Finding the hottest cocktails in Los Angeles can often be a boozy scavenger hunt. The expected and nontraditional settings can yield outstanding results residing in hotel lobbies, new restaurants, hidden speakeasies, and beloved lounges. The spots on this list include openings less than six months old, along with new additions to cocktail bars that always hit the mark for cocktailing in Southern California. Here are 15 hot cocktail spots to check out in LA, arranged from west to east. (See the essential cocktail map for more established venues.)Read More
The 14 Hottest Cocktail Spots in Los Angeles
Sip LA’s newest drinks at these restaurants, bars, and lounges
Though there’s Mediterranean fare at this 8,000-square-foot Woodland Hills space, the European-inspired cocktails are the showstopper at Casalena. Try the Spanish gin and tonic, Sicilian spritz, Parisian fizz, or something from the martini menu featuring the eye-catching caprese martini made with gin, tomato, basil, vermouth, and tomato celery bitters.
The Velvet Martini Lounge
Above Vitello’s restaurant is the Velvet Martini Lounge, an Old Hollywood, Rat Pack-inspired space. The Studio City bar has one goal: to transport visitors to another time and place with live music, drinks, and dishes that stick to the theme, including an old-fashioned TV dinner served on a metal tray. Cocktails are well-made, especially Sammy’s jazzerac which comes together with rye, amaretto, bitters, and an absinthe rinse.
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Jackson Kalb’s clubby new Hollywood restaurant just opened with a solid array of modern Italian American food and easy-sipping cocktails, like this Bellezza made with blanco tequila, Aperol, Bill’s honey, cucumber, and mint, which works as a sort of sweet-bitter starter to things like spicy vodka rigatoni and a shareable veal parmesan.
Echo Park hotspot Donna’s has a vibrant bar that fills up quickly with drinkers sipping on classic and signature cocktails, Negronis, and martinis. There’s also a nonalcoholic ghia spritz for those looking for a booze-free option.
This 100-year-old dive bar has been given new life under the reigns of Vinh Nguyen, whose Asian-inflected menu of scallion noodles, chicken liver pate, and Hunan barbecue pork ribs are terrific bites to have with the inventive drinks. Try the Oingo Boingo at the Ritz, a refreshing sipper with tomato sweet and sour, Thai basil syrup, and Coke.
Historic Filipinotown’s new bar is what’s needed in every LA neighborhood. No fuss, $4 beers, outdoor seating, and $13 cocktails in a relaxed setting designed to foster conversation.
Cold Shoulder Bar
If stationed inside Fairfax’s Blue Collar Bar, look for the hostess who (with a password) will open the hidden bookcase entry to Cold Shoulder. Once seated, order a Bananas Foster cocktail presented on an antique serving tray while observing the rugs and stools hanging from the ceiling, and psychedelic interpretive paintings of US presidents. It’s quite a vibe.
Dante Beverly Hills
Cocktail destination Dante has an extensive drink list featuring eight different Negronis, and nine martini recipes, with a range of classic and signature cocktails. The other bonus at this bar-restaurant is rooftop views for lunch or dinner.
The vibes at the reincarnated Baroo in the Arts District are so different from the original East Hollywood that fans will have to reorient, but the results are so suave and lovely from the get-go that most people will be delighted. Chef Kwang’s menu is now served as five courses inspired by life phases at $110 a person, with optional wine or non-alcoholic pairing. The Korean-inspired cocktails by Jason Lee, such as the Omija, mixing maesil soju with five berry tea cordial and txakolina, work as surprising interludes.
Bar CDMX offers a taste of Mexico’s bar scene, complete with arcade games and rock en Español. Agave-based spirits and rum are the focus with four options on draft: margaritas, mojitos, and mezcal palomas, while the tropic thunder is made with rum, orgeat, pineapple, lemon, and ginger.
Opt for the mezcal and rum punch, caipirinha, and an old fashioned made with a spirit of choice.
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Sinners y Santos
LA’s nightlife veterans the Houston Brothers opened Sinners y Santos in September, bringing a bold Gothic cathedral-looking nightclub lounge decked out in stained glass, table service, and live lucha libre wrestling matches on a stage suspended above the bar. Expect guest DJs spinning behind a church organ booth and a cocktail menu by barman Devon Espinosa.
At Level 8 in Downtown, Mr Wanderlust beverage director Devon Espinosa draws from bars and cocktail histories around the world. It’s an inventive approach that includes collaborations with exceptional mixologists. There’s also a rotating bar and various live performances in this library-like space.
Santa Monica’s pintxos bar and restaurant serves mostly wine and vermouth, but the cocktails are worth scoping out as well. There’s the classic Calimoxto made with red wine, Coca-Cola, and cherry. Sandra’s cocktail, made with ginger, passion fruit, soju, and vermouth, is a sweet start to happy hour.
This very dark but energetic restaurant in Venice features two bars, one for the semi-outdoor dining area that feels very much like a hip South American or Central American destination (think Cartagena or the chef’s hometown of Panama City) while the inside also features a handy bar for refreshing drinks like a lime leaf paloma mixing guava, mezcal, and grapefruit. Try the surf clam ceviche and the fried chicken wings to pair with the cocktails.
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