If we’re being honest, true relief from an L.A. summer can be found in a cold beer or a margarita, preferably served poolside. Still, an expertly made cocktail can serve as an exceedingly delicious respite from the heat. Below, you’ll find some of our favorite bars to grab a tipple, whether you’re in the mood for an elegant white from France or a strong hit of indie mezcal.
Employees Only helped pioneer the craft cocktail scene when it opened in New York City some years back. Since then, it’s been a reliable go-to for bevs made with house-crafted syrups and zippy infusions. At their Los Angeles outpost, EO continues a heritage of excellence from a throwback space in West Hollywood (think yellows, browns, naugahyde). There’s a patio out back for alfresco drinks and generously sized banquets inside to accommodate larger groups. As for the drinks, you’re in good hands. The team consists of pros formerly of watering holes like Jones, Belcampo, Bar Marmont, and The Roger Room.
7953 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
Highland Park Brewery Chinatown
Chinatown is one of the latest areas in Downtown L.A. to blow up. (David Chang’s Majordomo opened recently, to give you an idea of what’s happening over there.) With the arrival of Highland Park Brewery to the scene, the area provides you one more reason to make the trip down the 10. The local upstart, previously relegated to a small portion of the Hermosillo bar on York, has finally acquired the space to meet its demands. The room is airy and industrial, and the beers–as always–are excellent.
1220 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Introducing the jewel of Highland Park. Deep shades of emerald green, deep burgundy, and black set the stage for this sumptuous second-floor space, once the home of a Masonic lodge. Not just a bar, Checker Hall is foremost a Mediterranean restaurant, which means you can pair your daurade with carrot purée with something elegant like a glass of Cotes Du Rhone or, alternatively, saddle up to the bar and order the Tequila Slushie. Options abound.
104 N Ave 56, Los Angeles, CA 90042
Perhaps the last pink-themed room we’ll allow ourselves to fall in love with (one Instagrammer described it as “the Glossier of restaurants”), Oriel is a lovely Chinatown wine bar and restaurant that’s absolutely charming. Plants hang from exposed ceilings, tiny bulbs dimly illuminate. The whole thing screams “date night.” The food menu is très French, with dishes like steak tartar and the so-called “Duck in a Jar.” The wine list, with many by the bottle, is as extensive as it is thoughtful.
1135 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Birds & Bees
Birds & Bees is the kind of concrete-and-velvet cocktail den you walk into and then inevitably disappear for awhile. A sexy mid-century-inspired joint, the bar makes the most of its rather, err, un-sexy location on the lower level of an office building (read: basement). Come here midweek, when the lines aren’t long and the seats are yours for the taking.
207 South Broadway, B, Basement, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Anyone who’s ever logged on Instagram has likely seen Ostrich Farm, an extremely photogenic Los Angeles restaurant (that also happens to have good food). The same team has opened Bar Caló, a playfully designed all-day food and bev concept that’s sure to attract some attention itself. The bar menu comes courtesy of Bestia alum Jeremy Simpson, who turns his focus to seasonal flavors, Mexican wines, and mezcal from independent operations.
1498 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Photo courtesy of Chinh Le Duc