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Cocktail bars and restaurant suggestions

My fiancé and I will be in Los Angeles this week for vacation and I would like to surprise him with a nice dinner and some after dinner cocktails. We will be staying in westwood. Looking for an upscale restaurant with a lively scene and great food. I do not have a particular cuisine in mind however no Italian. As for the cocktail bar...he appreciates bartenders who can make a mean drink based off of what you like...not off the menu. He loves Death and Co in NYC if anyone has been or is familiar with it. Any suggestions would be appreciated...thank you!!!!!

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  1. Red Medicine would be a good choice.

    1. Tasting Kitchen in Venice? A drive from Westwood, but you should or probably will be hitting Abbot Kinney anyhow. Great street to walk up and down and then cap it off with dinner. A link to their cocktail menu (not updated):

      http://www.thetastingkitchen.com/drin...

      I'd also recommend Gjelina a block or so away also for the food, but no cocktails. Easy to do Gjelina for dinner then walk over to Tasting Kitchen however.

      http://www.gjelina.com/

      1. Craft. Great bar and good food too. They make their own infused liqueurs too.

        1. for cocktails, i'd recommend the varnish in downtown la. started by the same guy that opened milk and honey in nyc. it'll fit perfectly with his love for death and co. it's behind the back door of cole's. even if there's a wait for varnish, cole's would have excellent cocktails while you waited as well.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cdub

            Cdub this bar sounds exactly like what I am looking for - thanks for the suggestion. What has been your experience in regards to the wait on a Friday or Saturday night?

            And thanks to all for the suggestions....we are in town for 5 nights so we will try to make it to as many places as possible. Looking to possibly move to the LA area from Boston.

            1. re: Wolfielvsfood

              Varnish is a great spot and really fits the description of what you're looking for cocktail bar wise. They really shine when you tell them to just make you something based on your tastes-I've enjoyed pretty much every drink I've had there.
              It is a small place and can get pretty crowded on Fridays and Saturdays so definitely try to go there earlier if you can. If there is a wait, I second cdub's rec of getting some libations at the Cole's bar to pass the time or if you two are into tequila, Las Perlas is right across the street.

              1. re: crystaw

                it's a crap shoot. i've been told no wait on a saturday night before and i've been told that they may not be able to accomidate me as well. however, coles is more than respectible. even if you had to "settle" for a cocktail at coles, you're really not settling.

          2. If you don't mind dining in downtown LA then Rivera would be a good fit for what you've outlined in your post. http://www.riverarestaurant.com/

            3 Replies
            1. re: Servorg

              This place sounds great...so many options!

              1. re: Wolfielvsfood

                Rivera still has the best cocktails in downtown and probably food too. The drinks on the menu are very creative and delicious. Varnish is better at the standard old school drinks. Creative ones are more hit and miss. Varnish has that speakeasy thing but I hate that there is no bar stools, and they take forever to make a damn drink.