Too often, when an iconic institution undergoes renovation, the original excellence is destroyed, as evidenced by "the new" Trader Vics, and Surf Ninjas 3. Dodging that bullet: Bar NINETEEN12, opening tonight in the Beverly Hills Hotel
Named after the year of the hotel's inception, Bar NINETEEN12's an ode to Sam Spade's Los Angeles, spruced with just enough modernity that you won't worry you somehow mis-directed the Professor's DeLorean. Inside you'll find expansive leather couches and a mahogany bar stocking everything from gimmicky cocktail-popsicles to a $625-a-shot, 121 year-old Johnny Walker Blue -- the very hooch an impossibly well-off Bogart would've stashed in the drawer of his gold desk. NINETEEN12's also got bottle service, with a throwback manservant twist: order and they wheel over a full service tableside minibar, less the $18 tins of "Smokey Almonds". To compensate, the appetizer menu's stocked with tasties like Calabrese and Fontina Pizza and Black and White Sesame Crusted Ahi, served as rare as Raymond Chandler's fleeting moments of sobriety.
For a breather, pick a cigar from their table-service humidor and step onto the spacious, table-strewn balcony -- overlooking the palm tree'd pool you'll see evidence of original excellence's further defilement, as a waiter casually drops his screenplay for Surf Ninjas 4.