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Where to Drink in Los Angeles, Winter 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 the wondrous fresh produce available in farmers markets, but it's 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. Just in time for New Year's celebrations and beyond, presenting Eater's Drink Heatmap for Winter 2013 going into 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

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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LittleFork

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Bartender Dino Balocchi comes by way of Chicago's highly lauded Longman & Eagle, with cocktails touting the likes of the Windy City's own Leatherbee's gin and the rarely seen Malort, a sort of Swedish take on absinthe.

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.

Freddy Smalls

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New bartender Johan Stein has transformed the menu into something compelling, with great stirred cocktails like the Paddy's Girl, using Irish whiskey, maraschino, white vermouth, and lime; or shaken drinks like the Sao Paulo Sour, using cachaca, velvet falernum, egg whites and kaffir lime. The tight quarters and loud music makes for a fun night on any night of the week.

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.

Newly re-opened after a month-long renovation, 1886 is Pasadena's enduring outpost of great cocktails. The new drink menu is featuring a number of soda pop cocktails to go along with the normal lineup of classically inspired intoxicants.

Goldie's

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Former ink bartender Brittani Rae Peterson is doing an inventive cocktail program using ingredients like house-made Amaretto. The Mr. Rogers cocktail is as comforting as the blue-cardigan toting public television personality, using bourbon, maple, brown butter meringue and a topping of a hibiscus leaf.

The cocktail menu put together by Julian Cox and Josh Goldman 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.

Corazan Y Miel

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Lauded by critic and known cocktailian Jonathan Gold, Corazon Y Miel has moderately priced drinks that use the likes of tamarind candy, housemade horchata and bitters. The Mientros Me Casa margarita uses Avion anejo with Grand Marnier and Chambord for a fancy take on the Mexican classic.

Paichẽ

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Bartender Deysi Alvarez, who also put together Mo-Chica's cocktail menu, is looking to combine both Peruvian and Japanese flavors into the drink list at Paiche. The Last Ice Age combines Japanese Hakushi whiskey with Asian-pear-infused pisco into sour-like libation that's incredibly addictive.

Son of a Gun Restaurant

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The small bar toward the back of this celebrated seafood restaurant by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo has some classics like pisco sours and Aviations to go along with seasonal selections.

Drago Centro

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Jason Eisner has taken over the bar program at this grand Downtown eatery, putting an Italian twist on the fun drinks, featuring Perla del Mar, which uses mezcal, St. Germain, lime and watermelon. Also, the Back to School, which mixes rye, pumpkin butter, port, lemon and bitters. The happy hour is still the time to best enjoy drinks, perhaps after work or before hitting a show or ball game.

Bludso's Bar & Que

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The drink program at this La Brea barbecue joint here has some innovative features, like the julep on tap, Fernet Branca on tap, and some twists on classic barbecue-friendly cocktails, like the Texas margarita served with a splash of PBR.

Pitfire Pizza

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Pitfire Pizza on Fairfax is the local chainlet's first outpost to offer a full bar, crafted by Pie Society (within Pitfire in Costa Mesa) barman Steve Garcia. Try seasonal libations like Rumpkin Pie (rum, carrot simple syrup, lemon, soda) and the Cold Toddy (bourbon, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, lemon, honey).

Shutters On The Beach

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Coast, One Pico, and the Living Room lobby lounge within Shutters hotel in Santa Monica have a new winter/holiday list of intoxicants by bartendress Tricia Alley, previously responsible for drinks at Black Market in Studio City. Swing by for Spiked Aperol Spritz and the KCRW (cachaca, Green Chartreuse, and club soda).

The Church Key

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New West Hollywood addition 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 new 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wolf & Crane

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This Little Tokyo drinking den keeps it simple with a neighborhood bar-like approach, but with a little bit of a Japanese whiskey bar twist. The drink menu is relatively simple, with highballs like gin, bitters, and tonic and a tight menu of local craft beers.

LittleFork

Bartender Dino Balocchi comes by way of Chicago's highly lauded Longman & Eagle, with cocktails touting the likes of the Windy City's own Leatherbee's gin and the rarely seen Malort, a sort of Swedish take on absinthe.

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.

Freddy Smalls

New bartender Johan Stein has transformed the menu into something compelling, with great stirred cocktails like the Paddy's Girl, using Irish whiskey, maraschino, white vermouth, and lime; or shaken drinks like the Sao Paulo Sour, using cachaca, velvet falernum, egg whites and kaffir lime. The tight quarters and loud music makes for a fun night on any night of the week.

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.

1886

Newly re-opened after a month-long renovation, 1886 is Pasadena's enduring outpost of great cocktails. The new drink menu is featuring a number of soda pop cocktails to go along with the normal lineup of classically inspired intoxicants.

Goldie's

Former ink bartender Brittani Rae Peterson is doing an inventive cocktail program using ingredients like house-made Amaretto. The Mr. Rogers cocktail is as comforting as the blue-cardigan toting public television personality, using bourbon, maple, brown butter meringue and a topping of a hibiscus leaf.

Bestia

The cocktail menu put together by Julian Cox and Josh Goldman 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.

Corazan Y Miel

Lauded by critic and known cocktailian Jonathan Gold, Corazon Y Miel has moderately priced drinks that use the likes of tamarind candy, housemade horchata and bitters. The Mientros Me Casa margarita uses Avion anejo with Grand Marnier and Chambord for a fancy take on the Mexican classic.

Paichẽ

Bartender Deysi Alvarez, who also put together Mo-Chica's cocktail menu, is looking to combine both Peruvian and Japanese flavors into the drink list at Paiche. The Last Ice Age combines Japanese Hakushi whiskey with Asian-pear-infused pisco into sour-like libation that's incredibly addictive.

Son of a Gun Restaurant

The small bar toward the back of this celebrated seafood restaurant by Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo has some classics like pisco sours and Aviations to go along with seasonal selections.

Drago Centro

Jason Eisner has taken over the bar program at this grand Downtown eatery, putting an Italian twist on the fun drinks, featuring Perla del Mar, which uses mezcal, St. Germain, lime and watermelon. Also, the Back to School, which mixes rye, pumpkin butter, port, lemon and bitters. The happy hour is still the time to best enjoy drinks, perhaps after work or before hitting a show or ball game.

Bludso's Bar & Que