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Speakeasy Cocktails Have Arrived At This Hollywood Nightclub
The cocktail revolution has made its way to the Hollywood clubbing scene. Sort of. If you go downstairs at The Argyle Hollywood, clubbing standards like vodka Red Bulls are making way for sophisticated, speakeasy-style cocktails in mason jars.
The Argyle Hollywood, which launched in August, sits where TRU Hollywood once was. It has the same owners (Peter Younan and George Younan) but it's been heavily revamped to become a Great Gatsby-themed club. Upstairs is the nightclub; it's decorated in Art Deco style with gold accents, black-and-white checkered floors and purple reptilian leather couches. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling, but lest we forget this is a club, row after row of long, pole-like 3D LED lights surround that chandelier. They light up during EDM and top 40s nights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Here, you can get your shots and quick drinks before you head to the dance floor.
However, downstairs in their cocktail den, there is a surprisingly different vibe. As you walk down the stairs, a wall of old-timey clocks (charmingly set to the wrong time) line the hallway to a cozy den with books, dark leather couches, rugs and a fireplace. The music is different as well—a DJ here is spinning '80s and '90s rock and well as some more indie tunes. (The club owners wanted to give their patrons a "varietal experience" so that they could pop bottles if they wanted to upstairs or go somewhere with a chiller vibe downstairs in their speakeasy.)
Fresh herbs in mason jars and bottles of bitters line the bar here with nary an appletini in sight. Barman Chris Hewes, formerly at Roosevelt's Library Bar, heads the drink program here. He likes to consult his bar patrons on their drinks. He encourages people tell him what they like to drink, what they've been eating, their favorite fruits and vegetables, and then will whip up something different for them each time to match their palates .He gets his ingredients from farmers markets and spice stations, and has his special guys he goes to for salt, bitters and purees.
When LAist stopped by recently for a tasting, we told him we had a hankering for whiskey. He created his "Smoke Show" drink with whiskey, chocolate and walnut bitters, and the citrus-flavored Amaro CioCiaro liqueur. And then he used a hand-held smoker filled with wood chips; the device had a long tube that went into the drink that transported the smoke flavor into the cocktail. It had a complex flavor profile and we enjoyed the bitters.
For our next drink, we requested something refreshing, and Hewes presented in a mason jar an arugula, cucumber and spiced St. Germaine tequila cocktail. And true to his style, it was a light drink without being overly sweet.
Hewes is a firm believer in not making sugary drinks; he prefers using more natural ingredients like agave. "When you're drinking throughout the night, all the sugary drinks give you a headache," Hewes told LAist. "I'm confident if you drink with me throughout the night, you can wake up without a hangover."
While the upstairs club won't have quite the same complex drinks as the downstairs speakeasy, Hewes has curated some specialty cocktails for the club.
Also, in their downstairs speakeasy, the Argyle Hollywood folks plan on serving food soon—small plate options. In the same vein as their cocktail program, they want their guests to have a varietal experience. They'll rotating out different chefs and changing up the menu on the regular. Hewes is working closely with the chefs so he can plan on alcohol pairings with the dishes.
When we sampled the dishes made by two chefs, Vanessa Lauren (a contestant on The Taste) and Paul Policopio, they were going for global fusion. They made sharable dishes like bruschetta, tuna tartar, shrimp ceviche, and caprese. The items weren't revolutionary, but they were tasty, had well-balanced flavors and were made with high quality, fresh ingredients. Take the caprese, for instance—it was made with opal basil and tigerella heirloom tomatoes. And with their cheese tortellini with an herb sauce, Hewes paired it with a candy-cap mushroom-infused whiskey. They complemented each other perfectly.
The team behind The Argyle Hollywood plan on rolling out new additions to the club and cocktail den as time goes on. They might open up another side bar next to the actual bar in the cocktail den hidden behind a large grandfather clock. Hewes has plans to eventually start serving his own alcohol-infused marshmallows made of agave and xanthan gum, and pairing them with a drink. There may even be his own natural Redbull vodka one day, made with yerba matte infused tequila, ginger beer, honey and lemon.
The Argyle Hollywood is located at 1600 Argyle Avenue, Hollywood; (323) 461-1600. The nightclub upstairs is open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. The downstairs cocktail den is open from Monday through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. There is no cover for the downstairs bar. Cocktails range from $10 to $17, beer at $7, and small plates from $8 to $16.
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