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Cocktails

I'll be in LA for the weekend, and I'm looking to have some stupendous cocktails.

Historically oriented cocktail sensibility preferred. I'll be staying in Redondo Beach, but I'm willing to take a long drive. (Don't worry, I'll have a DD!) This may be impossible on a weekend night, but I'd prefer a place that I can sit down, and where I can hear what my companion is saying. If that means I have to wait for a table and pay ~$15 for a (hopefully out-of-this-world) cocktail, so be it. Thanks!

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  1. Comme Ca! And they're *only* $14. You can sit at the very small bar, and may be able to hear your companion since you'll be sitting close to each other at the bar. Otherwise, the restaurant gets VERY noisy. BUT, their drinks are fantastic. They will tell you that they are all about the modern take on prohibition era style cocktails. They chip ice from ice blocks. They have a few drinks listed on the drinks menu, really just as examples. You tell them what you're in the mood for, and they'll make it up. And put on a show, shaking that drink. Fabulous.

    5 Replies
    1. re: slacker

      If you can, make it over to Providence on Melrose. Call ahead to make sure Vincenzo is there. You'll have a few knock-your-socks-off cocktails if he's in. Trust me.

      R. Jason Coulston

      1. re: Jason_Coulston

        Ah yes, I need to experience his drinks.

      2. re: slacker

        Will I be able to get a spot at the bar at Comme Ca on a Saturday night?

        1. re: mhoffman

          I guess the weekend has come and gone. Please let us know where you ended up.

        2. re: slacker

          http://www.carolineoncrack.com/catego...

          has great and fun reviews of 135 plus places!

        3. Abode. Fantastic mixologist, interesting drink menu. Before 7PM, drinks and apps are $7.

          Citrus at the old Social Hollywood.

          Hidden in Santa Monica

          Trader Vics cocktails are available at the Beverly Hilton hotel, poolside.

          3 Replies
          1. re: yogachik

            "Ah yes, I need to experience his drinks."

            One time I asked Vincenzo to create a cocktail pairing for my cheese course. I have no idea what he was up to back there, but I know I received an absolute revelation of a cocktail with a deep floral and honey flavor that paired quite brilliantly with the food.

            R. Jason Coulston

            1. re: yogachik

              Regarding Abode, is the happy hour every day, including Saturdays? And do you have to sit at the bar or can you reserve a regular table and still order from the $7 before 7 special?

              1. re: yogachik

                Yogachick, thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, I think we have different tastes.

                Abode's looks far too vodka-heavy for my taste. I want cocktail history! Gin and rye please, and lots of bitters! Citrus doesn't list their cocktails online (at least not where I can find them), but I'm turned off by their apparent corporateness (just look at that URL!). Hidden doesn't have a website (duh), but I was turned off by the mention on "Cosmojitos" in a Yelp review. Yikes!

                Trader Vic's is definitely a place I'd like to visit, but I want to go for quality over kitsch on this visit, since I really only have time for one place...

              2. The best cocktail I've had in years was served to me at Osteria Mozza. I don't remember the name, but it was made with tequila, campari and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice.

                Hungry Cat has a very nice cocktail menu, and uses freshly squeezed juices, etc. in their cocktails. They make both classic and "seasonal" cocktails and the cocktail menu is on their webpage.

                Comme Ca uses block ice and chips their own "cubes." They too have a nice cocktail menu.

                All of these are restaurants at which you would need a reservation to get a table, but the bars are open seating, first come, first served.

                http://www.mozza-la.com/osteria/about...

                http://www.thehungrycat.com/

                http://www.commecarestaurant.com/

                7 Replies
                1. re: DanaB

                  There was an article recently about Vincenzo in the LA Times, he's no longer at Providence...
                  http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

                  1. re: MariaFeliz

                    I knew he was being stolen for the Doheny, but didn't realize that it's opening so soon. Thought I could catch him at providence before he left. bummer.

                    1. re: slacker

                      love the seasonal cocktail at hungry cat...food don't suck there either

                      1. re: rickym13

                        I'm with slacker, I knew he was leaving but last I heard he was still with Providence. I was on MyMixology.com last week checking out the "Rhode Island Red" recipe. Apparently he's attained cult-status in Los Angeles. It looks like I'll have to look into the Doheny.

                        R. Jason Coulston

                        1. re: Jason_Coulston

                          FYI, excerpted from 01/28/2008 Downtown News:

                          "…Moses' current project, the Doheny, brings Downtown full circle. Set to open next month, it is a flashback to the old social clubs that once flourished in the city's center.

                          The $1 million private membership club will cater to those with means and status, including power players in politics, arts, fashion and business. Doheny members must be invited to join and the privilege will cost - $2,200 a year plus a one-time initiation fee of $2,750 (10% goes to local charities). …
                          ***
                          The Doheny will give the private club concept a modern, speakeasy twist. For starters, its Staples Center-adjacent address is being kept under wraps (though there is plenty of speculation) and its restricted entry via a biometric fingerprint recognition system is only fueling the frenzy for access. The venue, which will initially cap its roster at about 200 guests, already has an interest list of more than 1,000 people."

                          http://www.downtownnews.com/articles/...

                          1. re: Jason_Coulston

                            Well, if you are *allowed* to pony up $$$$ to join the Doheny, please invite us in! :)

                    2. re: DanaB

                      I'll be eating at Pizzaria Mozza on Sunday night. Perhaps I will order a cocktail...

                    3. For genuine old school, it might be fun to go to Musso & Franks in Hollywood - it's a big down-at-the-heels but if you order a martini it comes with a sidecar (not the drink, a little carafe with extra in it) - and the old-fashioneds and manhattans seem to conjure old LA. And the gimlets have those green cherries in them...

                      1. The only place where I trust the bartenders to make classic cocktails like sidecars, last words, and corpse revivers: The Hungry Cat. They're one of the few that'll actually have Sazerac, lillet and all the bitters. Combine that with all that fresh citrus, and you've got cocktail nirvana.

                        1. Have not been yet but have heard Seven Grand fits your requirements:

                          http://www.sevengrand.la/main.html

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Discokill

                            Agreed that Seven Grand will probably be best if you lean towards "historic" cocktails, likewise with Edison in Downtown. However, Comme Ca, Providence & Lucques, despite their inclination towards more modern cocktails, should be able to make classic drinks to your liking.

                            Comme Ca and Edison though can be quite noisy on weekends...

                            ~H.C.
                            http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                            1. re: AquaW

                              Seven Grand will fit the bill if you are really into whiskeys and scotches. They can make other drinks but that's really not their focus. The Edison cocktails are good strong drinks in a historic location, but the drinks themselves are nowhere near the level of the drinks at Comme Ca, Hungry Cat.

                          2. Agree with Hungry Cat as well as Comme Ca. What I like about Comme Ca is that you can tell them vaguely what you're in the mood for (or just your favorite liquor, as well as flavors you do/don't like) and they'll make something for you. This exchange, though, works better at the bar, I think, so you can have a bit of back-and-forth with the bartender... but when I've done it at dinner (with the waiter taking my order down), I've not been disappointed. And I've yet to have a bad cocktail at Hungry Cat.

                            Also, I was at S-Bar about a month or so back, and was very impressed with their drinks as well, as many trendy bars/clubs don't tend to have actually good cocktails.

                            1. Lucques has some fantastic seasonal cocktails as well as the classics. Bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable and the atmosphere is perfect for lingering.
                              Snag a seat near the fireplace and relax in the comfy couches... and enjoy the delicious bread, butter, olives and almonds they serve. The perfect night.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: SarahM

                                "Lucques has some fantastic seasonal cocktails as well as the classics"

                                You know, I actually forgot about some of the great cocktails we've had there. On Sundays in particular, it seems the bar is usually doing something interesting and potentially thematic with the Sunday Supper concept. I remember one time when we were there for fried chicken with all of the Southern fixings, the bar was offering a "Tennessee Sunshine" consisting (if I remember correctly) of two different kinds of bourbon, lemon, orange, and mint. Lovely.

                                R. Jason Coulston

                                1. re: Jason_Coulston

                                  Yes, I remember the Tennessee Sunshine - they've also recently had one on the seasonal menu called "the sparrow" which consists of light rum, fresh citrus juice, vanilla and elderflower syrup. It's perfect. The ginger mule they do is superb, too.

                              2. Went to Comme Ca last night for the first time - can't recommend it enough if you're looking for a stupendous cocktail. Very fresh ingredients, old school preparation (who new the type of ice used in a cocktail could truly make a difference?!), knowledgable and creative bartenders... oh, and the food is great, too. But the cocktails. Wow. Be prepared to shout though, the noise level is pretty high but appropriate for the fun, outgoing atmosphere. The bar only has 7 seats, so you kind of need to squeeze in and be ok with a few elbows here and there.

                                1. HUNGRY CAT
                                  HUNGRY CAT
                                  HUNGRY CAT
                                  They have THEEEEE best cocktails!!! I usually only drink wine when I go out and they have a great wine list...I've only ordered wine 2x because I cannot resist the cocktails...fresh juices, amazing GIN and I don't even care for gin, but there, I crave it...I'll even order rum, or bourbon...aaaah, the Dark and Stormy..mmmm.
                                  ENJOY!

                                  1. We ended up grabbing a drink at Mozza Osteria before dinner at the pizzeria. We had a gin-cucumber number (one of my very favorite combinations), and a fennel-honey bourbon concoction. Both excellent, if not revelatory. Thanks for all the tips! I'll definitely try some of these places next time I'm in town.

                                    p.s. Dinner at the pizzeria was as good as the hype.

                                    1. I'd say stay on the coast. You've got Manhattan Beach! There are plenty of places in that city alone and from what I remember, Manhattan Beach rages!

                                      1. if you want old-school cocktails you have to hit old-school venues!

                                        polo lounge at the beverly hills hotel
                                        musso & frank grill
                                        dresden room

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          I can see recommending Musso & Franks for a perfect martini, or the Polo Lounge for ambiance, but the Dresden Room is more notable for making quick drinks for the crowd of wanna-be "swingers" waiting around to act out their 15 minutes of fame. It's a classic place to have drinks in LA, but not a great place to have well-made cocktails.

                                          1. re: DanaB

                                            i stand corrected.

                                        2. for old school:
                                          seven grand
                                          musso (martinis, of course)

                                          and does everyone hate the bowery? it's certainly not old-school, but they're not a cosmojito place either. as long as they know what you're after, they'll do a good job. (plus the food is super comforting)

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: e_ting

                                            Re: Bowery - I love the place, but some of the bartenders have no idea how to make drinks, which is a pity (as when they first opened, they had awesome bartenders). I ordered a mint julep a couple of months ago - or attempted to, at least - and the bartender said he didn't know how to make one that didn't come from a mix. I quickly changed my order. For a place to hang out, eat sweet potato fries, and have a drink, it's still one of my favorite places. But for a place where I'm looking for great cocktails? Not so much.