Where to Grab a Drink in Los Angeles Right Now
Masks down, bottoms up.
Two steps forward, one step back. That’s what the last 17 months have felt like. Just after LA bars were given the clear to reopen, new Delta and Delta Plus variants began spreading, forcing another indoor mask mandate. Thankfully, our bars are now experts at pulling off last-minute pivots and quickly came up with a solution that would allow them to remain open, without compromising the safety or health of their staff or patrons. Many now require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test for entry, with more bars and restaurants adopting these requirements every day. So make sure you have your vaccine card handy, or better yet, ditch the card and register for a convenient digital vaccine record, so you don’t risk being turned away.
These pandemic-related hurdles make the resilience demonstrated by our beverage industry all the more notable and worthy of celebrating with an in-person clink or two. Shockingly, new bars have actually opened in the last year, with others reopening with completely new cocktail menus, interiors, and outdoor patios. Here are 21 of the best bars around town to raise a glass in right now:
Blending the sophistication of the French Riviera with a laid-back LA attitude, Bar Lis sits atop Hollywood’s brand-new Thompson Hotel, with a cocktail list and small plates menu that also borrow inspiration from the European seaside. Make sure you stop by before sunset so you can take in unobstructed views of the Hollywood Hills, including the Hollywood sign, as the sun takes its final bow. Sip on refreshing cocktails like Strawberry Fields with Belvedere Vodka, St.Germain, strawberry, mint, rhubarb, and prosecco, or take things up a notch with the Petit Paloma with Patron Silver Tequila, chai-infused rum, grapefruit, lime, soda, and flower petal salt. Balance out your drink tab with bites that include Kusshi oysters in a rosé Champagne mignonette sauce, herbed fries, ham croquettes, and hamachi crudo. After dark, Bar Lis comes alive with DJ sets, and the bar’s retractable roof makes the space a year-round destination.
How to book: via Sevenrooms.
First launched in 2010, the original Las Perlas location in DTLA served as a living tribute to Mexican spirits like mezcal and tequila long before the trend went nationwide. Now they’ve got a new mezcaleria in West Hollywood that’s open until 2 am seven days a week for those who want to party like it’s the Before Times. They’ve also got a weekday happy hour from 5-8 pm that includes $1 off beers, $2 off well tequila and mezcal, and $3 off house cocktails, plus live music on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 10 pm–1 am. Newly debuted drinks include Como Conejos, with Dahlia tequila, pineapple liqueur, Frenet, and lime, served over crushed ice. Find woman-backed Moderno Cocina whipping up fresh TJ-style tacos and taquitos on the back patio every night from 5 pm–1 am.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.
Another acclaimed mezcaleria, Bar Caló just reopened with a brand new Mexican-inspired drink menu, with standouts like the Corny Joke, with Oaxacan black corn whiskey, Nixta, piloncillo, chocolate mole bitters, and Warbringer mist, though you’ll also find plenty of mezcal and tequila-based cocktails on order, as well as a short list of Mexican wines. They’ve also got a small food menu with guac and chips, hard shell tacos, street elote fritters, and other bar bites. For mezcal purists, the bar also has an in-depth agave list that delves into the types of agaves used by different brands, as well as their place of origin, ABV, distillation method, and the name of each distiller.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.
This women-owned gin bar got creative during the pandemic, offering their signature cocktails to go as well as a monthly subscription club that included curated gin flights, a rotating meal from one of their food sponsors, and bottled cocktails—and those memberships are still available for those who aren’t quite ready to cozy up in the bar’s moody velvet lounge. But for those who are, Genever just reopened for in-person service, though they’ve continued pandemic-born offerings like “It Takes a Village 2.0,” a series where they spotlight different food pop-ups from people of color and allow each partner’s food to be pre-ordered with to-go cocktails, or enjoyed in person on their back patio. Known for their housemade infusions, Genever encourages customers to bring surplus produce from their gardens in exchange for a discount on the check—citrus and herbs are especially sought-after.
This women-owned canned wine company blew up during the pandemic thanks to their low-calorie/carb and no-sugar wines. They recently opened their first tasting room at their Venice headquarters, appropriately dubbed their Rosé Garden, with colorful picnic tables, large umbrellas, and astroturf making it an ideal spot for day drinking by the beach (the garden closes at sunset). So far, Bev offers sauvignon blanc, rosé, pinot grigio, and just released a pinot noir. In celebration of their new taproom opening, the brand is hosting a Sweat & Sip summer yoga series in their garden every Saturday and Sunday, with a complimentary first round for those who attend (21+).
How to book: Walk-ins welcome. Book a yoga class here.
Fusing Mexican ingredients with Japanese influence from the surrounding Sawtelle neighborhood, Hermanito comes complete with a covered patio and quaint, string-lit alleyway, plus a wood-paneled interior where you can enjoy cocktails that favor mezcal and tequila spirits. Opt for La Mala Vida, which combines both spirits with black walnut bitters and sea salt for an agave take on an Old Fashioned. For something more refreshing, try the Myra with jalapeno- and cucumber-infused mezcal, fresh watermelon, and a Tajin rim. On the food side, they’ve got guac and chips, avocado fries, an umi tostada, and chicken tinga bao buns as starters, or go big with mains like a five-spice duck a la plancha with coloradito molé, grilled green onions, and handmade flour tortillas. If you happen to stop by on a Tuesday, their Taco Tuesday deal that offers three tacos, a beer, and a shot for just $20 is a must-order.
All Season Brewing
Taking over the historic, mid-century modern Firestone building at the corner of La Brea and 8th, All Seasons Brewing has an extensive list of beers brewed onsite in their glass-encased 15-barrel brewhouse, with a focus on classic, American styles like pilsners, Hazy IPAs, West Coast IPAs, and a few malt-centric lagers. Open until midnight Sunday–Thursday and until 2 am on the weekends, it’s easy to lose track of time exploring the brewery’s expansive grounds, which include a wraparound patio overlooking La Brea, a back patio with picnic tables, and a spacious, open-air interior with a vintage-style bar backed by large windows that offer a view of the brewhouse, plus skeeball games and a photobooth. Food is provided by Chicas Tacos, which offers a variety of meaty and plant-based options including a jackfruit taco, dirty fries (think nachos except toppings come on fries instead of tortilla chips), wings, and a breakfast burrito that’s only available on the weekends. All Seasons Brewing positions itself as a bar before a brewery, meaning they’ve got a full list of cocktails and draft wines available in addition to beers.
How to book: Walk-ins only.
Landing on the rooftop of Culver City’s newest food hall Citizen Public Market is this vintage-inspired bar that plays off the building’s historic past with exposed brick details, vaulted ceilings, arched windows, and leather bar seats in the interior, plus cascading shade coverings and verdant plant walls on their rooftop patio that overlooks downtown Culver City. Beverage director AC Baker (Simonette and Tao Group) has composed a program of California wines, local beers, and inspired craft cocktails, like Moonchild made with Monkey Shoulder scotch, lemon, banana-ginger, orange honey, and walnut bitters. Should you need some food to pad your stomach, there are plenty of options within the market, including Jolly Oyster and Nancy Silverton’s Pizzette.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.
Wife and the Somm
After a successful run with their farm-to-table, wine pairing dinner catering business Homesomm, husband and wife Chris Lucchese and Christine Lindgren took their concept one step further with a brick-and-mortar wine bar and shop. With climbing ivy across the entryway, the bistro is easy to miss, which only adds to its charm and further establishes it as a much-needed neighborhood shop where you’ll be easily convinced to spend an afternoon nibbling on charcuterie and sipping from a global selection of wines that favors small, family-run producers. The interior sports a cozy, holiday-inspired palette with plush burgundy banquettes against forest green walls and dark wood accents, plus an indoor olive tree that stretches towards a ceiling skylight. The patio is equally charming for those who still prefer open-air drinking and dining.
Better-for-you brews like hard kombucha and hard seltzer have soared in popularity over the past year, with several brands investing in brick-and-mortars across Southern California. JuneShine represents part of this wave, first launching in San Diego before making its way up the coast to sunny Santa Monica. Their newest outpost reflects the surfer culture it comes from, with a bright, bleached wood palette and a raised outdoor deck along Main St. The brews clock in at about 6% ABV and encompass flavors like Chili Mango, Blood Orange Mint, Iced Tea Lemonade, and Kumquat Vanilla, with bites that include a charcuterie board, empanadas, vegan pizza, and caprese.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.
Yes, the name is cringe-worthy, but we promise it’s worth overlooking for a menu of Tex-Mex favorites, including newly debuted items like a BBQ brisket sandwich featuring house-smoked brisket, fried onion strings, kaylin + kaylin horseradish, pickles, and bbq sauce on a King’s Hawaiian bun. On the beverage side, there’s JQ’s Ranch Water, with Tosco Silver tequila, lime, Topo Chico, and a Tajin salt rim, plus a few margarita options, a build-your-own Bloody Mary kit, and plenty of tequila and mezcal-spiked options. Feel like doing it Texas-style and going big? Try one of the Texas Two Steps: JQ Tex Mex Lager with a shot of tequila or mezcal, or for dark liquor fans, Shiner Bock lager with a shot of Balcones Texas bourbon or Jameson. Happy hour runs on weekdays from 3-6 pm, with $4 tacos, $5 house tequila shots, and $6 margaritas on offer.
First debuted in late 2017 as a Cal-fresh wine bistro, Melody’s open-air, bungalow-style patio reopened less than a year later as a standalone wine bar and bottle shop, opting to host restaurant pop-ups rather than have a dedicated kitchen. The natural wine bar specializes in low intervention wines from around the world with special attention given to French, Italian and Spanish grapes. Check their Instagram for their latest rotating restaurant partnerships and weekend popups.
Aptly-named Nueva replaced the now-shuttered Sunny Spot in front of The Little Friend bar last August, adding it to the growing list of successful mid-pandemic openings. The cocktail program pays homage to Mexican-based liquors, including lesser-known sotol, bacanora, and raicilla spirits, in addition to standard mezcal and tequila options—order the agave flight and get treated to a half-pour of their current favorites served with orange slices and fried chapulines (grasshoppers). Chefs Vartan Abgaryan and Mesraim Llanez helm a modern Mexican menu with highlights that include Mediterranean octopus tacos with pickled red onion, plum, and mint; a Street Cart Salad with mango, pineapple, and jicama; and wood-grilled Branzino with red mole sauce.
New York’s favorite East Village bar Employees Only took the trip out west in 2018, revamping the almost 4,000-square foot former BBQ joint into a Prohibition-style speakeasy frequented by your favorite CW stars. While those dreams got temporarily dashed with the pandemic, Employees Only bounced back by turning their back patio into an experiential pop-up dubbed the Summer Social Club that features the same heavy-handed cocktails with locally sourced ingredients, plus a rotating list of local chefs to keep the food menu fresh. That’s still ongoing, but as of July, the restaurant’s interior is also open with new drinks and bites on their menu, including a crisp Kiwi Cooler with Cazadores tequila, kiwi, lemongrass, Caribbean botanicals, and dehydrated lemon and lemongrass peels.
Situated on the rooftop of the Hoxton hotel, Pilot’s bar and restaurant extends to the hotel’s pool deck, with sweeping views of the DTLA skyline. The coastal Mediterranean menu pairs perfectly with the rooftop’s beachy palette and cocktails like the Hachi Machi with rum, cachaca (a fermented sugar cane-based spirit that’s popular in Brazil), pineapple, banana liqueur, lime, and cinnamon. Pilot also offers the ability to place your drink and food orders and pay your tab as you go directly through your phone to limit contact with your servers and help keep everyone safe.
Flying Embers Social Club and Brewery
Bragging better-for-you booze that’s fermented to leave zero sugar and zero carbs, Flying Embers hard seltzers and kombuchas are offered with low and high ABV that ranges from 4.5% up to 8.5% with flavor combinations like Clementine Hibiscus, Pineapple Cayenne, and Mango Hop-Anero. They also serve “booch-tails,” or low-ABV craft cocktails with fresh fruit juices and house-made infusions that substitute spirits with the brand’s kombuchas and seltzers. The spacious DTLA taproom is pet-friendly with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, a huge flatscreen TV that’s often playing live sports, and on Thursday–Sunday, Westside Banh Mi food truck is parked out front should your stomach start rumbling.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome or make a reservation via Resy.
Margot’s open-air 75-seat patio rooftop on Culver City’s Platform shopping center is one of the best you’ll find on the Westside, with 360-degree views of the city and numerous heat lamps to help you fend off that evening chill. The decor is a very Culver City-appropriate blend of bohemian and industrial, with a huge floral mural, marble surfaces, and raw wood tables, plus huge floor-to-ceiling windows and hanging lanterns in an interior space that offers similar views. Margot is perfect for a date night or celebration, with a house cocktail list that favors herbal and floral infusions—like the Lakers-inspired Black Mamba with mezcal, yellow chartreuse, blackberry, habanero, and lemon— plus regional wines that pair perfectly with the restaurant’s coastal Mediterranean fare. Margot also has the very LA option of requesting separate vegan brunch and vegan dinner menus so your plant-based friends don’t have to screen each item for animal products.
Hidden away at the eastern end of York Blvd is Holcomb, the neighborhood’s new favorite natural wine bar, with plenty of $10 glasses, plus craft beers to choose from for the hops-oriented crowd. Open seven days a week, the wine bar has a cozy interior with coral walls and sea-green banquette seating, but they also have a small covered patio and sidewalk seating for those who prefer an open-air experience. For food, they’ve got charcuterie, a mezze plate, tuna and steak tartare, a pork rillette sandwich, and a dessert biscuit.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome.
Portuguese Bend Distilling
Named after the infamous Portuguese Bend area of Palos Verdes that once served as the hotbed of California’s underground alcohol activity in the Prohibition Era, Long Beach’s first distillery specializes in grain-to-grass gins, rums, and vodkas, with their pink-hued California-made Donna Rosa gin being the most popular spirit. Sample their creations in craft cocktails like the tiki-inspired Hey Bei Bei, with Portuguese Bend Queens Passage spiced rum
Ming River Sichuan Baijiu, Hamilton rum, Giffard orgeat, plantain puree, pineapple juice, lime juice, and Bittermens 'Elemakule Tiki Bitters—the cocktail even comes in a panda-shaped mug that requires a refundable deposit upon ordering. The food menu features hefty, comfort-driven plates, and their weekday happy hour from 3–6 pm is a great opportunity to try house drinks for just $8 and craft cocktails for $10. While distillery tours are currently on pause, the spacious wraparound patio remains open, as is indoor dining.
NYC’s favorite apothecary-inspired bar made the trip out west in 2018, landing in an unassuming corner of Chinatown adjacent to the LA River, with a lush patio garden that mixologists frequently pick from for their own housemade infusions. And while we’re happy to order their creative concoctions to-go, we’re thrilled that they’ve reopened their patio to reservations Thursday–Sunday. Order from their botanical-infused menu based on what ails you, with each drink categorized according to its supposed benefit of Health & Beauty, Aphrodisiacs, Stimulants, Pain Killers, and Stress Relievers. On the Aphrodisiac menu, Majik Moment, a refreshing blend of gin, aquavit, granny smith apple, jicama, Blue Majik, rosemary, lime, orgeat, and club soda, comes dashed with a house-made “Libido” bitters.
Located at the intersection of Historic Filipinotown, Echo Park, and DTLA, Thunderbolt is the perfect in-the-middle-meeting spot. Drink favorites include the Peach Thunderbolt with Jamaican And Agricole rums, peach, and mint, that’s adapted from Charles H. Baker’s Around The World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask, and the Tropipop, a carbonated and canned mix of rum, coconut, pineapple, and lactose for when you need a piña colada on the go, but the bar also has wine, beer, and cider by the glass. Thunderbolt’s interior features a forest green and rust palette, with comfortable leather couches, long communal tables, high top tables, and an L-shaped, marble-specked bar with stools, plus sidewalk seating and a patio. The food menu features Southern-inspired favorites like Momma Leah’s tamari-glazed lollipop drumettes, and 32-month dry-cured Country Ham with seasonal fruit and buttermilk biscuits.