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An editor's guide to drinking around town

Los Angeles

Los Angeles has long been marketed as the birthplace of the Moscow Mule, so perhaps its fitting that there are hundreds of fantastic drinking establishments here willing to help you make an ass of yourself. Unfortunately, the urban sprawl means a self-guided crawl is a dicey situation, which is why local editor Jeff Miller is here with his picks for the top places to get your booze on.

Best Club: Clubland is fickle around here. By the time you're reading this, it could already be closed, but I was impressed when I was recently at The Emerson Theater, a glittery, gilded room that feels sufficiently majestic to justify the wallet-emptying cost of bottle service.

Best for Work: The Montage in Beverly Hills has a slightly-hidden bar called Ten Pound directly above Scarpetta. You should make a reservation first, but, once you're in, it feels like an old boys' club: huge leather couches, a massive Scotch menu (they're exclusively Macallan, with all the pricey, ancient, partner's-expense-account-ready blends that entails), and a private patio for making discreet calls.

Best for Partying: Hollywood's recently renovated Three Clubs is an old-school gem: a two-pronged bar with a classic-feeling LA lounge on one side, and a darkened dance floor room on the other where DJs push everything from oontz-tacular electronic jams to 90's hip-hop. It's a great place to party because it walks the line: you can dance your ass off with a cute girl, then actually seal the deal next door. Bonus: no (or very cheap) cover.

Best Drink: I'm a big fan of letting bartenders go nuts, and no one does it better than the guys at The Varnish, who -- through their booze-addled haze -- have somehow retained an encyclopedic knowledge of alcohol and how to mix it. The only problem is that it's different every time, and after you've had a couple it can be hard to remember what you drank and which one was better than the last.

Best Cocktail Bar: The Houston Brothers -- a pair of identical twins -- kind of have this category on lock. La Descarga is a rum-centric Cuban speakeasy with a cigar lounge; Harvard & Stone's rear R&D room's where barmen from all over the world head to get nuts; and Pour Vous has an extensive list of fresh, fruit-forward cocktails and, um, an actual train in the backyard, so they all tie for first, second, and third.

Best Beer Bar: Another tie! Both Blue Palms and The Surly Goat are manned by hops lovers who'll talk to you for hours about the difference between an IPA and a double IPA, if you'll let them. Bonus points to The Surly Goat, though, as last time I was there the TVs were screening Reservoir Dogs.

Best Wine Bar: Though their Hollywood location didn't make it (R.I.P.), the Westside is still lucky to call Bodega their own. Knowledgeable staff, heavy pours, and inexpensive options make this longtime favorite a, uh, longtime favorite.

Best Local Beer: I recently visited Angel City's now-open-to-the-public Downtown brewery and tried their Eureka! Wit out of the tap. It's simple, it's refreshing, and it has unusual complexity. They can definitely count me as a fan.

Best Brewery: No question on this one: Golden Road keeps blasting out winner after winner (their 16oz cans of smooth-drinking Hefeweizen are my favorite part of seeing a band at the Bootleg), and they've created a mini bar empire as well, as the owners are also the behind Tony's Darts Away in Burbank, and Mohawk Bend in Silverlake.

Most Local Place (aka Where Locals Hang Out): Every single neighborhood in LA has at least one stellar dive where you can find 63-year-old wizened barflies and recent college grads discussing the best route for avoiding police checkpoints. The Drawing Room, Tom Bergin's, The Backstage in Culver City, the Chimneysweep in the Valley -- I could go on. But I won't.

Best Place to Day Drink: I'm partial to the patio at El Coyote. They make a mean margarita, the tortilla chips and salsa duo never stop coming (insider tip: mix 'em together!) and they've got the perfect combo of shade and sun. That said, if you want something more unique than Cuervo and marg mix, the back patio at Eveleigh has wood tables, foliage on the walls, an odd birdcage in the back, and housemade cocktails on par with anything you'd find at a more dedicated cocktail bar.

Best Jukebox: Koreatown's HMS Bounty isn't just one of the best nautically-themed dive bars in LA -- it's also the only nautically-themed dive bar in LA. And it has a sick jukebox. Sinatra? Check. Obscure punk rock? Check? THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK? Yep.

Best Outdoor Spot: On a sunny day, there's nowhere I'd rather throw one or five back than Ray's & Stark at LACMA. Their bar snacks -- flatbreads, charcuterie, and more -- are top-notch, their modern-artsy chairs are equal parts pretentious and lounge-y, the drinks are proper and strong, and their live jazz on Fridays is actually, like, bee-pop-a-bop good (as opposed to "wanka-blllepabap" unlistenable).

Hottest Girls: If I can jump to the conclusion that you like college girls (safe conclusion), then Happy Ending in Hollywood, The Lab at USC, and either location of Busby's are sure bets for eye candy. If your tastes could be better described as "aspiring actresses", The Churchill will do juuuuuust fine.

Easiest Place to Get Laid: Head West, for sure. The Basement Tavern in Santa Monica has a ventilation problem, which means that all the girls in there are shedding clothing and inhibitions nightly, and Venice's well known cougar hangout James' Beach is an in-at-1:15, in-and-out-and- well, you get the idea, by 2:15.

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1. The Emerson Theatre 7080 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Winner of Hospitality Design's 2013 "Best Nightclub, Bar, or Lounge Design" award, this dual-bar, 8000sqft club has a '20s-style feel with plenty of energy and burlesque dancers as well, in case all the dancing and bars didn't do it for you.

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2. 10£ 225 N Canon, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Surprisingly not 50 Cent's much posher English cousin, 10£ is a tiny, balcony-adorned, wood-paneled ode to Macallan, serving up way-hard-to-find varietals like the Fine & Rare Vintage 1951, and 57yr-old Lalique.

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3. Three Clubs 1123 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Though you may remember it as the bar they go to in that movie where Vince Vaughn is skinny and cheats at NHL 94, Three Clubs also boasts a smoking patio w/ iron-embellished railings, and a bar stocked with only "unique" label booze, from which mixologist Joel Black has created a new menu featuring drinks like The Spicy One with basil, lime, jalapeno, agave & whiskey; and the Pepper Smash with whiskey, lemon, honey, basil, and bell pepper.

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4. The Varnish 118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

In the back of Cole's (behind an oak door marked only with a framed drawing of a cocktail), this tiny bar from the vaunted mixologist minds behind Manhattan's Milk & Honey and Little Branch delivers handcrafted cocktails.

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5. La Descarga 1159 Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029

From a former Doheny barman and the guys behind Piano Bar, La Descarga's a painstakingly-designed, secret-entrance'd, two-story ode to pre-Fidel Havana, complete with a weathered ceiling/walls, a felt-banquetted, dark-lit boudoir, bathrooms festooned with reprints of old, Cuban newspaper articles, and a bar made of white carrera marble, which gets significantly less dirty than Asia Carrera marble.

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6. Harvard & Stone 5221 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

From the dudes behind the Havana-themed hideaway La Descarga, H & S's a meticulously designed crafty cocktail bar in the form of a cavernous, two-story, multi-roomed '30s-era factory.

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7. Pour Vous 5574 Melrose, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Pour Vous is a swanky, velvet couch-laden cocktail bar reminiscent of old Hollywood.

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8. Blue Palms Brewhouse 6124 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

This space affixed to the Fonda is a glorious beer lounge, boasting 24 craft drafts from Portland's hoppy "Hair Of The Dog" to Belgium's "Duchesse de Bourgogne", plus a comfort food menu including filets and ruben sandwiches.

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9. The Surly Goat 7929 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

The Surly Goat's a dark-lit two-tiered, rare-and-unusual-leaning beer bar decorated with all sorts of old brewhouse paraphernalia (everything from WWII-era ads in German to PBR one-sheets).

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10. Angel City Brewery 216 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Angel City Brewery brings the art of craft beer to Downtown Los Angeles. Among their roster of brews is a Belgian ale called Eureka! Wit. And with a name like that, it has to be good.

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11. Golden Road Gastropub 5430 San Fernando Rd, Los Angeles, CA 91203

Golden Road Gastropub's a classically interior'd (exposed brick, Edison bulbs, etc.) brewbar from the Mohawk Bend/Tony's Darts Away dude, and is attached to their brewery, which is so damn monstrous, blue-skinned Howie Mandel and Fred Savage are probably subletting all the staircases in it right now.

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12. Tom Bergin's 840 S Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Tom Bergin's is one of the city's most beloved bars, and perhaps the most legit Irish Pub on the planet (outside of Ireland, of course) what with being the inventors of the Irish Coffee. That'll serve as a nice pick-me-up when you're watching the World Cup at weird hours starting on Jun 12th, surrounded by people who actually know something about the World Cup.

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13. El Coyote 7312 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Underneath the ambience-enhancing Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling, you’ll find all the comforting usual suspects -- fajitas, nachos, and enchiladas -- along with the occasional wild card, like OSTRICH tacos (!) and, um, burgers. On Tequila Tuesdays, they offer at-the-bar tastings and dollar-off 'ritas, ensuring that you can essentially already call Wednesday a bust.

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14. Eveleigh 8752 W Sunset, Hollywood, CA 90028

This barn-esque bistro's got a reclaimed wood-laden indoor/outdoor dining room with a communal table and sofa-like seating, plus a garden laced with for-the-restaurant ingredients ranging from strawberries to bay leaves.

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15. The HMS Bounty 3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010

This may come as a surprise, but the HMS Bounty is a nautically themed British-style pub (go figure). Pull a stool up next to a local and have a chat on a weekday or join a busier crowd on the weekend. Either way, this dimly-lit hole in the wall in Koreatown is a hidden gem for a laid-back night and an inexpensive drink.

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16. Ray's & Stark Bar 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

This all-outdoor drinkery has set up shop at LACMA and features Med-influenced eats from the District dude.

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17. Happy Ending 7038 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

The boozy dream of a group of people including former Mint chef Matthew Gladstone, this massive ode to gratification rests upon the three pillars of bar awesomeness: a great happy hour, an ambitious menu, and flatscreens -- 30 of 'em.

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18. The Lab 3500 S Figueroa, Los Angeles, CA 90007

The Lab's a Galen Center-adjacent beery gastropub decked out like a science classroom, with industrial lighting, black-slate-topped common tables, a white-tile bar, textbook-filled bookshelves, and plush professorial leather chairs, all run by USC Hospitality, who recently started opening off-campus restaurants in a bold effort to get alumni and foodies to visit the 'hood.

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19. Busby's East 5364 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Busby's East may have the most comprehensive checklist of "stuff a sports bar should have" you've ever seen. Every television sports package and 40 flat screens? Check. Extensive food and drink menus? Check. Free bar games, arcade games and board games? Check. Live bands, DJs and a lively nightclub scene? Check. Checkmate, Busby's East.

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20. The Churchill 8384 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Because... awesome, Churchill's hired a pinup-girl-esque SoHo House/Harvard & Stone drank-slanger to update their menu. Her sippers include the reposado/ Aperol/ amaro/ mescal "Thirsty In LA"; and the pisco/ pineapple/ egg whites/ bitters/ cinnamon "Grapes of Wrath", which no doubt will help you through your next Great Depression.

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21. Basement Tavern 2640 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

Remember when you'd sneak drinks with your buddies down to your parents' basement and nervously slugged them while listening for footsteps above? This place ain't that. Come for their one-of-a-kind cocktails and happy hour (with discount food) and stay for the live bands that rock the foundation the rest of the evening.

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22. James' Beach 60 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

James' Beach is famous for being famous. In one instance, that refers to their "Modern American Comfort Food" (especially the mahi mahi tacos). In another, it's because their vibrant bar scene has been featured in various films and television shows. But in the end, it's the whole package that makes James' Beach a top spot in Venice.

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23. Bodega Wine Bar 260 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101

Whether you're new to the vino scene or a veteran cork popper, you'll likely enjoy Bodega Wine Bar. They have a knowledgeable staff and plenty of options for any budget. If boozy grape juice isn't your forte, they also have a full selection of beer, cold sake and soju cocktails.

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