Travel

Los Angeles Bars & Nightlife

Establishment neighborhood
The Normandie Club
3612 W. 6th St., Koreatown
If you're looking for a bar to impress visiting friends, you have now found it. The space is as classy and refined as it is cool—dark leather chairs, painted brick, and low lighting. The drinks are, in a word: impressive. The mixologists at the Normandie Club have invented house specialties that all put a unique spin on a classic: a daiquiri with a salted-grapefruit cordial, an old-fashioned with coconut bourbon. Our favorite is the shandy: a crisp lager elevated with Suze, blueberry mint syrup, and a squeeze of lemon. The drink is crisp, refreshing, and sweet without being cloying. There's also a generous selection of global liquors, including brandy, Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky, mezcal, tequila, and cider on tap. Given there's no food, this is a perfect spot for a nightcap after dinner.
HMS Bounty
3357 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown
Everything about this place speaks of comfort: the friendly, loyal servers; the kitschy, nautical vibe; the jazz jukebox in the corner; and the complete lack of pretense. The Bounty is a classic, dark, dive-y LA landmark that's endured despite K-town’s hipster invasion—and the prices have stayed relatively low. We don't come here for the food (although the fish and chips is solid); we come for the generous, consistent drinks. There's comfort in knowing that it's always the same every time we come. But you know what else is consistent? How far away the bathrooms are (which is: in the adjacent historic hotel, past the lobby desk, down the dark basement stairs, and next to the laundry room).
Bar Stella
3932 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake
There are many reasons to live on the Eastside, and easy access to Bar Stella is at the top of that list. This is (arguably) the best bar in the city. Sitting outside on a slow summer afternoon, sheltered by a canopy of bougainvillea, an Aperol spritz (easy on the Aperol, heavy on the spritz) on the table, is quickly becoming a quintessential LA activity. Inside, the scent of just-peeled citrus hits you hard, the white-jacketed mixologists are pros, almost-nonexistent lighting sets a seductive tone, and the walls are painted a pretty, mottled blush. Lounge on the low leather sofas drinking cocktails all afternoon. When evening hits, the volume turns up and the lights go even further down. The terrace outside—all wicker furniture and terra-cotta cushions—is straight off the French Riviera.
Employees Only
7953 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood 
In the continued migration west of all things New York comes the LA outpost of a beloved West Village cocktail bar. It's the perfect spot for a group and an ideal way to kick off a night of cocktail hopping. Cofounder Dushan Zaric has transformed a former BBQ restaurant into a space straight out of a Baz Luhrmann movie, with Art Deco touches, mahogany paneling, and textured wallpaper. Fans of the original will notice the neon “Psychic” sign in the window, and indeed, there are three psychics in residence each night, available for fifteen-minute readings. But really you come for the cocktails: There are the classics for which EO is best known, plus newbies like the Hope Monkey (Kaffir-lime-infused Gin Mare and absinthe bitters). Many of the new cocktails showcase locally sourced chamomile and sage syrup, and CBD oils in addition to fresh citrus juices. There’s also a full dinner menu, but the bar snacks are probably your best bet—bone marrow poppers, oysters, and fries are a good way to go.
Barbette
7511 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood
As the guys behind local staples like the Pikey and Jones, it’s clear that Jared Meisler and Sean McPherson know exactly what this particular slice of West Hollywood wants. In this case, it’s another dinner-into-late-night-drinks option that’s not, say, Gracias Madre. There’s a subtle French bistro undercurrent, but instead of sidewalk seating, there’s a back patio and the addition of a fireplace. The menu is reliable, which is what you want from the kind of neighborhood spot you might order from multiple times a week, with the usual crowd favorites like moules marinières, steak frites, and a simple but good tagliatelle. Photos: Rob Stark.
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