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12 Hottest New Bars and Lounges Around LA

By Lesley Balla
March 19, 2014

Welcome to the Zagat #BarBlitz, our one-day celebration of all things shaken, stirred and sipped. Make sure to watch for more reasons to toast the LA cocktail scene today, and keep the party going on Twitter and Instagram.

Whether it's hidden discos with draft cocktails or new rooftop bars overlooking the Downtown skyline, there's always something new and intoxicating on the Los Angeles nightlife scene. In our latest batch of hot new nightspots, you'll find uni cocktails, highballs of every ilk and a secret whiskey hideaway where top dollar reigns. Take a spin around below and have that designated driver handy.

  • Pot Lobby Bar

    Only Roy Choi could get away with serving kimchi soju in a hotel lobby bar, and only Choi could call that bar Pot. The chef was tapped to oversee the food and beverage program at The Line Hotel, a new boutiqe hotel that replaced Koreatown's Radisson. The lobby bar is like a swank puzzle of angled banquettes and cozy pentagonal-shaped booths, with a bar that looks almost like a wooden mushroom with shiny balloons spelling out “pot bar” nesting in the top. Boxes full of toy water guns and colorful glasses, big bowls of fruit, Mexican candelas, lollipop roses, tamarind sticks and bowls of candy line the bar. The vibe is playful, low-key, groovy and dark. In a word: Choi. The cocktails curated by Matt Biancaniello, a barman known for keeping things like uni, nori, dill, arugula and mushrooms in his arsenal, veer from the creatively straightforward (mezcal and tonic) to curry-infused soju and Long Island Iced Teas made with blood orange soda. 

    3515 Wilshire Blvd.; 213-368-3030

  • Photo by: Melrose Umbrella Co.

    Melrose Umbrella Co.

    Driving down Melrose on any given gorgeous LA day, you might wonder why someone would open an umbrella company where The Foundry used to be. Truth is, the new throwback bar doesn't sell umbrellas at all, just classic cocktails that harken back to when Prohibition was repealed and an umbrella with falling raindrops signified 'Many Wet Days to Come'. Filled with vintage artifacts, from actual umbrellas hanging over wooden booths to vaulted ceilings, wood beams, 1920s apothecary cabinets, fireplaces and subway tiles, it’s a complete transformation from Eric Greenspan's old restaurant. You'll find all the requisite accouterments for drinks - housemade tinctures, syrups and tonics, fresh juices and artisanal spirits - in reinterpreted classics and new concoctions. 

    7465 Melrose Ave.; 323-951-0709

  • Photo by: The Greyhound

    The Greyhound

    A gastropub that doesn't want to be called a gastropub, this big, airy Highland Park bar has a good selection of spirits, amari, craft brews and cocktails, along with bar food like Buffalo shrimp po' boys, chicken wings, pastrami sandwiches and deep-fried snacks. Designed by Ana Henton (Mass-Arch), layers of the historic space were peeled away to reveal original brick and white tile floors, which were incorporated into the polished look. It's comfortable, not too fancy and still fits the HP vibe: nods to the growing hipster culture come in the shape of things like the Fernet Branca bike hanging near the door and cans of Old Milwaukee on the menu. 

    5570 N. Figueroa St.; 323-900-0300

  • Bar Jackalope

    The spirits experts behind Seven Grand have gotten even more serious with this backroom bar inside the Downtown LA whiskey haven. With its own entrance - press the light switch to get in and you'll get instructions in both English and Japanese (the concept is based on Japanese whiskey bars) - the secret spot is for lovers of brown spirits and then some. There are more than 120 different American bourbons and ryes, Scotch and Japanese whiskies, including many rare and cult brands like Pappy Van Winkle, Balvenie Tun 1401 and Four Roses Limited Edition Release. Sip them neat or with fancy ice, or try in Manhattans, Old Fashioneds or the one bespoke offering of the night. Premium Japanese beers are also available. 

    515 W. Seventh St.; 213-614-0736

  • City Tavern Downtown

    The Culver City gastropub now has a sibling at the Figat7th complex in Downtown LA. Now doubled in size, there’s a big bar and dining room for happy hour or comfort-food-laden dinners. The exposed brick and blackboards might be contrived, but it helps transform what’s basically a mall restaurant into something warmer. Classic cocktails are nicely done, and the beer selection flowing from 28 taps is fantastic, with mostly local stuff like Haven Gastropub’s El Barista Rojo, a nitro red coffee ale, and The Dudes Double Trunk double IPA. 

    735 S. Figueroa St.; 213-239-5654

  • Seventy7 North

    This new Studio City cocktail lounge with dark leather booths, shimmering chandeliers and vintage velvet feels speakeasy-esque, circa early 20th century. Like its Culver City brother, Seventy7 Lounge, cocktails run the gamut from spirit-forward whiskey quaffs to mezcal and Aperol concoctions. There’s also food, including truffle fries, beet salads and thin-crust pizzas. 

    12514 Ventura Blvd.; 818-985-9021

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    The Roof at The Ace Hotel

    The rooftop bar at the über-trendy hotel is already a draw, with pictures of the building's spires showing up all over social media. Is this the new iconic LA shot? White leather and rattan chairs, views in all directions, sunsets, mai tais and other buzzy quaffs are definite magnets. The mezzanine bar above the hotel restaurant, LA Chapter, is a good place to start before making your way up the elevator. 

    929 S. Broadway; 213-623-3233

  • Photo by: Proprietors LLC

    Honeycut

    The guys from 213 Ventures (Seven Grand, The Varnish, etc.) and Proprietors LLC (NYC's Death + Co.) got together to open this new speakeasy-ish bar and music club located behind the O Hotel. The massive space has two rooms: one where you play pool and linger at tufted booths for piano music, and another, the Disco, for underground DJs, live bands and dancing. The cocktails are king: Dave Kaplan and Alex Day, who consult on many cocktail programs around town, including at the O Hotel, offer more than 50 different craft, bottled and draft concoctions. To find it, head down the alley parallel to Flower Street, accessible from Eighth or Ninth Streets. 

    819 S. Flower St.; 213-688-0888

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Wolf & Crane

    Little Tokyo has a new watering hole, the first to open with a full liquor license since the '80s, one with a good whiskey list, craft beers and happy hour. The spacious bar took over the former Second Street Jazz space near Central Avenue, now streamlined with blond woods, cool wallpaper made from Japanese comic books, simple prints and geometric tables along lounge banquettes. You’ll probably hear things like Depeche Mode and other '80s music overhead, with TVs turned to whatever game is on, just like any good neighborhood bar. Highballs are the name of the game here, things like The Uptown, a sweeter twist on a Manhattan with rye, Cherry Heering and cola, or the even sweeter Fernet Pop, which mixes the heady digestif with root beer. The simplest of the bunch, the classic Highball with Johnny Red and soda water, is easy, clean and always only $6. For happy hour (Monday through Friday, 5-7 PM), there are at least two draft beers, two wines and all well drinks for only $5. If you get hungry, you're in the middle of Little Tokyo - endless options. 

    366 E. Second St.; 213-935-8249

  • DBA

    It’s shrouded in enough mystery that everyone will want to be there soon enough. The new nightclub/art space/dance club DBA, which stands for “doing business as,” is partially operated by Cardiff Giant, the guys behind The Churchill, The Hudson and forthcoming Fifty Seven in downtown LA. The former Voyeur space hosts a new curator every three or four months, and he/she takes full creative control of everything: the name of the “exhibition,” decor, fixtures, staging, set and costumes. The debut saw a burlesque show from mastermind Simon Hammerstein from the Box, a Manhattan club known for avant-garde performances; next is For the Record: Tarantino, which moves from Rockwell Table & Stage to the WeHo spot for performances on Thursday through Sunday nights. Cocktails are from Alex Day and Dave Kaplan of Proprietors LLC, the same duo behind Honeycut in Downtown LA. 

    7969 Santa Monica Blvd.

  • Photo by: Pablo Moix

    Scopa

    Barmen Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix (Harvard & Stone, La Descarga, Pour Vous) and their chef/partner at Black Market Liquor Bar, Antonia Lafaso (Top Chef, Spago), debuted Scopa Italian Roots in Venice this fall. Consider this the Westside's new home to mezcal, tequila, rhum agricole, amaros and more artisanal spirits, plus a wine program from former Animal and Trois Mec GM Ashley Ragovin. Lafaso's menu of Italian-American dishes like arancini stuffed with ground beef and peas, meatball subs topped with burrata, and rigatoni with meat sauce, among other things, will help soak those bevs up. The bar is open nightly from 5 PM-2 AM. 

    2905 W. Washington Blvd.; 310-821-1100

  • Dirty Laundry

    Mark and Jonnie Houston are at it again. On the heels of their No Vacancy debut, they opened a quirky basement speakeasy next door. They say Dirty Laundry was actually Rudolph Valentino's speakeasy, where he'd escape with some Hollywood honeys under the Boulevard - and that doesn't seem too far-fetched, even if it is Silver Screen lore. Like their other spots La Descarga, where entry is half the fun (you walk through an armoire to the bar): to get in you have to find the call box and press in a code name - you'll get that by following Twitter. Also like their other spots, the decor pays homage to the history of the space, with vintage wallpaper, antique light fixtures and tufted banquettes. The drinks, of course, are key, here taking playful riffs on classics like Manhattan slushies, barrel-aged cocktails and juleps garnished with Pop Rocks. Dress to impress, but cocktail attire isn't necessary. DJs will keep the dance floor pretty full. Dirty Laundry airs it out Tuesdays through Saturdays beginning at 10 PM. 

    1725 Hudson Ave.; 323-462-6531

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Places Mentioned

No Vacancy

Cocktail Bar • Hollywood

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Honeycut

Cocktail Bar • Downtown

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Scopa Italian Roots

Italian • Los Angeles

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Wolf and Crane

Bar • Downtown

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The Greyhound Bar & Grill

Bar • Highland Park

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Pot Lobby Bar

Koreatown

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Seventy7 North

Studio City

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
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Bar Jackalope

Downtown

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
 
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