photo credit: Jidenna at Death & Co., John Marquez
Welcome to Perfect For, an Infatuation series of ultra-specific restaurant and bar recommendations from people around town you don't know personally, but might wish you did. Today, Jidenna shares five of his favorite LA cocktail bars.
Bright and airy wine bars are great and all, but sometimes, the night calls for something a bit… moodier. Somewhere you can tuck into a booth, maybe even a velvet one, and sip a spirit-forward cocktail made by someone in a silky vest. The lighting? So dim you’ll mistake the subterranean speakeasy for a sensory deprivation tank.
If you’re the classic man behind “Classic Man,” that’s often the case. When singer/rapper Jidenna isn’t on the road or casually fixing drinks for friends like Diddy and Janelle Monae, he’s sipping a complicated cocktail in a comfortable booth. Here are five of his favorite bars in LA.
“When I moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn years ago, I was looking for bars from New York, because I knew that I could trust them. That’s like the blue check—if you were in New York and expanded to Los Angeles. I love how dim it is. LA is pretty bright, and I love that they kept that NYC feeling. I’ve closed deals here, and I’ve had great dates and conversations here. I also love the bouncer—he’s a cool-ass dude.
I don’t have a go-to here yet, because they have a lot of drinks. It all depends on what mood you’re in. I’ve had the TV Party, the Island Export from the Light and Playful list, and The Mr. Mojo Rising. That’s a rye with some rum and peach. They’re all spirit-forward. The Elegant and Timeless section of the menu is crazy. I’ve had the Stratocastor and the Liquid Proof.”
“They helped me refine my initial aesthetic when I lived in New York. This spot and shows like Boardwalk Empire and Peaky Blinders. I was a young broke artist with a little bit of money to spend on one drink. I handed [“Classic Man” producer] Nana Kwabena an envelope of cash to work on my project in Apotheke out of my blazer, like I’m Nucky Thompson or Chalky White. I said, ‘Look, this is what I got for you. I know your time is delicate and I would love for you to work with me.’”
“I learned about Adults Only from Janelle Monae. There were a few bars she went to when she first started coming to LA regularly, and that was one of them. It has this illegal, taboo element. There’s great nostalgia for millennials. It reminds you of that Blockbuster Video era—like, you know, the ‘90s. In our crew, once you know a cool spot that nobody knows in LA, that’s where we go. Everywhere else is played.”
“Black Rabbit Rose was a Google search, bro. When I went there, I took my lady and the way the lighting shined in her eye? I’ll never forget the look. Again, the decor. It comes down to that sometimes for me. And now I go back there with her. I haven’t done any business deals there yet.”
“A good friend of mine recommended Lilly Rose. He said, ‘There's a bar downtown, and I think you’ll like the aesthetic.’ I loved it. It’s in the basement, and I love subterranean spots. The drinks are solid. There’s a Zoltar machine. He’s there! I still have his prophecy in my wallet. I spent five minutes admiring it.”