The Cocktail Gadabout #88

Los Angeles

  • IMG_1794WGB – The Varnish (left): The Varnish is an excellent speakeasy type bar at the back of the famous Cole’s restaurant downtown.  Routinely ranked as one of the world’s best bars, it is absolutely worth a visit.  I found the service casual but excellent and the cocktails were nothing short of outstanding.  Try the Elevenses if still on the menu.
  • WGB – The Walker Inn: The tasting cocktail menu at this WGB lived up to the hype. The clarified Bloody Mary (think clear) with side tomato jam toast was nothing short of spectacular. The bar is small, dark and library-esque; all seemingly required attributes for the growing number of ‘secret’ back bars. The theme of the night was ‘A Day on A Boat at Sea’. As such, the cocktail flight represented a chronology of marine experiences, less motion sickness, thankfully. That said, I wasn’t quite sure the bartender who announced the nautical thinking behind each drink had genuinely bought into the concept. Not quite a true molecular bar, The Walker Inn successfully incorporates novel and progressive techniques into drink-making without getting carried away.
  • The Normandie Club: The front bar to The Walker Inn, The Normandie Club is a standalone outfit in its own right. The cocktails and ambiance is more straightforward but the drinks were still of the highest quality. Worth a visit, especially if you can’t get into The Walker Inn.
  • Musso & Frank: This dining institution on Hollywood Boulevard is an absolute must for so many reasons. As the longest running restaurant in Hollywood, the place has an incredible history and patina of the past. The waiters where red jackets and ties and the martinis are known the world over. Ask for them extra cold, as mine came a little warm for my liking.  
  • Melrose Umbrella Company: I was a bit surprised to walk into what could easily be described as a giant barn, especially in downtown Los Angeles. All that was missing were farm animals. It definitely made for a unique drinking experience. The cocktails, however, were great, and as such lived up to its reputation. 
  • Bar 1886 at The Raymond: I loved this out-of-the-way bar next to a well known local restaurant. The low-ceiling room almost felt like the dining car on a train. The cocktail menu was Looney Tunes themed, and came in an old VHS box. More importantly, my peach-infused pisco drink called the ‘Hey Arnold Palmer’ was outstanding. Well worth a visit.

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