Los Angeles' Best New Bars In 2014
What makes a great bar? We'd say it's a hard-to-achieve combo of warming ambience, stellar cocktails, good music, and excellent service that draws in patrons with good vibes. Here are some of our favorites around Los Angeles that do just that. As always, leave your own new favorites in the comments.
Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist
Republique is one of our favorite bars to hit up any time of the week. The massive windows allow light to spill into the bar area, where the team is mixing up fantastic market-driven cocktails rooted in the classics. The bar is helmed by Erik Lund, who worked with Julian Cox over at Rivera and how oversees the program at the La Brea Avenue restaurant. One of the must tries, which has been on the menu since the opening, is the celerity cocktail—celery, serrano, pineapple, and fresh lime juices mixed with cane simple syrup and Chinaco tequila.
Republique is located at 624 South La Brea Avenue, 310.362.6115
The outside patio of the bar (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
Good Times At Davey Wayne's
What we love about stepping into Good Times at Davey Wayne's is that you feel like you're being transported to another era. The Houston Brothers, who've helmed other innovative and fun bars like No Vacancy and Harvard & Stone, have done it again with this impeccably well-decorated 1970s-themed watering hole. Outside of Good Times is what appears to be a home garage where a yard sale (with era-appropriate clothing and knick knacks) is taking place. You open the giant refrigerator door there (the child in us gets giddy at this point) and you walk inside what appears to be a house with a design that's akin to something you'd see in That 70s Show. It's the little touches that we love with this spot. Funky soul and classic rock blare in the background, and sometimes rollerskaters come out for performances. Beer is served in orange "#1 Dad" mugs, and you can still get your craft cocktails game on here like the Cisco Kid, a raspberry and jalapeno-infused tequila drink we're particularly are fond of. There are even boozy snow cones. And outside in the back patio (which feels like someone's grassy backyard), you can get some succulent pork belly sammies and kicked-up bacon-wrapped dirty dogs. —Jean Trinh
Good Times At Davey Wayne's is located at 1611 N El Centro Blvd. in Hollywood, (323) 962-3804
Photo of Honeycut's dance floor via Honeycut on Facebook
There are two separate "experiences" you can have at Downtown L.A.'s Honeycut: a night at the disco, or a more refined tipple at their craft cocktail bar. The bar was conceived by vets of the esteemed Death & Co. in New York, a bar that's a staple in the nation's cocktail scene, as well as Cedd Moses of the locally owned 213 Group (Las Perlas, the Varnish, Seven Grand, and more). Honeycut is up for Best American High Volume Cocktail Bar this coming year at Tales of a Cocktail, and it's easy to see why. There's nowhere else in L.A. where you can cut a rug on an LED dance floor while sipping on one of the 50 cocktails mixed up by bartenders trained by famed bartender Alex Day. For us, it's the ideal night out.
Honeycut is located at 819 S Flower St, Los Angeles, (213) 688-0888
Our outlook on the Westside bar scene got a little bit brighter with the opening of Brilliantshine, a whiskey-heavy cocktail lounge with elevated bar bites. The drinks are made by Soigné Group's Julian Cox and Josh Goldman, and are inspired by Cox's travels to Paris, Spain, Italy, Peru, Martinique and London, mixing them with both classic and modern interpretations. The Santa Monica bar also serves as the research and development center for the bartenders' other endeavors, so there's always a chance to be a cocktail guinea pig if you're so inclined.
Brilliantshine is located at 522 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 451-0045
(Photo of Butchers & Barbers Sons of the Desert mescal cocktail by Andy Klienen)
Butchers & Barbers
The theme at this Hollywood bar and restaurant by the Houston brothers is slightly more nebulous than their other bars like La Descarga or Harvard & Stone, which are known for transporting guests to different eras and locales through their decor, music, and cocktails. But it's certainly still home to the same keen eye for design and craft cocktail geekery that they're known for. While it definitely does have a slightly Sweeney Todd old timey feel, it seems like more of a nod to the current trends. Butchers? Check. Barbers? Check? A blow-your-mind burger that's served until closing time? Check check and check. They also serve great cocktails focussing on small batch liquors, like the Sons of the Desert cocktail made with fidencio joven mezcal, chareau aloe liqueur, lemon verbena, lime, simple syrup, and smoked sea salt. It's the ideal place to take a date, or grab a night cap after a night out in Hollywood.
Butchers & Barbers is located at 6531 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, (323) 461-1464
Party at Genesis (Photo by Chris Blaski for Rony's Photobooth)
This Hollywood bar looks like your eccentric grandparents' attic. Nestled on top of Hollywood's Sassafras, guests will ascend a staircase lined with candles and enter a fanciful space full of seemingly unrelated ephemera—old paintings, taxidermy, knick-knacks and mismatched furniture in odd places. There are plenty of nooks and crannies for cozying up to friends or lovers, but also a sizable dance floor for cutting loose. It's by no means your traditional Hollywood club and it's not a place for sipping craft cocktails, but it's prime for a girls' night out, an upbeat date or an uninhibited Friday night after a long week. —Juliet Bennett Rylah
We'll take the pillows, and reclaimed wood tables, and leather chairs, and, well, everything (Photo by Krista Simmons/LAist)
The Ace Hotel
Wether you're lounging around in Palm Springs by the pool or indulging in the sweeping DTLA views, The Ace is always the place to be. The hotel opened back in January to much fanfare, in part due to the incredible design by Commune—the folks behind Farmshop, Heath Ceramics, and Oliver Peoples. We have major aesthetics envy every time we sit at their rooftop bar, which is adorned with Navajo-print pillows, Hollyhock-house inspired tile work, leather lounge chairs, cow hide rugs, Pendleton blankets, and vintage seltzer bottles. The cocktails are great too.
The Ace Hotel is located at 929 S Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 623-3233
Photo courtesy of Faith & Flower
Faith & Flower
There are a lot of things we love at the new Faith & Flower in Downtown L.A.: the smart art deco meets modern design; the flaming table-side absinthe show; the prayerbook menus with hidden messages from rappers and poets; the fact that "Ratatouille's" menu consultant Michael Hung is the chef; and the reality that the chef's comforting oxtail agnolotti doesn't need any assistance from rodents of any sort. But what we're really into is the bar program at this stunning new restaurant, which has a classy old-fashioned feel to it. They serve excellent cocktails with the utmost care, including their now-famous Milk Punch that takes a whopping three days to make.
Faith & Flower is located at 705 W 9th St, Los Angeles, (213) 239-0642
The chic and cozy bar scene (ahem 1886 at The Raymond) presence is growing in Pasadena—and the recently revamped Magnolia House is no exception. The bar is a renovated craftsman house built in 1912, and when you walk in, you feel like you're in somebody's cabin. There are plenty of mismatched comfy couches and leather armchairs surrounded by rugs, a fireplace, glass-encased shelves holding trinkets, and old-timey portraits framed in gold on the walls. And in the back is a nice outdoor bar surrounded by brick walls where you can grab a craft cocktail. The libations are crafted by Portland, Oregon's well-known barman, Evan Zimmerman. And their happy hour, which runs on weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., isn't too shabby, with select beers, wine and cocktails running from $5 to $7. We're particularly fond of some of their sharable bites, like their wild mushroom flatbread and king crab mac and cheese. —Jean Trinh
Magnolia House is located at 492 S Lake Avenue, Pasadena, (626) 584-1126
The 1933 Group nailed it with Sassafras, and this year they opened up another great bar called Harlowe. The aesthetic has that same well-worn look as some of their other establishments, but the cocktail program has its own special flare. It focusses more on European aperitif-style cocktails, and there are also bar bites by Eric Greenspan that cater to the bar's Old Hollywood theme. Both the food and the cocktail menus cater to that time period, giving West Hollywood a touch of turn-of-the-century romance.
Harlowe is located at 7321 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, (323) 876-5839
Melrose Umbrella Co
Melrose Umbrella Co. is one of those bars that when you step in, you feel like you're transported to the past. They do prohibition-era cocktails with flare, and also often have live entertainment making it a great spot for birthday celebrations and the like. What really makes it special is it's super social vibes without being too sleazy—a welcomed theme in the L.A. scene.
Melrose Umbrella Co. is located at 7465 Melrose Avenue, Fairfax District, (323) 951-0709