The Best Bars in Los Angeles to Grab a Drink Right Now
A new country-western rooftop, a Havana-inspired bar, Inglewood’s first wine bar, and more.
Masks down, bottoms up! Drinking in bars just became a little less complicated since LA recently lifted its indoor mask mandate. With the Omicron variant now in the rearview mirror and no variants on the horizon (knock on wood!), our local bar industry is more than ready to accept patrons again, with numerous recently opened spots, spanning scenic rooftop oases, lively sports bars, and hidden speakeasy joints. Be prepared to show your vaccination card alongside ID at the door, but surely you’re used to that by now.
For the next time you’re craving a night out on the town, bookmark this list, which includes a country-rock rooftop destination in Hollywood, South LA wine bar, a cozy Havana-inspired haunt, and much more.
Landing in a tri-level space along Cahuenga Blvd in Hollywood’s emerging Vinyl District, Grandmasters Recorders is many things—the former recording studio of artists like Stevie Wonder and David Bowie, one of the best Italian restaurants in town, and as it turns out, a great option for al fresco rooftop cocktails. Choose between the glimmering, disco-ball-backed 71 Studio Bar on the first floor, an expansive second level with high ceilings and climbing trees, and the aforementioned rooftop with a stunning view of the Hollywood Hills, before sipping on craft cocktails like Snakes and Ladders (pisco, aperol, aquavit, raspberries, egg white, lemon, and bitters). The rooftop also features a separate menu with Italian bites, cocktails on tap, and rooftop spritzes. For those who prefer wine, Grandmasters boasts a collection of over 2,000 wine bottles on its property, favoring Italian labels, with Wine Director Devon D’Arcangelo always eager to offer a recommendation.
How to book: online.
Desert 5 Spot
Gracing the rooftop of the newly opened tommie Hollywood hotel is this Pioneertown-meets-Palm Springs, neo-retro spot with jewel-toned vintage furniture and wood paneling on the interior, plus a wraparound patio that offers 360-degree views of the Hollywood Hills. It’s one of your best bets for country western or country rock music in LA, with live bands playing every weekend. And because Desert 5 Spot is in the heart of Hollywood, you’re just as likely to see clubbers in minidresses and stilettos as you are cowboys in Stetsons—making it a prime destination for people-watching. On the beverage side, you’ll see additional nods to country music hits, like Ring of Fire with Bruxo mezcal, prickly pear, lemon, and ginger, and Jolene, a captivating cocktail with El Tesoro tequila, watermelon, strawberry, agave, and lime. There’s also the option to “Make it a Cactus,” or order the bar’s famous Margarita in a cactus-shaped cooler that serves between six and eight people.
How to book: Walk-ins only.
Inglewood’s first and only wine bar is owned by sisters Leslie and Leann Jones, two lifelong Inglewood residents who wanted to offer a convenient and upscale nightlife option so that locals aren’t forced to leave the neighborhood when they want a night out. They serve the largest collection of Black-owned wine labels in California, along with elevated bar bites and a few entree choices like Kobe Beef Sliders and risotto with Creole-style shrimp. Every Wednesday they host Wine Down Wednesdays with live music and wine specials, and on Sundays they serve brunch from 11 am–2 pm with bottomless mimosas and a live DJ.
How to book: Walk-ins accepted, but reservations are encouraged and can be made online.
LA has had a dearth of bar-hopping areas for a while now, but that might be changing along a small section of Virgil Ave where cozy, Havana-inspired Bolita has landed not far from worthy watering holes like Melody and The Virgil. The owners are also behind Cuban favorites El Cochinito and Cafe Tropical, so you know they know their stuff. Pull up to the narrow bar with a tiled mirror backing and order up craft cocktails like Cheat Day Daiquiri with rum, brown butter, banana, lime, dulce de leche, and nutmeg, though there’s also a nice selection of beers and wines by the glass, plus a zero-proof cocktail list (and they’ll happily make any of their cocktails NA by request). A small menu of bar bites is available, including Bar Pie from Cafe Tropical. Stop by during happy hour from 5-7pm, which includes Tierra Madre Lager for $4, wines or a Daiquiri for $8, and a Bocadito sandwich for just $4.
How to book: Walk-ins only.
Homebound Brew Haus
Taking over the space that formerly housed Imperial Western Beer Co. and Harvey House, this Bavarian-style brew house debuted over the holidays with an expanded beer garden, offering over 400 seats across the entire space. Many of the original, art-deco details have been preserved, including gorgeous tile flooring and intricate wallpapers. Don’t be fooled by the gorgeous interior though, this is one of the best options for knocking back a beer or watching live sports in Downtown, with plenty of TVs and a projector. There’s also shuffleboard and pool tables to keep you occupied. For drinks, they’ve got 12 brews on tap, ranging from a Superba West Coast IPA to Hefeweizen and an Apricot Sour. For those that prefer something a bit stronger, there’s also a classic cocktail menu. Tuck into a menu of burgers, sammies, and brats when hunger strikes.
How to book: Walk-ins only.
LA has no shortage of hotspots and Uncool, a new burger bar in a West Hollywood strip mall, eschews the category altogether, transforming a former taqueria into a hidden neighborhood tavern with high-quality comfort food and craft cocktails. There are only a couple handfuls of seats across the wooden bar, railing, and on the patio out front, which helps keep the vibes more lowkey than the rest of the gayborhood. The cocktail menu features cheeky items like So Old Fashioned, So Uncool with rye, hickory-smoked cherry bitters, and simple syrup, plus wines, beers, and boozy snow cones. However, do come hungry so you can enjoy a menu of smashburgers, sandwiches, and wings, with plenty of vegan options.
How to book: Walk-ins only.
The High Low
To return to our former point about LA’s lack of bar-hopping arenas, we’re thrilled that the High Low Bar, taking over the space that was formerly home to The Griffin, is open within walking distance of other neighborhood faves like Bigfoot Lodge, the Roost, and The Morrison, as well as Tam O’Shanter, for those who want to preface their drinking with a fancy Scottish steak dinner. With arched brick ceilings, stone columns, and moody lighting, the tavern feel remains firmly intact, with pool tables for the late-night sharks plus TVs. The bar program offers some of the most affordable drinks in town—just $8 well drinks, or $6 during daily happy hour, and $12 for classic cocktails like Old Fashioneds and Margaritas. The food draws from Tex-Mex inspiration, including puffy tacos, nachos, queso, and burgers.
How to book: Walk-ins only.
Oracle Tavern and Coffee
Formerly known as ÖR, Oracle Tavern has already shown itself to be so much more than a bar, operating as a coffee shop during the day and often hosting indie release parties, live comedy, and film screenings to support local creative communities. It’s also become the recent home of the monthly queer party “Gay Asstrology” (celebrate Pisces season with them on Friday, March 4). The decor reflects a homegrown ethos with comfy, mismatched furniture and kitschy decorations, including a framed portrait of a pensive Yoda that hangs behind the interior stage. There’s also plenty of patio space for those who still prefer to imbibe outside. Stop by for a daily happy hour from 4–6 pm and you’ll likely be treated to some kind of live performance if you stick around long enough.
Melanie’s Wine Bar
Blink and you might miss this cozy wine bar that’s tucked along a popular stretch of West 3rd Street. But there are several reasons why this 30-seat restaurant deserves your attention. For one, it’s open seven days a week and makes an ideal Monday date spot. Secondly, practically the entire wine list is available by the bottle or the glass, inviting you to explore labels that span nearby Paso Robles to France and even as far as Tasmania, Australia. Finally, the French- and Italian-inspired menu is short and to the point, but changes often so you’ll always find something new to pair your wine with. Recent menu items include Duck Prosciutto offered as a charcuterie selection and Salt Spring Mussels with Vadouvan curry, heirloom tomatoes, and garlic breadcrumbs.
Grain Whiskey Bar
Hidden away in the corner of Top Chef winner Brooke Williamson and husband Nick Roberts’ Playa Provisions restaurant is the newly reopened Grain Whiskey Bar, helmed by bar manager, Liam Odien. The speakeasy-inspired spot features an extensive list of more than 100 domestic and international whiskeys, with the option to build-your-own flights to get acquainted with different brands (tequila and rum flights are also available). The bar menu includes “true cocktails” and “Grain cocktails,” with the former list offering classic drinks that showcase specific spirits and the latter boasting signature creations like The O.G., with Smooth Ambler Old Scout Bourbon, Angostura orange bitters, and sugar. For food, Williamson has crafted a menu of bar bites and larger plates like Fried Duck Wings with truffle honey and Spiced Lamb Sugarcane Skewers.
The Spare Room
While we applaud Marc Rose and Med Abrous’ idea to keep the Spare Room’s spirit alive by giving us The Spare Room… Somewhere Else, an al fresco experience with the same killer cocktails, plus bocce ball and other lawn games, we couldn’t be more thrilled that the original Spare Room, a hybrid cocktail lounge and gaming parlor with music and vintage bowling lanes, is back open at the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt. The bar program, which was recognized at the 'Best American Hotel Bar' by the Spirited Awards, is helmed by new bar director Tess Anne Sawyer, and includes signature cocktails like Tannic at the Disco with Grey Goose La Poire, Cointreau, white cranberry, lime, and a Lambrusco float.
How to book: Call 323-769-7296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is LA turning into a walkable city? While that might be a stretch of the imagination, this rooftop bar is an easy stumbling distance from Desert 5 Spot, another recent addition to Hollywood’s emerging Vinyl District—and both are situated on hotel rooftops in case you want to extend your stay. Blending the sophistication of the French Riviera with a laid-back LA attitude, Bar Lis offers a cocktail list and small plates menu that borrows 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. 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.
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 is reopened with a seasonal selection of cocktails, including Bimini Place, a riff on a French 75 with Bimini Gin, AMASS Vodka, guava, and pomegranate. In honor of Women’s History Month, the bar has a new cocktail menu featuring women-owned spirits and mixers, with many of the drinks named after the women who are most important to the owners.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome. Order cocktails to-go or from Genever’s food partners online.
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, and Chicken Tinga Bao Buns as starters; an array of taco options; and buñuelos and tres leches cake for dessert. Stop by on a Tuesday and take advantage of their Taco Tuesday deal that offers three tacos, a beer, and a shot for just $25.
How to book: Online. Walk-ins accepted if space is available.
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.
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 only.
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 evening nibbling on charcuterie and sipping from a global selection of wines that favors small, family-run producers—though there are also worthwhile mains like a King Cole Farms Seared Duck Breast with warm German potato salad and braised red cabbage. 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.
How to book: Online.
Embracing the cheese of West Hollywood (get it?) is this Tex-Mex spot in the heart of the Sunset Strip. Come hungry to enjoy dishes 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.
How to book: Online.
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 popups.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome for patio dining; order pickup via Toast Tab.
The cocktail program at this sunny Venice spot pays homage to Mexican spirits, including lesser-known sotol, bacanora, and raicilla, in addition to 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.
How to book: Online.
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 online.
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 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, in addition to 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.
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.
How to book: Make dining reservations via Yelp; takeout and delivery online.
Located at the intersection of Historic Filipinotown, Echo Park, and DTLA, Thunderbolt is the perfect in-the-middle-meeting spot. Favorite drinks 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.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, but reservations via Tock are encouraged.