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Which of these has the best cocktails (or should I go to a wine bar)?

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Reading past posts, it looks like people like the vibe at:

Casa del Mar next to Shutters
Maggiano's at the Grove
Flint's

But where can I get the best cocktails that don't cost over $10? Martinis, cosmos, mojitos, manhattans, etc. Simple classics that are often botched at hip night clubs. I just want one awesome drink that I can sip for half the evening while gabbing with some gal pals. Dead silence not necessary, but no loud music or hoards of Friday night scenesters please.

A few munchies would be nice as well. Unless I can find a place for out of this world cocktails, I think we'll end up going the wine and cheese route at Upstairs2 or BottleRock. Anyone have comments on either of those?

TIA!

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  1. Not on your list, but I have to say they do make really good drinks at the Bowery. Unfortunately, if you're using premium liquor, it will run you over $10/drink. And it can get crowded, although I've generally never had a problem getting a table after a short wait (and they don't rush you at all). Also, the crowd seems to ebb and wane - sometimes it'll be nearly empty, sometimes packed. Their sweet potato fries are AWESOME, and their onion rings aren't bad either. This is one of my go-to places when I want to go out, and don't know where to go.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jacinthe

      I guess I'll have to try the Bowery one more time. We just wanted a quick before-Arclight drink last week, and after giving up on getting a drink at Hungry Cat (I love HC, but seriously, if they're going to offer drinks only on that patio to the side, they should offer service that comes by more than once every 30 minutes), we tried the Bowery. Unfortunately, we all ordered mojitos, recommended by the server, which were just plain foul. I think they forgot to put any sugar at all in them. Nasty.

    2. Don't know how far east you want to go, but the Edendale Grill has fantastic cocktails - all the classics, some of their own invention, and some old forgotten ones that deserve to be remembered...

      1. My girlfriends and I have had a great time at The Abbey in West Hollywood - beautiful boy watching (gay, of course:) light-hearted atmosphere, and wonderful mojitos and margaritas. Parking is not fun.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ElissaInPlaya

          Isn't the Abbey always insanely crowded inside, aside from the nightmare of parking?

          1. re: Pei

            Depends on when you go; generally, if you go early enough (say before 7 p.m.) you'll be able to get seats together without waiting too long. Later it probably depends on the night.

        2. Can I say what a great thread, you read my mind, it's exactly how I want to spend my evening tomorrow; it's such a crapshoot with all these hip new "ultra lounges" and you break the bank.... I was thinking, for myself, closer to Santa MOnica. Ideas? Ideas?

          1. Hal's on Abbott Kinney has a nice bar, it's loudish, but not unbearable. Nice people watching, and they know how to make a cocktail. James' Beach, way down Venice next to the water, has a nice mellow bar. If you go to Bottle Rock, they only have wine and beer. Also, the chairs are a little uncomfortable, not conducive for hours of sitting. But it's a nice place, with lovely wines, interesting bottled beer selection, and a nice staff.

            1 Reply