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12 Hottest New Bars and Lounges Around LA

By Lesley Balla
July 7, 2014

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 swank cocktail lounges from bar kingpins, barcades and two British-inspired spots across town. Take a spin around below and get that designated driver handy.

  • The Chestnut Club

    Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix, barmen extraordinaires and co-owners of Black Market Liquor and Scopa Italian Roots, are adding to your liquid-diet needs with this Santa Monica newcomer. The duo took over Central, a longstanding neighborhood bar and music venue, and turned it into a swank cocktail lounge, complete with brick walls, tufted leather banquettes and perfectly dim lights. Take a look around, and you’ll notice the backlit walls of liquor bottles — all the better to showcase the eclectic spirits selection, with a  heavy emphasis on gin and whiskey. Sip things like the Spanish gin and tonic (properly served in a goblet), a rye- and mezcal-based El Camino, or something as simple as a beer and a shot. It’s still a neighborhood joint, after all.

    1348 14th St.; 310-393-1348

  • Photo by: Frank Ishman

    Good Times at Davey Wayne’s

    The funky Hollywood bar is the latest from Mark and Jonnie Houston, the brothers known for hot spots like La Descarga, Pour Vous and No Vacancy. This time it’s a throwback to the '70s, complete with a vintage shop in front (you walk through the refrigerator door), wood paneling and an awesome patio in back with a deck, grassy area, hammocks and a trailer bar — that's right, a small trailer that's been converted into a bar. Try the They Call Me Maurice, a twist on the classic grasshopper made with mezcal. Or just go for the boozy sno-cones out on the patio. It’s too easy to get stuck here too long.

    1611 N. El Centro Ave.; 323-515-3401

  • Harlowe

     The 1933 Group (Thirsty Crow, Bigfoot Lodge, Oldfield's) refurbished West Hollywood's former Crown Bar and turned it into this mostly drinking den (there's food too) that has that vintage look and feel Bobby Green has become known for, with periwinkle tiles, refurbished stools from an early-20th-century tavern, funky old portraits on the walls, tufted leather banquettes and more. There's a large patio for outdoor imbibing, which makes this a must-hit for the summer. Cocktails run the gamut, from bottled elixirs (instead of bottle service, like its predecessors) including Sazeracs and Pisco Punch; Moscow Mules and Negronis, among others, on tap; and shaken and stirred concoctions from barman Dushan Zaric. Nibbles come courtesy of consulting chef Eric Greenspan, who came up with fun noshy things like fried smelts and fries, cheese poufs and open-faced fried bologna sandwiches. The bar opens daily at 5 PM.

    7321 Santa Monica Blvd.; 323-876-5839

  • Beelman’s Pub

    The latest watering hole from the ACME Group, those behind neighborhood favorites Spring St, Sixth Street Tavern, Laurel Tavern, King Eddy Saloon and the Library Bar, debuted this week in the heart of the Historic District. Because it's really only a few doors away from Spring St, Beelman's Pub takes a more British stance on the block, offering gastropub fare, an interesting spirits selection (aquavit, amari, rum, gin), Belgian-style beers and specialty cocktails created by the Proprietor LLC guys (Honeycut, NYC's Death + Company). That means you can sip two kinds of gin and tonics (one English, one Spanish) and things like Hot Pants, a vodka, Aperol and strawberry-pinepple soda concoction served on draft. While the nice long bar and few booths are cozy inside, the patio is where it’s at. Here, you can watch the Downtown scene pass by from picnic tables and blue bistro chairs set up on the recessed brick-walled patio.

    600 S. Spring St.; 213-622-1022

  • EightyTwo

    Where mixology meets Mario Brothers. Or Pac-Man, pinball tournaments, DJs and booze. It must be heaven, at least to video-game nerds who love beer and tequila or whiskey to go along with their arcade fun. This Arts District bar is racking up points for the super-fun vibe, cheap arcade games (25-cent and 50-cent play), and cocktails, including cold-brew coffee cocktails made with LAMILL blends, because you need an extra buzz to keep that high score. Open nightly until 2 AM; closed on Mondays.

    707 E. Fourth Pl.; 213-626-8200

  • Brit Bar

    Redecorated by Room & Board and Jaguar, which is heavily branded here, and relaunched with new menus, there's more reason to check out Brit Bar Lounge and Rooftop West at the London Hotel. From its 10th-floor perch, you can see around WeHo and Beverly Hills and all the way to Downtown, making a nice backdrop for sipping cocktails, hard ciders and British beer. The lounge area is decked out with new sofas, tables, a lot of Union Jack prints and pops of color, and umbrellas for shading the early-evening drinkers and diners. Drinks skew English but with LA style, like the Pink Lady, a gin and lemonade sipper for summer, or the London Pops, a frozen blackberry and vodka shot served with a Popsicle stick. The rooftop restaurant and lounge are open to hotel guests. Reservations are required for everyone else.

    1020 N. San Vicente Blvd.; 310-358-7788

  • Photo by: Palihouse

    Sunset Cocktail Lounge at Palihouse

    Everyone loves a secret hideaway, and the Palihouse  “boutique urban lodge” is just that. Now there’s a lounge on the roof with amazing views, open only Thursday through Saturday. Sit around the tile-lined bar in the center or lounge in one of the brightly colored sofas or Adirondack chairs and take in the views. Cocktails veer from classic martinis to hibiscus sparklers made with vodka and champagne ($15). Snacks are limited, with things like cheddar-bacon tater tots, truffle fries and fish tacos (all $8). Short of booking the space for a party or renting/staying in a room downstairs, the only way to gain access is by emailing sunset@palihouse.com.

    8465 Holloway Dr.; 323-656-4100

  • 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 boutique 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

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Upstairs 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

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Places Mentioned

Honeycut

Cocktail Bar • Downtown

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
The Greyhound Bar & Grill

Bar • Highland Park

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostI
 
 
 
Pot Lobby Bar

Bar • Koreatown

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
 
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