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Best Martini in LA - Liquid Kitty

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For the fifth year in a row, Liquid Kitty on Pico has won Citysearch's title of Best Martini in LA.

Liquid Kitty harkens back to LA's dark, Chandleresque side, with dim lights and strong drinks. It reminds me of both the rat pack martini bar Olive, and a little bit of Yee Mee Loo's, an historic Chinatown bar. The Hollywood speakeasy feel is enhanced by the lack of any kind of sign out front with their name on it. Just keep an eye out for the blinking neon martini glass and cigarette.

Every drink at Liquid Kitty is a double. So arrange your sober driver beforehand, because these drinks can really sneak up on you. Especially the dazzling array of sweet, brightly colored cocktails. They may be served in martini glasses, but they are still cocktails - proprietor Dave Childs is a martini purist, "A martini is either vodka or gin with a tiny amount of vermouth." Period. That doesn't mean you have to lose your sense of humor though. "The Liquid Kitty" is a Ketel-One martini with a Camel cigarette (no filter) on the side.

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In the early 90's, LA was still struggling with the remnants of cheesy yuppie bars, and all of the old tiki bars were closing down. Feeling like there were no cool bars on the Westside, musician Dave Childs and his old high school friend Cedd Moses started looking for a space where they could open a bar to fill the void. They found out the former punk Club 88 was for lease, and went to check it out. They noticed a bar next door with a 'for rent' sign. They called the owner and ended up buying the place.

Dave and Cedd teamed up with Ricki Kline to design the cool interior. The theme was drinking and smoking, low light and cool music. There once was a time when they also could have won "Smokiest bar in LA". Over time, Cedd shifted his focus downtown to open Golden Gopher, Broadway Bar and Seven Grand. Now Dave is the owner, mixologist, sometimes DJ, raconteur and he might occasionally do an impersonation of the old Zachary All commercials if you ask really, really nicely (Portly long, portly short...cadet. Come on down and see us).

Your proprieter, Dave Childs, and his wife Lynn

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Even the bouncers are friendly.

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They are all about the music at Liquid Kitty. Monday night is karaoke, and DJs spin during the week. But sometimes they mix it up with a little Guitar Hero or I-Pod nights where you can DJ for 20 minutes from your I-Pod. If they like your stuff, you get a free drink. Every Sunday features live music, primarily old-school funk and blues, with the likes of Carlos Guitarlos and Jake Labotz. Live music is not limited to Sundays, and every once in awhile the Blasters make a super-secret appearance. Stay up to date with their calendar, and sign up for their Yahoo group here. Or become their friend. Every summer, Liquid Kitty throws a Punk Rock BBQ. Check out Heath's post from last summer's BBQ.

This is a photo of Saccharine Trust rocking out the Punk Rock BBQ the year before:

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The clientele is extremely classy and refined. Especially when those deceptively pretty drinks are flowing.

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Sometimes finding a favorite place can be as simple as liking the wallpaper in the ladies room

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In spite of their traditional martini philosophy, they certainly don't slouch in the cocktail department. I usually end up drinking about half the colors of the rainbow in one night. Seen above is the Harold and Maude, Rum, banana liqueur, sweet-and-sour and pineapple. Besides the Liquid Kitty and the Harold and Maude, they have started making a very dangerous, yet refreshing mojito. They make old-fashioned tiki drinks, a manhattan called the Travis Bickle and stock single malts like 12-year-old Macallan and 10-year-old Glenmorangie. But perhaps their most popular drink is the Lowlife: a well shot with a Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Parking used to be kind of a pain, but they have valets now and it's well worth it. Now there's nothing not to like about Liquid Kitty. In fact, a guy opening a bar in Chicago liked the name so much he took the name, even though they aren't affiliated. The name Liquid Kitty comes from an old inside joke about a drunk guy trying to discuss finances who couldn't pronounce "liquidity."

Although not everyone buys that story. One night I had dinner at my mom's, then planned on stopping by Liquid Kitty on the way home. My brother told me that after I left my 72 year-old mom told him smugly, 'Elise thinks I don't know what that that means."

Liquid Kitty 11780 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles 90064 (between Bundy and Barrington) MAP
Open 7 nights a week, Mon-Fri 6pm to 2am, Sat-Sun 8pm-2am. 310-473-3707.
No cover any night, 21 & over (and they have a bartender who knows ASL)

Photos taken by Elise Thompson for LAist