Food & Drink

43 Los Angeles Bars You Need to Drink in Before You Die

Jeff Miller Published On 09/15/2015 Published On 09/15/2015
La Descarga

Really you should drink in every LA bar before you die, but for the sake of your liver/the length of this story, we've whittled the bucket list down to these 43 absolute musts.

The Abbey

The Abbey

West Hollywood
It's one of the most famous gay bars in the world and -- no matter your sexual preference -- it plies you with great drinks, an ultra-friendly staff, and one of the best patios in LA, with plush seating areas that start as day-drinking hubs and end as sloppy nighttime spots. Often a few hours later.

Flickr/SookieBonTemps

Alex's Bar

Long Beach
Is there anywhere else in LA where punk-rock history and excellent craft cocktails collide in a bar that looks like a From Dusk Till Dawn bordello? No, no there is not.

Flickr/Juan Monroy

Angel City Brewery

Downtown
You're gonna want to drink at this local brewery at least once (and at most, way, way, way more than that) because if you don't, you'll never know what you're missing out on: one-day-only special beers? Craft fairs? Music festivals? It changes every day.

Blue Palms Brewing

Blue Palms

Hollywood
Welcome to mecca for LA beer geeks -- there's not a more knowledgeable hop-staff in town. Nope, not even there. No dude, not there either.

Flickr/Jared Eberhardt

Cafe Brass Monkey

Koreatown
At some point, you need to stumble in here, sing a Bon Jovi song with 10 Korean businessmen pouring soju down your throat when you hit the pinnacle of "Livin' on a Prayer," and immediately forget it ever happened.

Flickr/Duncan C

Chez Jay

Santa Monica
From a strictly historical perspective, Chez Jay has to be on here; Santa Monica's gone through so much development in the last decade that it's something approaching a miracle that this legendary bar/"steakhouse" from the '50s is still there, right by the pier, doing what it's been doing since your grandparents were there -- doling out heavy pours and massive steaks, steps from the ocean.

Flickr/Amy Dozier

The Daily Pint

Santa Monica
Nowhere else in LA is the great-beer-to-great-whiskey-to-friendly-staff-to-pool-to-arcade-game ratio this high. Nowhere.
 

Drawing Room

Los Feliz
Because every Angeleno needs to drink at 6am while '70s soul blares in the background at least once. And this is the place where that can happen.

Flickr/Karen

The Echo

Echo Park
If indie rock had an official home base, it would look a lot like The Echo: no real signage on the outside, a big, dark room on the inside, and bands like Vampire Weekend and St. Vincent playing tiny local shows before they break out. If you want some sort of "I'm-still-cool" bragging rights (which, don't lie, you do), you'll grab at least one beer here. Just to say you did it.

Flickr/Jason Brown

The Edison

Downtown
This cavernous underground bar in an old power plant was one of the first to really make craft cocktails a thing in LA. Nearly every alcohol surgeon in town got their start here before moving on to... well, tons of the bars on this list. But the room is still absolutely stunning; its glamour is only helped by one of the strictest dress codes in the city, which makes every night out there (even if it's, like, only one ever) feel like an event.

Flickr/Nan Palmero

The Escondite

Downtown
Extra bonus points for Skid Row-adjacent grittiness.

Flickr/Floyd B. Bariscle

Frolic Room

Hollywood
If you live in Hollywood and don't hit a dive bar, you're not really *living* in Hollywood -- and when the Powerhouse closed last year and reopened with a fresh ingredient-driven cocktail menu, it left this divey-divey-DIVEY dive as arguably the last one in that part of town, and has the cast of characters to prove it.

Golden Road Brewing

Golden Road Brewing

Glendale-ish
You'll play Jenga, drink rare beers, hang out on the patio, and wonder how the afternoon became 1am all of a sudden.

Dustin Downing/Thrillist

Good Times at Davey Wayne's

Hollywood
The fact that it has best secret entrance in town is enough to get it on this list. But it also has alcoholic sno cones. And '70s cover bands. And furniture from your parents' house.

Flickr/Daremoshirani

Hinano Cafe

Venice
Is there a better 1:30am burger/beer/picking-up-the-last-call-leftovers bar on the Westside? No. There is not.
 

HMS Bounty

Koreatown
Why is there an old-school nautically themed bar right in the center of the city nowhere near a beach? You'll have to go to find out.
 

The Hotel Cafe

Hollywood
Neither a hotel nor a cafe, this beloved, mostly acoustic music venue is notable not just for the parade of stars who have made their way through the intimate hall over the years (Adele! Mumford & Sons!! John Mayer!... ?) but the lobby bar as well, which serves as both a dimly lit waiting room for the performance space to clear out between acts and a meet-and-greet area for fans who want to throw one (or two! or three!!) down with a potential next big thing.

Jumbos Clown Room

Jumbo's Clown Room

Thai Town
Look at that photo above. Seriously, do you need to ask why you need to go to this place?
 

King Eddy Saloon

Downtown
At some point, you'll be stumbling Downtown and be like "Won't somewhere just give me a cheap shot and a beer instead of this mixology bullshit?" And then you'll find King Eddy and you'll be like "oh... this place will."
 

La Descarga

East Hollywood
There's a salsa show, and a cigar lounge, and a secret entrance, and you'll feel like you've been transported to Havana, but right outside the door's not just one, but TWO amazing taco trucks. You win.

Jeff Mller/Thrillist

Moe's Tavern

Universal City
Everyone has to have a Duff at least once in their life. That's just a fact.

Flickr/Arturo Sotillo

The Musso and Frank Grill

Hollywood
I mean, the bartender is the VERY SAME DUDE who used to serve martinis to Sinatra. Ask him for a cocktail. And stories. He has tons of both.

Flickr/Steven Kreuzer

Rainbow Bar & Grill

West Hollywood
One day, you're gonna want to drink like Mötley Crüe, but you're not gonna want to do it anywhere else on the strip, because, uh, duh. But the Rainbow? The Rainbow still works. Just ask Lemmy from Motörhead, who will inevitably be sitting in a corner holding court.

Brian Sussman/Thrillist

Ray's & Stark Bar

Mid-Wilshire
One of the great pleasures of living in LA is the ability to drink outside nearly year-round. One of the great pleasures of drinking outside nearly year-round is doing it at this patio bar at LACMA, in a too-deep recliner, while a jazz band is playing and you're looking at the iconic lights out front.

Flickr/PDXDJ

Saddle Ranch

West Hollywood
This notorious transplant bar is not really a "you gotta drink there before you die" place, but more of a "you're inevitably going to drink here and ride the mechanical bull and not remember it before you die" place.
 

Sam's Hofbrau

Downtown
This is LA's sleaziest strip club. Also there is no cover. Also it has $3 beers. Also it shows sports. Also you should go. Once. (Or twice.)
 

Sardo's

Burbank
Tuesday is Porn Star Karaoke at this Valley dive bar, which is exactly what it sounds like, and is something you literally can't do anywhere else. In related news, it's unclear if anyone has ever been there on a day other than Tuesday.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Sassafras

Hollywood
Um. They deconstructed a Savannah townhouse and REBUILT THE DAMN THING INSIDE THE BAR to make it feel like you're in the South. Also, the bottled drinks are delicious.

Flickr/Zagat Buzz

Seven Grand

Downtown
Take a chance on a whiskey or three you've never had -- the bartenders here breathe it and the selection is extraordinary. If you're feeling especially lush, make an attempted entrance to the secret Bar Jackalope in back -- that's where they're hiding the Japanese stuff.

Skybar

Skybar

West Hollywood
You'll go here once 'cause, well, you need a selfie here. And even though the years of Lindsay Lohan appearing randomly in it have passed, that's totally OK.

Jeff Miller/Thrillist

Smog Cutter

Silver Lake
It's the shittiest best karaoke bar you've ever been in. Promise.
 

The Spare Room

Hollywood
Most bowling alley bars serve watered-down Budweiser and your bowling neighbor is some guy named Earl. Wouldn't it be nice if once in your life you went to a bowling alley bar where they served fresh-ingredient cocktails, had custom-made board games for when you were taking a break, and your bowling alley neighbor was a model named Natasha? Yes, once in your life, that would be VERY good. And it's possible here.

Flickr/Tarsten Titleback

The Standard Downtown

Downtown
You're gonna come once for the view -- and then you're gonna stay for the DJs, the beds you can drink in, and the pool you can drink in.
 

The Stave

Long Beach
Patient zero of the LBC's bar scene? Right here, in a world-class whiskey bar -- right in the heart of what could be considered LA's second city.

Surly Goat

The Surly Goat

West Hollywood
There's no beer bar in town that gets geek culture as much as The Surly Goat (the owner of which has gone on to open other brew-heavy enterprises like Little Bear and Der Wolfskopf), which was doing pours of hard-to-find and local craft beers before nearly anyone else in town -- which now means it's got the inside scoop to limited releases and tap takeovers year-round.
 

Ten Pound

Beverly Hills
One day, you're gonna get a baller bonus, and on that day you should call up the Montage in Beverly Hills, ask to go to its hidden bar Ten Pound, take the stairs up over Scarpetta, sit on its porch, and drink a crazy-old pour of Macallan.

Flickr/Sam Howzit

Tiki-Ti

Silver Lake
Strong Tiki drinks. Crazy chotchkies. In-bar chanting. You want to go to this party. Bad.

Flickr/Eliot Philips

Tom Bergin's

Mid-City
Shamrocks and Irish coffee. Done.
 

Tony's Darts Away

Burbank
An upscale dive bar? Yep, and it's in the Valley, where a lot of the off-Ventura bars are cookie cutter. This one, though, has both dartboards and great beers, plus next-level sausages.

Flickr/Harry Heng

Troubadour

West Hollywood
John Lennon drank there. The Eagles drank there. The Red Hot Chili Peppers drank there. And you will need to drink here -- probably while packed into the back bar, watching a band that will be playing The Forum a year from now.

Tyler O'Steen

The Upstairs at the Ace Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown
Heading upstairs at the Ace feels like a special event, due to the bar's impeccable view of the city, impeccable drinks, and the impeccable feeling that you are somewhere very, very special (the ability to take an Instagram of the "Jesus Saves" sign from above doesn't hurt, either).

Flickr/Kenn Wilson

The Varnish

Downtown
More than any other, this bar has brought LA into the national cocktail conversation: the drinks here are always top-top-top level, served in a room that feels appropriately both adult and wild, especially on Sunday nights, when Naughty Niki sings -- and flirts -- for everyone in attendance.
 

Venice Ale House

Venice
There are plenty of places to sit by the beach with a beer. There are not plenty of places to sit DIRECTLY ON THE VENICE BOARDWALK WITH A SUPER-GOOD BEER AND FOOD. Venice Ale House is one.

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1. The Abbey Food & Bar 692 N Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

What makes West Hollywood's The Abbey one of the country's most popular gay bars? Four bars, lots of go-go dancers, and a quarter century of queer tomfoolery that has attracted luminaries like Elton John and Elizabeth Taylor. By day, the haunt acts as pub-style restaurant that's popular for brunch, but by night it's all flashing lights, drag queen throw-downs, and gyrating bulges in neon speedos. The space is ally-friendly, and while more straight tourists and bachelorette gaggles search it out now, it remains a part of rainbow history in the area.

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2. Alex's Bar 2913 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA 90804 (Long Beach)

Opened in 2000, this Long Beach drinkery is a perfect divey spot to drop by for a game of pool, some quality tunes, and cheap drinks.

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3. Angel City Brewery 216 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

Located in the historic John A. Roebling warehouse in the Arts District, Angel City Brewery has become a leader in the craft beer scene, selling its top-notch brews throughout California, Nevada, and, of course, in-house at the brewery with a rotating selection on tap. Its signature beers range from staples like the Angel City IPA and Pilsner to gems from the warehouse collection like the Peach Berliner Weisse to limited-time brews like a Salted Caramel Gose. You can toss 'em back in the art deco space or in one of the numerous restaurants and bars at which they're sold.

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4. Blue Palms Brewhouse 6124 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

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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5. Cafe Brass Monkey 3440 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, 90010

Scouts honor, you will get funky. You'll karaoke your heart out in the company of Korean businessmen who haven't slept in three days, drink soju till you can't remember what sobriety is, and stumble out asking who's down to go again next week.

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6. Chez Jay 1657 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (Santa Monica)

Chez Jay is a great lounge/steakhouse/place to get some deliciously salty peanuts with a strong libation.

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7. The Daily Pint 2310 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 (Santa Monica)

This SM dive has surprisingly impressive whiskey flights, craft beers, and SHUFFLE BOARD!!

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8. The Drawing Room 1800 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (Los Feliz)

There are only a handful of bars actually open right when it's legal to serve at 6am, and most of them are dives, but none of them are as gloriously divey as this Los Feliz institution, where you're guaranteed to get super-strong drinks and ultra-charming characters.

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9. The Echo 1822 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Echo Park)

The Echo is located in Downtown Echo Park and celebrates music in its broadband form of genres, particularly on new and upcoming artists. Catch your favorite un-signed act there before they go global.

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10. Edison Depression Soup Kitchen 108 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Downtown)

This 1920s-style speakeasy's offering a timely Depression-era deal: cheekily named 35c drinks (the ginny 401k and the bourbon-laced Bail Out), plus free grilled cheese and tomato soup.

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11. The Escondite 410 Boyd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

A dark-lit, off the beaten path, neighborhood dive bar with daily live music and an amazing burger menu.

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12. Frolic Room 6245 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028-5310 (Hollywood)

Rumored to be an uber-exclusive speakeasy lounge opened by a dude allegedly named “Freddy Frolic”, this dive bar officially opened to the public in ’34. A Charles Bukowski favorite and possibly the last stop for the ill-fated Elizabeth Short (aka the Black Dahlia), the art deco neon and vested bartenders continue to welcome fans of small dark dives, cheap pours, and strange murals that feature caricatured celebrities.

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13. Golden Road Brewing 5410 W San Fernando Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90039 (Glendale)

Golden Road is the perfect place for anyone who loves drinking while playing games, because they've got giant Jenga, ping pong, and more, plus tons of outdoor seats, and some of LA's best local beer that's brewed right there. Enjoy a pint with some of the venue's delectable globally-inspired pub fare.

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14. Good Times at Davey Wayne's 1611 N El Centro Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

Straight out of The Brady Bunch set, this 70's living room-themed Hollywood bar is decked out with hammocks, an Airstream Trailer, and a DJ spinning Bee Gees-esque beats. It's hard to tell what's cooler -- the epic secret entrance through a refrigerator door, or the no-cover. Weekend nights usually draw the biggest lines, but Good Times is open on weekend afternoons, aka the perfect time to kick back on the patio and order up some Tex-Mex street food and craft cocktails.

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15. Hinano Cafe 15 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292 (Venice)

Open since 1969, Hinano Cafe was reportedly Jim Morrison's favorite bar in Venice. Claim to fame aside, the uber-casual, beachside mainstay has great beer and an even better burger, served on a sesame-studded egg bun with standard toppings (lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo, mustard, and relish) and add-ons like cheddar, Swiss, chili, and bacon. The bar slightly resembles a tiki hut from the outside, but the interior is a typical dive scene with a pool table and TVs.

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16. The HMS Bounty 3357 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (Koreatown)

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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17. The Hotel Cafe 1623 1/2 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, 90038

A live music venue with one of the most misleading names in town, this beloved destination for acoustic audiophiles has played a role in the early careers of Adele, Mumford & Sons, and John Mayer, to name a few.

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18. The King Eddy Saloon 131 E 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

The surly old geezer of LA bars, this Skid Row-adjacent stalwart first opened as the tavern for the still-operating King Edward Hotel and managed to get a court order to keep pesky street preachers of the day from scaring off would-be boozehounds. Since officially reopening in ’33, The King Eddy Saloon has famously poured heavy for Bukowski, Burroughs, and other literary liquor lovers, and remains a solid cavernous dive for losing a few hours.

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

From a former Doheny barman and the guys behind Piano Bar, La Descarga is a painstakingly-designed, two-story ode to pre-Fidel Havana, complete with a secret entrance, weathered ceiling/walls, a felt banquette, bathrooms festooned with reprints of old, Cuban newspaper articles, and a bar made of white Carrera marble.

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20. Springfield USA 100 Universal City Plz, Universal City, CA 91608

Universal Studios opened up a living, breathing re-creation of Springfield, which means after grabbing a Duff or two at Moe's Tavern (yup) you can meander over to Krusty Burger.

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21. Musso & Frank Grill 6667 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

This old-school steakhouse has been frequented by the who's-who of Hollywood for years. When a restaurant that doubles as a historical landmark employs bartenders who’ve worked there longer than you’ve been alive, this is a true Hollywood staple. The steakhouse, right in the heart of the most touristy section of arguably the most touristy city in the world, has been virtually unchanged since the days when the Rat Pack spent their off-time there, dining on prime rib and sipping martinis.

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22. Rainbow Bar & Grill 9015 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, 90069

Lounge contentedly in your booth knowing that members of Motley Crue and Motorhead have chowed down on that very Italian cooking and sipped on that very beer. In fact, they might even be there in person, but it's up to you if you're willing to share your 'za.

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23. Ray's & Stark Bar 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

Located at LACMA, this swanky bar and restaurant takes museum dining to new levels with an upscale American menu, killer cocktails, and an expansive outdoor patio. Expect wood-fired pizzas, plenty of veggie plates, and classic entrees like a burger with caramelized onions and grilled fish. The Stark Bar has an impressive spirit selection sourced from across the world, and the craft cocktails taste just right at happy hour.

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24. Saddle Ranch Chop House 8371 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West La)

Boasting large rib-eye steaks and a mechanical bull, Saddle Ranch is no doubt a legit steakhouse. Oh yeah, and they have huge stacks of cotton candy. Don't ask questions, just eat it.

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25. Sam's Hofbrau 1751 E Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90021 (Downtown)

Located in Downtown LA, Sam's is a must-stop if you're looking to keep the night going.

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26. Sardo's 259 N Pass Ave, Burbank, CA 91505

This Burbank grill and lounge is the perfect spot to sport your pipes and belt out a tune for a spirited night of karaoke. They feature more than 20,000 songs ranging across many different genres, not to mention cheap drinks and free parking.

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27. Sassafras Saloon 1233 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (Hollywood)

Sassafras is a cocktail bar located in Hollywood and steeped in a little thing called tradition and a Southern hospitality feel. Barrel aging cocktails is a process that has been used since the 1880s and this modern saloon believes, as you will too, that the results speak for themselves. Get ready for swing time!

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28. Seven Grand 515 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

This stylish spot has hipstery hunting lodge decor to match its massive whiskey selection. Vintage and contemporary recipes are featured on the cocktail menu and only freshly squeezed juices and house-infused syrups are used. Cigars and pool tables contribute to the man-cave vibe of this place.

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29. Mondrian Los Angeles 8440 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

In the middle of West Hollywood, Mondrian LA is a glitzy boutique hotel right on the Sunset Strip. Skybar, the rooftop lounge, features a patio and full-size pool perfect for daytime lounging and nighttime DJ-fueled parties. The hotel is also home to Ivory On Sunset, a luxe Californian restaurant open for all-day dining and cocktails.

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30. Smog Cutter 864 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029 (Hollywood)

Smog Cutter is a Hollywood dive/karaoke bar that's got awesome music, lively bartenders, and an even-livelier crowd.

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31. Spare Room 7000 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028 (Hollywood)

The Roosevelt Hotel is famous for being haunted, but now it's ready to be your regular haunt thanks to Spare Room. This sleek cocktail lounge/bowling alley stepped up its drink game with the addition of award-winning beverage director Yael Vengroff, who's crafting a menu full of welcome surprises, including a Salt & Vinegar Martini (served with dill potato chips), and a pandan leaf-adorned Lucky Smoke, mixed with Japanese whiskey, rum, banana liqueur, and vanilla.

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32. The Standard, Downtown LA 550 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071 (Downtown)

There are places to see and be seen in Los Angeles, and The Standard DTLA will always be one of them. Located in a 12-story mid-century building, the Andre Balazs hotel features a 24-hour restaurant, a Ping Pong club, and a rooftop with a beer garden (complete with Pilsners, pretzels, and bratwurst) and a heated pool. As if that weren't enough, there's also a fire pit lounge for speciality cocktails and an outpost of Hermanos Coffee in the lobby.

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33. The Stave 170 The Promenade North, Long Beach, CA 90802 (Long Beach)

This swank whiskery-erie is doling out some seriously impressive 'tails, as well as great craft brew flights.

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34. The Surly Goat 7929 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046 (West Hollywood)

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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35. 10£ 225 N Canon, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 (Beverly Hills)

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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36. Tiki-Ti 4427 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 (Los Feliz)

Tiki-Ti is a great dive/cocktail bar doling out island-inspired libations and eats.

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37. Tom Bergin's 840 S Fairfax, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Mid Wilshire)

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. Head here for a classy, relaxing, and authentic Irish experience.

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38. Tony's Darts Away 710 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506 (East Valley)

Because sometimes it’s Friday night, and all you really want is to go somewhere with a to-die-for sausage menu and a beer list that runs deep. If that weren’t enough, Tony’s also serves up some of the best vegan options of any of the restaurants on this list -- including (but not limited to) Becky’s Bad Ass Buffalo Potatoes. Do yourself a favor and order those.

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39. The Troubadour 9081 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (West Hollywood)

The Troubadour is a prime live music venue that's intimate and has great acoustics.

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40. Upstairs Rooftop Lounge at Ace Hotel 933 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015 (Downtown)

The only thing hipper than the Ace Hotel DTLA is its rooftop lounge, aptly named The Upstairs Bar. Though the roof boasts a pool and lounge chairs, the emphasis isn't really on swimming -- probably because the concrete pool is small enough to be a hot tub. But you're not there for poolside cabanas, you're there for the impeccable drinks and daily event lineup, which includes everything from DJ sets and live concerts to book release parties and yoga classes. Add in stunning city views, and you've got an unquestionable classic in the rooftop game.

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41. The Varnish 118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014 (Downtown)

In the back of Cole's -- specifically behind an oak door that's marked with a framed picture of a cocktail -- is The Varnish, a tiny bar from the vaunted mixologists behind New York's Milk & Honey and Little Branch. The bar is an intimate, Prohibition-era hideaway with cozy wooden booths, soft jazz playing in the background, and expertly-made top-shelf cocktails. Order the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, or go off-menu and let the bartender make you something unexpected.

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42. Venice Ale House 2 Rose Ave, Venice, CA 90291 (Venice)

Venice Ale House is a wood-heavy, organics-driven neighborhood gastropub, decorated w/ arted-up skate decks and bikes, from a duo composed of the restaurateur behind Bar Hayama and a documentary maker/fishmonger -- so either way, he's working on the doc(k)s.

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