The Best Hollywood Bars (AKA The Ones That Aren't Tourist Hellholes)
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For a night of quality barhopping, savvy Angelenos rarely consider Hollywood -- and for good reason. Nightclubs with ridiculously expensive bottle service, "martinis" made with cloying liqueurs and hordes of tourists competing for elbow room are par for the course. But if you know where to look, Hollywood Boulevard is lined with great watering holes. All of the bars are within walking distance of each other (about 2 miles altogether), making them perfect for an epic barhop or a series of nights out.
Pro Tip: If walking up to a three-deep bar isn't your thing, plan your excursion for a weeknight.
The Spare Room
If all you want is a good drink, you don't need to reserve one of the two vintage bowling lanes or a Scrabble table at this schmancy gaming parlor but you can do that too. Simply pop into the bar on the mezzanine level of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and enjoy one of the unique creations from Yael Vengroff, anointed Best American Bartender at Tales of the Cocktail 2018. Prime your palate with the Salt & Vinegar Martini, a mix of potato vodka, dry vermouth, carrot dill brine and celery shrub.
7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. www.spareroomhollywood.com.
Musso & Frank
No Hollywood barhop is complete without an ice cold martini at Musso's, which celebrated its 99th anniversary in September. Everyone -- Charlie Chaplin, Steve McQueen, Johnny Depp -- once tippled here. Why not you? Grab a cocktail at the bar, hopefully from Ruben, who has been slinging drinks here since 1967. If you've got the dough, fortify your stomach with a classic steak dinner or, if you want to eat on the cheap, a bowl of the hearty, cheesy onion soup.
6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. mussoandfrank.com.
Warning: This oasis off the boulevard can easily stop any barhop in progress, either because the tropically themed surroundings lull you into a false staycation or the potent tiki drinks leave you under the table. Order a pina colada and sip it while perusing the mini tiki museum near the front bar. Unless you're ending your night, stay away from Lono's delicious zombie cocktail.
6611 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. lonohollywood.com.
Slip through the secret entrance at Houston Brothers' hotel-themed watering hole and make your way to the main bar. If it's too packed, there's always the back patio, a prime spot for people-watching and enjoying the occasional live band performance. Knock back a draft Moscow Mule and break your "no drunk photos" rule by hitting the photobooth at the bottom of the staircase, like Childish Gambino did.
1727 N. Hudson Ave., Hollywood. novacancyla.com.
Down the street from Capitol Records and around the corner from raucous sports bar 33 Taps, this whiskey bar by Jeremy Lake (Rosaline) is where you go to sip fine brown spirits. If mixed drinks are more your style, try the Jane's Addiction, a refreshing mix of vodka, fino sherry, Angostura bitters, orange, lemon and seltzer.
1704 Vine St., Hollywood. www.lostpropertybar.com.
A couple of blocks north of the Pantages, this bar inside the Kimpton Everly Hotel has live bands and a creative, music-inspired cocktail menu. Drinks are divided into categories such as Riffs (modern cocktails), Hits (classics) and Reissues (variations on classics). For something light, Going Back to Cali is a traditional sour with tequila and rose. If you need to power up your phone, they have charging outlets under the bar.
1800 Argyle Ave., Hollywood. everbarla.com.
Yes, the movie theater. Proprietors LLC, the folks behind Normandie Club and Honeycut, have created cinema-inspired cocktails like the Eliza, a light sparkling pear and lavender combo. Bonus: If you're going into a movie, you can bring your cocktail with you.
6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. www.arclightcinemas.com/en/locations/los-angeles/hollywood/
It's hard to visit a New Orleans-themed bar and not order a Sazerac or a Hurricane but Sassafras has so many other drinks. Whatever's in one of the two slushie machines is always a tempting option, as are the libations from bartender BC Hoffman (also of The Edison), like the Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, made with bourbon, watermelon rose sorbet and lemon, not Billy Corgan's self-pitying tears.
1233 N. Vine St., Hollywood. www.sassafrassaloon.com.
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