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Colorful cocktail from Bar Flores in Echo Park.
Colorful cocktail from Bar Flores in Echo Park
Wonho Frank Lee

17 Essential Cocktail Bars in Los Angeles, 2021 Edition

The best places for cocktails in LA, period

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Colorful cocktail from Bar Flores in Echo Park
| Wonho Frank Lee

Unlike a lot of cocktail towns, Los Angeles is not beholden to any traditions. From the early days of Hollywood to the more recent craft cocktail renaissance, LA has become the place for daring drinking thanks to this freedom and out-of-the-box thinking. Here now are the 17 essential cocktail bars in Los Angeles.

Removed: Bar Centro, Lono, Rudolph’s Bar & Tea, the Giannini Bar at NoMad LA, Redbird, In Sheep’s Clothing, Bar Clacson, the Streamliner, Daily Pint, Old Lightning, Ever Bar

Added: Thunderbolt, Death & Co., Bar Flores, Broken Shaker LA, the Dresden, the Abbey, the Mermaid

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tonga Hut

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12808 Victory Blvd
North Hollywood, CA
(818) 769-0708
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Tonga Hut, LA’s oldest tiki bar, has been around since Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber were still fighting over who made the first mai tai. Fifty-eight years later, the drinks are still sweet and potent. Drinkers who want to get their name on the wall need to drink 78 cocktails off the bar’s Grog Log within a year.

2. The Abbey

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692 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 289-8410
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Back in the ‘90s, this WeHo bar gained popularity as a cool coffeehouse. Today it’s an iconic and beloved gay bar where Lady Gaga shows up to kick off the city’s new “Born This Way” Day and the bar’s 30th anniversary. Here, you come for the patio scene, stay for the dancing, and have some Appletinis, mango mojitos, and watermelon margaritas along the way.

3. The Roger Room

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370 N LA Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 854-1300
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When on La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood and one desires a drink without any of the fussiness of dress codes and velvet ropes, come here. A dark circus-themed bar with craft cocktails that go down way too easy, it's the ideal venue for hanging out with the crew or solo drinking.

4. The Spare Room

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7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 769-7296
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For the summer, the Hollywood Roosevelt gaming parlor and cocktail lounge has moved poolside and is going by “Spare Room...Somewhere Else.” Now you can drink tropical drinks, such as the coconutty Cabana Club, beneath Marilyn Monroe’s suite and play bocce ball beside the David Hockney painted pool. The whimsical drinks have complex yet approachable flavor profiles.

5. Harvard & Stone

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5221 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 466-6063
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Don’t be fooled by the raucous scene of live bands and burlesque dancing up front. Tucked in the way back of this Houston Brothers’s Thai Town bar is a research and development space that regularly features guest bartenders, as well as creative (and sometimes way out there) one-off cocktails. Follow the bar’s Instagram to see what’s in store for the evening.

6. The Normandie Club

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605 S Normandie Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 817-5321
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This Koreatown bar by Pouring With Heart is a favorite bartenders’ hang. The cocktail menu not only offers new favorite versions of classic cocktails but a handpicked spirits list and drinks using whatever ingredient the bar staff is currently obsessed with.

The Normandie Club
The Normandie Club
Wonho Frank Lee

7. The Dresden Restaurant & Lounge

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1760 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 665-4294
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The main draw of this Los Feliz bar is longtime bar lounge act, Marty & Elayne, who have been performing at the 67-year-old Dresden for what would have been 40 years this past April. Even though live music hasn’t returned yet, the beautiful old-school lounge can still be enjoyed. The cocktail menu, updated a couple of years ago from ‘70s saccharine to craft cocktail standards, features seasonal drinks, as well as the classics, such as the Vespers and the Dresden’s Blood & Sand that have been on the menu for over 65 years.

8. Big Bar

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1927 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 644-0100

Big Bar has long been a favorite hang for local bartenders, thanks to guest bartenders and cocktail community events. For fun, tasty, and well-crafted cocktails, this is the spot. One of the more popular cocktails, the O.B.B., a Bolivian brandy champagne cocktail, comes with a dude-in-speedo cocktail garnish.

9. Tiki Ti

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4427 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 669-9381
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Any tiki fan owes it to themselves to drop by this Los Feliz bar. After all, its founder Ray Buhen was one of the original Filipino bartenders who worked for tiki legend Don the Beachcomber, keeping all his cocktail ingredient secrets. The bar is now run by Buhen’s son and grandsons who carry on Tiki Ti’s cocktails, as well as some traditions — just order a Blood and Sand or a Ray’s Mistake to find out.

10. Genever

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3123 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(213) 908-5693
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Owned by three Filipino women who raised money via a Kickstarter campaign to build it, Genever is a gin joint where women can feel comfortable grabbing a drink. Order up cocktails with Filipino-forward ingredients such as calamansi cordial and toasted coconut vermouth. Genever reopens July 17.

Genever
Genever
Wonho Frank Lee

11. Bar Flores

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1542 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 266-8006
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Sitting upstairs from the constant party that is Lowboy cocktail bar, Bar Flores boasts views of the Echo Park neighborhood and Sunset Boulevard. It’s a great spot to take in the scenery while enjoying day-friendly cocktails such as the cognac cocktail with tepache, curry, and tumeric. The bar concept started as a pop-up series by beverage director Karla Flores-Mercado and now features a mostly women bar team.

Bartenders behind the bar at Bar Flores in Echo Park with colorful bottles on the wall.
Bar Flores
Wonho Frank Lee

12. Broken Shaker at Freehand Los Angeles

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416 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 612-0021
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The downtown LA Freehand Hotel bar is sister to the James Beard-nominated Broken Shaker Miami. This rooftop party offers everything Angelenos want to show off to out-of-towners: gorgeous sunset views, swimming pool action, and fun craft cocktails.

13. Thunderbolt

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1263 W Temple St
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 372-5099
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This Historic Filipinotown/Echo Park cocktail bar didn’t just serve to-go cocktails during the pandemic, bartender and co-owner Mike Capoferri created innovative canned/bottled/bagged options, such as a HiFi-inspired Old Fashioned with coconut-washed rye packaged alongside a block of pristine ice. And now that the bar is open both indoors and out, cocktail lovers can hang out on the leather couches or pick up the “Highball of the Month” or espresso martini to take home and enjoy later.

14. The Varnish

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118 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 622-9999
Visit Website

For a bar hidden in the back of Cole’s and not even marked with a sign, the Varnish is well known. The collaboration of the late legendary barman Sasha Petraske, Eric Alperin, and Cedd Moses won Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award for Best American Bar, as well the title of one of the 50 best bars in the world. Duck in here for a classic cocktail and find out why.

15. The Mermaid

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428 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 947-3347
Visit Website

This low-key nautical-themed bar located in a Little Tokyo strip mall wants to be everyone’s neighborhood spot, promising a good time with live music, Tiki Thursday, and Boozy Bingo night. And the drinks are affordable and approachable. Close out a night of high-end drinking Downtown with a tropical punch like Drink Like a Fish with rum and Earl Grey tea.

16. Death & Co.

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810 E 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

The arrival of Death & Co’s downtown LA outpost felt like a long time coming. After all, the team behind the bar had already established themselves in LA with Honeycut and Walker Inn. Now this drinking den is where you want to go to meet friends, a date, or solo, and appreciate a finely made cocktail with quality spirits and fresh ingredients. The bar also offers cocktails to-go, making it easy to take home new favorites.

17. 1886 Bar at The Raymond

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1250 S Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA
(626) 441-3136
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1886 may be far off the beaten Lyft path, but it’s been luring cocktail enthusiasts to Pasadena with its creative and well-crafted cocktails since 2010. Enjoy a cocktail or a whiskey straight fireside on the patio or in the quaint and cozy bar, which was part of the historic Raymond Hotel.

1886 Bar cocktail
1886 Bar at The Raymond
acuna-hansen

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1. Tonga Hut

12808 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA

Tonga Hut, LA’s oldest tiki bar, has been around since Trader Vic and Don the Beachcomber were still fighting over who made the first mai tai. Fifty-eight years later, the drinks are still sweet and potent. Drinkers who want to get their name on the wall need to drink 78 cocktails off the bar’s Grog Log within a year.

12808 Victory Blvd
North Hollywood, CA

2. The Abbey

692 N Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Back in the ‘90s, this WeHo bar gained popularity as a cool coffeehouse. Today it’s an iconic and beloved gay bar where Lady Gaga shows up to kick off the city’s new “Born This Way” Day and the bar’s 30th anniversary. Here, you come for the patio scene, stay for the dancing, and have some Appletinis, mango mojitos, and watermelon margaritas along the way.

692 N Robertson Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

3. The Roger Room

370 N LA Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

When on La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood and one desires a drink without any of the fussiness of dress codes and velvet ropes, come here. A dark circus-themed bar with craft cocktails that go down way too easy, it's the ideal venue for hanging out with the crew or solo drinking.

370 N LA Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

4. The Spare Room

7000 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

For the summer, the Hollywood Roosevelt gaming parlor and cocktail lounge has moved poolside and is going by “Spare Room...Somewhere Else.” Now you can drink tropical drinks, such as the coconutty Cabana Club, beneath Marilyn Monroe’s suite and play bocce ball beside the David Hockney painted pool. The whimsical drinks have complex yet approachable flavor profiles.

7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

5. Harvard & Stone

5221 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Don’t be fooled by the raucous scene of live bands and burlesque dancing up front. Tucked in the way back of this Houston Brothers’s Thai Town bar is a research and development space that regularly features guest bartenders, as well as creative (and sometimes way out there) one-off cocktails. Follow the bar’s Instagram to see what’s in store for the evening.

5221 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

6. The Normandie Club

605 S Normandie Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005, Los Angeles, CA
The Normandie Club
The Normandie Club
Wonho Frank Lee

This Koreatown bar by Pouring With Heart is a favorite bartenders’ hang. The cocktail menu not only offers new favorite versions of classic cocktails but a handpicked spirits list and drinks using whatever ingredient the bar staff is currently obsessed with.

605 S Normandie Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Los Angeles, CA

7. The Dresden Restaurant & Lounge

1760 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The main draw of this Los Feliz bar is longtime bar lounge act, Marty & Elayne, who have been performing at the 67-year-old Dresden for what would have been 40 years this past April. Even though live music hasn’t returned yet, the beautiful old-school lounge can still be enjoyed. The cocktail menu, updated a couple of years ago from ‘70s saccharine to craft cocktail standards, features seasonal drinks, as well as the classics, such as the Vespers and the Dresden’s Blood & Sand that have been on the menu for over 65 years.

1760 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027

8. Big Bar

1927 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Big Bar has long been a favorite hang for local bartenders, thanks to guest bartenders and cocktail community events. For fun, tasty, and well-crafted cocktails, this is the spot. One of the more popular cocktails, the O.B.B., a Bolivian brandy champagne cocktail, comes with a dude-in-speedo cocktail garnish.

1927 Hillhurst Ave
Los Angeles, CA

9. Tiki Ti

4427 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

Any tiki fan owes it to themselves to drop by this Los Feliz bar. After all, its founder Ray Buhen was one of the original Filipino bartenders who worked for tiki legend Don the Beachcomber, keeping all his cocktail ingredient secrets. The bar is now run by Buhen’s son and grandsons who carry on Tiki Ti’s cocktails, as well as some traditions — just order a Blood and Sand or a Ray’s Mistake to find out.

4427 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

10. Genever

3123 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057
Genever
Genever
Wonho Frank Lee

Owned by three Filipino women who raised money via a Kickstarter campaign to build it, Genever is a gin joint where women can feel comfortable grabbing a drink. Order up cocktails with Filipino-forward ingredients such as calamansi cordial and toasted coconut vermouth. Genever reopens July 17.

3123 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057

11. Bar Flores

1542 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Bartenders behind the bar at Bar Flores in Echo Park with colorful bottles on the wall.
Bar Flores
Wonho Frank Lee

Sitting upstairs from the constant party that is Lowboy cocktail bar, Bar Flores boasts views of the Echo Park neighborhood and Sunset Boulevard. It’s a great spot to take in the scenery while enjoying day-friendly cocktails such as the cognac cocktail with tepache, curry, and tumeric. The bar concept started as a pop-up series by beverage director Karla Flores-Mercado and now features a mostly women bar team.

1542 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

12. Broken Shaker at Freehand Los Angeles

416 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

The downtown LA Freehand Hotel bar is sister to the James Beard-nominated Broken Shaker Miami. This rooftop party offers everything Angelenos want to show off to out-of-towners: gorgeous sunset views, swimming pool action, and fun craft cocktails.

416 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

13. Thunderbolt

1263 W Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90026

This Historic Filipinotown/Echo Park cocktail bar didn’t just serve to-go cocktails during the pandemic, bartender and co-owner Mike Capoferri created innovative canned/bottled/bagged options, such as a HiFi-inspired Old Fashioned with coconut-washed rye packaged alongside a block of pristine ice. And now that the bar is open both indoors and out, cocktail lovers can hang out on the leather couches or pick up the “Highball of the Month” or espresso martini to take home and enjoy later.

1263 W Temple St
Los Angeles, CA 90026

14. The Varnish

118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA

For a bar hidden in the back of Cole’s and not even marked with a sign, the Varnish is well known. The collaboration of the late legendary barman Sasha Petraske, Eric Alperin, and Cedd Moses won Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award for Best American Bar, as well the title of one of the 50 best bars in the world. Duck in here for a classic cocktail and find out why.

118 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA

15. The Mermaid

428 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

This low-key nautical-themed bar located in a Little Tokyo strip mall wants to be everyone’s neighborhood spot, promising a good time with live music, Tiki Thursday, and Boozy Bingo night. And the drinks are affordable and approachable. Close out a night of high-end drinking Downtown with a tropical punch like Drink Like a Fish with rum and Earl Grey tea.

428 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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16. Death & Co.

810 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

The arrival of Death & Co’s downtown LA outpost felt like a long time coming. After all, the team behind the bar had already established themselves in LA with Honeycut and Walker Inn. Now this drinking den is where you want to go to meet friends, a date, or solo, and appreciate a finely made cocktail with quality spirits and fresh ingredients. The bar also offers cocktails to-go, making it easy to take home new favorites.

810 E 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

17. 1886 Bar at The Raymond

1250 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA
1886 Bar cocktail
1886 Bar at The Raymond
acuna-hansen

1886 may be far off the beaten Lyft path, but it’s been luring cocktail enthusiasts to Pasadena with its creative and well-crafted cocktails since 2010. Enjoy a cocktail or a whiskey straight fireside on the patio or in the quaint and cozy bar, which was part of the historic Raymond Hotel.

1250 S Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena, CA

Related Maps