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Where to Drink in Los Angeles, Spring 2014

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2008_10_hasmaps.jpgThe cocktail scene in Los Angeles has never been better. The proliferation of well-made drinks has made diners and imbibers not only want the best, but expect the best, from men and women behind the bar. The trademark style of L.A.'s cocktail might be the use of fresh produce available in farmers markets, but also the strength of the city's committed cocktailians and mixologists that make drinking so enjoyable this time of year. Couple that with a wealth of great looking rooms, lounges, bars and restaurants, and one has a terrific selection of places to drink around town. With a major revamp, presenting Eater's Drink Heatmap for Spring 2014.


4/30/13: Added: littlefork, The Corner Door, Freddy Smalls, FEED Body + Soul, Cliff's Edge, Goldie's, Bestia, Corazon y Miel, Paiche, Son of a Gun, Crossroads, RivaBella, Drago Centro, Bludso's Bar & Que

10/28/13: Added: Warwick, Honeycut, Shutters, The Church Key, Pitfire Pizza Fairfax

12/27/13: Added: Scopa, Petty Cash Taqueria, Wolf & Crane, Acabar

4/9/14: Added: The Wallace, Gracias Madre, Bar Jackalope, The Tasting Kitchen, Faith & Flower, Melrose Umbrella Co., POT Bar, Bourbon Steak, Bigfoot Lodge

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Scopa Italian Roots

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Bar pros Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix make what might be the hottest place to get a drink in Venice, with Italian twists put on a modern cocktail menu that won't break the bank either, as most drinks hover $9-12. Try the house negroni.

The Corner Door

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Bartender Beau Du Bois really meshes the best of classic cocktail making with the new cadre of great spirits available on the market. A master of blending liqueurs, try the Mezcallin for a smokey, gingery drink or a seasonal pick like the Rapier and Dagger made with scotch, cognac, benedictine, amaro and creme de peche. The ambiance tends to be more relaxed, making for a more pleasant cocktail experience.

Honeycut

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Honeycut, the new downtown bar and (light up) dancing facility from 213's Cedd Moses, has a proper bar program by David Kaplan, Alex Day and Devon Tarby of Proprietors, LLC. A whopping 50 drinks are on offer in the bar room, meanwhile the dance/disco room serves bottled cocktails and cocktails on draft.

The Spare Room

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Blending a mix of tried & true cocktails and some seasonal ones, the Spare Room is still one of the best places to grab a drink. Think choices like Love Ain't for Keeping, with Plymouth dry and sloe gin, lillet blanc and peach bitters for something refreshing, or perhaps a super gingery Moscow Mule or one of the house-made barrel aged cocktails to go along with some fancy late-night bowling.

The cocktail menu put together by Julian Cox keeps it simple on the front and complex at the end, with drinks like Aromatic exuding persimmon-infused rye, dry vermouth, amer-Bestia (instead of Picon), and maraschino.

The Church Key

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The Church Key has a plethora of fun ways to imbibe, thanks to bartender Devon Espinosa. There's Negronis in a can and adult iced push pops in flavors like lemon drop and apple martini, which are served from old Delta airlines service carts. Off the regular bar menu go for the Pink Lips with Grey Goose La Poire, lime, Pama Espuma, and Champagne.

Warwick

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Warwick is a rustic Hollywood nightclub with craft cocktails by Jason Bran and Damian Windsor of the Roger Room. Think quality beverages from one of the venue's bars or even tableside drinks made by a "cocktail attendant." Instead of the usual cranberry, tonic, and orange juice, those who order a bottle receive fresh juice, housemade syrup or bitters, seasonal garnishes, housemade "foams," and fancy ice.

Petty Cash Taqueria

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Julian Cox makes a small, accessible cocktail list for this uber-popular Mexican taco spot by Walter Manzke. The paloma might be the strongest version ever done, with the most amount of salt and tang possibly mixed into a drink. The draft cocktails are a relative bargain too.

Julian Cox and Josh Goldman do classic drinks right with a thoroughly reimagined approach to making everything from tiki drinks to old-school favorites like the sherry cobbler. The arresting room, completely redone in the former Dar Maghreb space doesn't hurt either.

The Wallace

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This Culver City newcomer has all the hallmarks of a great farm-to-table restaurant, and the cocktails are right up there with the food. Consider the Fun Flask, made with coffee-infused scotch, cognac, and chocolate chili bitters. Or for something with more freshness, try the Dream Catcher, made with vodka, ginger, yellow Chartreuse, and lime juice.

Gracias Madre

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With a stellar mezcal and tequila program, this expansive vegan Mexican eatery in West Hollywood shouldn't need a great cocktail menu. But it does, and the boozy horchata made with almond milk and mezcal, or the more refined La Ciudad, composed of tequila, dry vermouth, amaro, and orange bitters for a stirred drink that stands up to tortas.

Bar Jackalope at Seven Grand

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This Japanese whisky bar cut out of the expansive Seven Grand space in Downtown is a different kind of vibe from Cedd Moses. Intimate, settled, and focused on a superior brown liquor experience, imbibers can even buy a bottle to finish on another occasion. Or right away.

The Tasting Kitchen

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Though the bar program remains as solid as ever under the direction of barman Justin Pike, it's time to reconsider The Tasting Kitchen as perhaps the best place to grab a drink on Abbot Kinney. Consider the barrel-aged cocktails, like the Negroni.

Faith & Flower

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This grand Downtown restaurant has a stellar bar program helmed by Michael Lay, who put together the menu in Monterrey's 1833. Using seven different kinds of ice and boasting a Russian-style absinthe service, standout drinks include the English Milk Punch and the Adonis, made with sherry, angelica tincture, royal combier, china-amer and orange bitters. (yes, believe it)

Melrose Umbrella Co

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With cocktails by Zach Patterson and a helping hand from Julian Cox, this stunning lounge in the heart of Melrose feature antique design elements from Matt Winter. Using housemade syrups, tonics, and tinctures, the program is just as artisanal as the look itself.

Crossroads Los Angeles

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Cocktails in a vegan restaurant? Yes, believe it, thanks to Jeremy Lake, who puts together fresh ingredients that are no only conducive to the inventive plant-based fare, but also borderline healthy themselves. Consider the tea-infused gin, or Beast of Burden, made with tequila and coconut water.

POT Bar

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Matthew Biancaniello takes the Korean-inspired drinks at POT to another level, thanks to ingredients like uni, natto, and mushrooms, but the intoxicants simply burst with flavor at this whimsical bar in The Line Hotel's bustling lobby.

Bourbon Steak

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The drinks are definitely a step up the typical steakhouse at this Glendale meat emporium thanks to the Japanese whiskey cart, which brings a classic Tokyo whiskey bar to the Americana at Brand.

Bigfoot Lodge

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Aidan Demarest and Marcos Tello take the drinks at this Atwater Village classic to another level, to coincide with the overall makeover of the interior. Featuring small-batch whiskies, the menu riffs off campfire classics to offer drinks like the Cookie Duster, made with whiskey, chocolate liquer, and cream, or the Donkey Punch, made with El Silencio mezcal, vanilla liqueur, and mint.

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Scopa Italian Roots

Bar pros Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix make what might be the hottest place to get a drink in Venice, with Italian twists put on a modern cocktail menu that won't break the bank either, as most drinks hover $9-12. Try the house negroni.

The Corner Door

Bartender Beau Du Bois really meshes the best of classic cocktail making with the new cadre of great spirits available on the market. A master of blending liqueurs, try the Mezcallin for a smokey, gingery drink or a seasonal pick like the Rapier and Dagger made with scotch, cognac, benedictine, amaro and creme de peche. The ambiance tends to be more relaxed, making for a more pleasant cocktail experience.

Honeycut

Honeycut, the new downtown bar and (light up) dancing facility from 213's Cedd Moses, has a proper bar program by David Kaplan, Alex Day and Devon Tarby of Proprietors, LLC. A whopping 50 drinks are on offer in the bar room, meanwhile the dance/disco room serves bottled cocktails and cocktails on draft.

The Spare Room

Blending a mix of tried & true cocktails and some seasonal ones, the Spare Room is still one of the best places to grab a drink. Think choices like Love Ain't for Keeping, with Plymouth dry and sloe gin, lillet blanc and peach bitters for something refreshing, or perhaps a super gingery Moscow Mule or one of the house-made barrel aged cocktails to go along with some fancy late-night bowling.

Bestia

The cocktail menu put together by Julian Cox keeps it simple on the front and complex at the end, with drinks like Aromatic exuding persimmon-infused rye, dry vermouth, amer-Bestia (instead of Picon), and maraschino.

The Church Key

The Church Key has a plethora of fun ways to imbibe, thanks to bartender Devon Espinosa. There's Negronis in a can and adult iced push pops in flavors like lemon drop and apple martini, which are served from old Delta airlines service carts. Off the regular bar menu go for the Pink Lips with Grey Goose La Poire, lime, Pama Espuma, and Champagne.

Warwick

Warwick is a rustic Hollywood nightclub with craft cocktails by Jason Bran and Damian Windsor of the Roger Room. Think quality beverages from one of the venue's bars or even tableside drinks made by a "cocktail attendant." Instead of the usual cranberry, tonic, and orange juice, those who order a bottle receive fresh juice, housemade syrup or bitters, seasonal garnishes, housemade "foams," and fancy ice.

Petty Cash Taqueria

Julian Cox makes a small, accessible cocktail list for this uber-popular Mexican taco spot by Walter Manzke. The paloma might be the strongest version ever done, with the most amount of salt and tang possibly mixed into a drink. The draft cocktails are a relative bargain too.

Acabar

Julian Cox and Josh Goldman do classic drinks right with a thoroughly reimagined approach to making everything from tiki drinks to old-school favorites like the sherry cobbler. The arresting room, completely redone in the former Dar Maghreb space doesn't hurt either.

The Wallace

This Culver City newcomer has all the hallmarks of a great farm-to-table restaurant, and the cocktails are right up there with the food. Consider the Fun Flask, made with coffee-infused scotch, cognac, and chocolate chili bitters. Or for something with more freshness, try the Dream Catcher, made with vodka, ginger, yellow Chartreuse, and lime juice.

Gracias Madre

With a stellar mezcal and tequila program, this expansive vegan Mexican eatery in West Hollywood shouldn't need a great cocktail menu. But it does, and the boozy horchata made with almond milk and mezcal, or the more refined La Ciudad, composed of tequila, dry vermouth, amaro, and orange bitters for a stirred drink that stands up to tortas.

Bar Jackalope at Seven Grand

This Japanese whisky bar cut out of the expansive Seven Grand space in Downtown is a different kind of vibe from Cedd Moses. Intimate, settled, and focused on a superior brown liquor experience, imbibers can even buy a bottle to finish on another occasion. Or right away.

The Tasting Kitchen