Meeting up for a drink is a common pastime in Los Angeles, where balmy weather and a plethora of bar choices give visitors and residents countless ways to kick back. Grab a beer from a cash-only, beachside watering hole, or savor a chamomile-infused scotch in an intimate speakeasy. No matter what kind of vibe you’re after, there’s a bar ready to shake, stir, or slide you your next drink. Here are the 12 best places to start.
The Rooftop by JG (Beverly Hills)
Enjoy cocktails in this al fresco setting with 360-degree views of Los Angeles, helmed by award-winning chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. A cinnamon-infused mezcal punch and passion fruit whiskey fizz are just a sampling of the delightful drinks to sip on while people-watching at this buzzing rooftop bar and restaurant. The garden-inspired decor includes shades of green and leafy motifs. A white shade trellis provides shade for diners, who can order a number of small plates, such as sashimi with spicy white ponzu, and mains that include a lobster burger with gruyere cheese and yuzu pickles.
Hinano Cafe (Venice Beach)
Los Angelenos have flocked to this beachside bar since it opened in 1962. The Venice icon is a no-frills spot that maintains its come-as-you-are vibe with a laidback clientele that enjoys the daily happy hour, free popcorn, and pool tables. This is the place to come when you want to keep it simple with wine and an ice cold beer—many brews are sourced in California. When hunger strikes, there’s a breakfast menu of comforting standbys, such as omelets, and for lunch, a line-up of burgers and sandwiches to choose from.
The Venue (Downtown)
The Venue is a one-stop shop for drinks, karaoke, and food in Koreatown. There’s an outdoor patio shaded with Italian cypresses and ficuses, plus 13 private karaoke rooms in the cavernous, underground space. Specialty cocktails include a chamomile-infused scotch with ginger beer called Rest Ya Throat, and a mezcal pineapple concoction called Find The Note. For dinner, shareable plates such as salmon tataki lettuce wraps and chicken wings serve as singing fuel.
Next Door Lounge (Hollywood)
Soak in old Hollywood glamor at Next Door Lounge, a speakeasy that offers small bites and cocktails to enjoy alongside a range of entertainment. On Fridays and Saturdays, you can dine, drink, and dance—a reservation includes a burlesque performance, live bands in selected rooms, and even a show to celebrate birthdays. Sip on a classic cocktails, such as palomas and whiskey sours as you enjoy a lively performance under a glittering chandelier.
LAVO Ristorante (West Hollywood)
LAVO debuted on the Sunset Strip this past spring from the TAO Hospitality Group and offers coastal Italian food in a clubby setting. The 250-seat restaurant features a fully retractable rooftop for daytime imbibing, and inside, a horseshoe-shaped bar, wrapped in copper and gold, serves up twists on classics such as negronis, gin tonics; when you’re in the mood to drink your dessert, try the Buona Notte, an espresso and vanilla-infused vodka and coffee liqueur concoction, topped with tiramisu dust.
Beaches WeHo (West Hollywood)
This hybrid LGBTQ+ restaurant and lounge is the place to come for a good cocktail in a space that pays homage to 80s Miami disco culture, complete with palm leaf walls and neon signs. Cocktails include the Drunk N’ Luv, made with watermelon vodka, lemon juice, and watermelon juice, and the Shady Beach, an Aperol and Champagne fusion. Check out weekly themed nights, such as #BaewatchFridays and happy hour bingo. The menu features delicious Californian and Cuban cuisine.
Bar Bandini (Echo Park)
Whether you’re a wine pro or simply want to explore beyond the typical Californian Chardonnay, Bar Bandini has plenty of varietals to satisfy your palate. People gather at this dimly lit Echo Park bar for its stellar natural wine list and beers on tap, sourced almost exclusively in-state. Enjoy small plates of local cheeses, Sicilian olives, and cured meats, which make excellent Gamay and Verdejo companions. Bonus points for the backyard patio.
Lilly Rose (Downtown)
This underground parlor in the Wayfarer Downtown Hotel offers a range of whimsical entertainment and drinks to enjoy. Opt for the “Lilly Rose Through the Looking Glass High Tea and High Balls” experience, which includes craft cocktails, inspired by tea infusions. The vibe at Lilly Rose, though, is anything but buttoned-up. Eccentricity is welcome here, and surfaces in the form of live magic acts and fantastical decor, which includes pig-shaped tables.
State Social House (West Hollywood)
Grab a drink at this faithful gastropub, serving up drinks, traditional American fare—burgers, crispy calamari, pizza—and a laid-back time. The relaxed space includes a ground-level bar, a second floor with live music, and a cigar lounge downstairs. The cocktail list consists of signature hits such as The Muse, a vodka, lime, agave, blueberry, and cherry liqueur libation, and The Presidential, which features gin, cilantro, chile, cucumber, lime, agave, and soda.
Mama Lion (Koreatown)
Head to this swanky three-in-one restaurant, bar, and lounge in Koreatown—a reboot of a 1970s nightclub and cabaret hotspot that once stood on Western Avenue. Chef Michael Hung of the now shuttered Faith & Flower helms the menu at Mama Lion, offering small plates that range from vegan calamari to shrimp tacos. On the cocktail menu, libations match the opulent, gold-accented interiors: The 24-karat XO, an upgraded old fashioned, includes a Cognac aged up to 30 years with a pure 24k sugar ice cube stirred in.
Petty Cash Taqueria & Bar (Beverly / Fairfax / La Brea / Third St.)
The casual and festive atmosphere at Petty Cash Taqueria perfectly complements its Mexican food offerings and drinks. Grab a habanero infused margarita when you want to kick things up a notch, and pair it alongside one of chef Walter Manzke’s battered fish tacos or vegetarian nachos. In the evening, you’ll find groups gathered at the picnic-style tables to catch up after work and gear up for the weekend.
Bar Jackalope (Downtown)
This hidden whiskey lounge in the back of Seven Grand bar provides mellow and moody vibes for a sexy night out. The 18-seat bar specializes in over 120 varieties of Japanese whisky, and there’s even an outdoor cigar lounge. The cocktail menu focuses on the classics; expect expertly prepared old fashioneds and manhattans. This is the place for an intimate drinking experience and a whisky crash-course—minus the crowds.
Tried them all? Check out other options here.