The allure of day drinking is strong. For starters, it breaks up the monotony of the weekend (or weekday, go off sis). Secondly, you don't have to wait until its completely dark outside to show off a cute outfit. Most importantly though, day drinking allows you to have fun but still be back home in pajamas sipping Sleepytime tea by 8pm. Here are LA's best spots to drink while the sun is out.
The Infatuation LA Guide To Summer 2022
photo credit: Marie Buck
Benny Boy Brewing
Equal parts brewery, cider house, and beer garden, Benny Boy is the perfect place to wear a crisp white tee and jeans and feel like the best version of your summer self. This new Lincoln Heights spot does it all: there’s a giant patio filled with wooden benches and tree stumps that feels like a grown-up overnight camp, pop-ups like La Prieta Mexicana and Big Lou’s BBQ operate most nights, and, of course, the beer is flowing. Expect IPAs, ice-cold Mexican lagers, bold farmhouse ales brewed with basil, and more. The space is 21+, but infants in strollers or carriages are welcome.
Spending an afternoon at Tower Bar sipping martinis and watching the celebrity-laden crowd slowly devolve into chaos is an LA rite of passage. Even on quiet days, this classic Sunset Strip spot still promises stressed-out managers sobbing in the corner, the Olsen twins sucking the youth out of anyone who gets too close, and every agent west of Century City throwing their burner phones into the pool out of pure spite and rage. End your power lunch with a build-your-own sundae to sweeten the experience even more.
Most people head to Weho’s Santa Monica Blvd. with the full intention of bar-hopping all day, but if you’re looking for a steady jumping off point, go to Hi Tops. The high-school-themed space is big and open, with a sunny front patio ideal for standing around and waiting for that cute person to make the first move. The craft cocktails are also quite good, so instead of your usual $17 vodka soda, go for the mezcal-heavy Magic Hour, or The Claw, which is made with gin and cardamom bitters.
photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee
When it comes to rooftop bars, Hollywood is in the midst of a renaissance. Of all the new options, Grandmaster Records is the best for drinking while the sun is out. The sprawling two-story restaurant on Cahuenga has a little bit of everything—a sleek dining room, an indoor cocktail bar, and a live music venue with its own dance floor—but the roof is where the daytime festivities happen. Open Saturday and Sundays starting at noon, the large space has a wrap-around bar, plenty of shaded seating, and a solid cocktail menu with an entire section dedicated to spritzes.
Located inside a former car service station on La Brea, All Season Brewing’s cavernous space has both indoor and outdoor seating, a row of skee-ball machines in the back, and a Chica’s Taco window for when you need to soak up some of the alcohol. Most people here are drinking beer (we love tropical Figure 8 Hazy DIPA), but there are tasty cocktails (including some on draft), and $5 well shots as well.
If all bars were more like Resident, the world would be a better place—or at least an easier place to drink in. That might be high praise, but it doesn’t take long to understand what this Arts District bar gets right. For one, it’s almost entirely outdoors (there's an excellent live music/dance venue inside). Second, the outside bar is located in an Airstream and the cocktails and beer list are fantastic. Third and most importantly, the whole place feels like you’re hanging out in someone’s cool city backyard. The atmosphere is fun and laid back, and there are even water misters to keep you cool on scorching days.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Spoke Bicycle Cafe
Spoke Bicycle is part cafe, part bicycle repair shop, and the most Eastside place that’s ever existed. Nobody should come here expecting to rip shots and wild out on the dance floor. You come to Spoke to sit around with your friends and discuss that documentary on fracking you just watched, eat a fantastic veggie burger, and drink lots of wine and beer. Afterwards, rent a bike and take a ride down the LA River bike path. Spoke is currently open Wednesday through Sunday, 9am-5pm, with "Spoke Nights" featuring local beer and pop-ups running Thursday through Sunday evenings.
The Venice Boardwalk isn’t generally a place we advise people to go drink, but The Waterfront is the exception. The neighborhood bar/cafe has actually been around since the mid-90s, but underwent a big renovation a few years ago that includes a brand new patio, an updated food menu, and of course, plenty of decorative surfboards. The weekend crowd is definitely filled with more tech bros then a Snapchat singles mixer, but this is Venice—it just comes with the territory.
Sure, you can find Ballast Point beers in every grocery store in California, but no one at this Long Beach taproom is here because they’re on a quest for rare brews. They want to enjoy the airy, two-story space with 360-degree views of the marina and the Pacific Ocean. On weekends, the Billabong-enthusiast crowd definitely becomes a bit much, but the good news is that this place is so big, you’re always able to find an empty corner away from the chaos.
Big Dean’s has been in operation since the 1970’s and is a flat-out Santa Monica institution. Situated right on the boardwalk below the pier, its touristy location might not inspire much confidence, but Big Dean’s always seems to attract a perfect mix of locals, out-of-towners, and laid-back people who just want to drink by the ocean all day. Try to snag a table on the back patio, and don’t leave without ordering one of the most underrated burger on the Westside.
On Saturdays and Sundays, this rooftop bar at the Freehand Hotel becomes a full-on mob scene, but maybe that’s exactly the kind of afternoon you’re looking for. The colorful patio has strong cocktails, a solid snacks menu, and a great view of Downtown. You can only get in the pool if you’re staying at the hotel, but let’s be honest, your spray tan isn’t dry enough for that anyway.
Cha Cha Chicken is a tiny Caribbean jerk shack a block from the beach in Santa Monica. While it’s a great place for a quick post-beach lunch, it would be a huge mistake not to take advantage of their BYOB policy. Roll in with as much beer or wine as you’d like (no hard liquor), order some coconut fried chicken and dirty rice, and lounge around in their rainforest-like patio until the Sunday scaries take their toll.
Come Friday and Saturday night, Idle Hour is one of the most popular places to drink in the Valley. But if crowds and standing on your toes to get the bartender’s attention aren’t things you feel like dealing with, go during the day for a far more relaxed experience. Expect half the crowds, a big back patio with a giant bulldog statue smoking a pipe, and a Southern-ish brunch menu that’s exactly what your hangover needs.
Highland Park Brewery has been an LA favorite for a while now, and their second location in Chinatown is the kind of space where you’ll want to sit and hang out all day. It’s located across the street from the LA State Historic Park, so their front patio feels downright serene, and the big industrial interior can handle any size of group you roll in with. Their bar snacks menu is also handy (get the wings or cheese fries) for when the inevitable wave of hunger hits.
Anyone who says they don’t like playing cornhole on a sunny afternoon is lying to themselves. El Tejano is a massive Texas-themed bar in North Hollywood, and while their Tex-Mex food leaves a lot to be desired, there are very few places in the Valley where we’d rather get a little rowdy on a Saturday afternoon. There are two different bars (one inside and one on the back patio), well-shaded areas to sit and relax, a beer pong table, and of course, some glorious cornhole.
If you want to day drink like a professional, you go to Red Lion. This German beer garden in Silver Lake is a classic, so come pay your respects on their kitschy back patio with multiple steins of beer and probably, at some point, a sausage platter.
Block Party is in the middle of all the action on Highland Park’s York Blvd., and while the front bar area is always a good time, you’re here for that massive back patio. There are long wooden tables ideal for any group, cruiseship-sized shuffleboard courts, and tons of interesting house cocktails. There's no kitchen here, but you're allowed to order-in any outside food you want.
High Rooftop Bar at Hotel Erwin
Santa Monica has no shortage of hotel rooftops overlooking the ocean, but the majority of them are simply not fun. Hotel Erwin is different. Come early enough in the day and you’ll experience great views, a fairly mellow atmosphere, and excellent Bloody Marys. Just know this place can become a bit of a bro-apocalypse as the night wears on.
Serving as The Roosevelt Hotel’s pool bar, Tropicana is a pretty close approximation of a long weekend in Palm Springs. Here you’ll find well-dressed people, strong drinks, and never-ending pool action in a setting that feels like a sexy 1960’s Burt Reynolds night soap. The cocktails can get pricey, but that's Hollywood, kid.
For some people in LA, day drinking means throwing cocktails back with friends and then getting a little weird on the beach. The harsh reality is there are very few places where you can actually accomplish that unless your old weed guy sublets in Venice now. And that’s why The Whaler is so essential. The two-story bar right on the boardwalk has solid food, cheap drinks, and a fun crowd that doesn’t fear a slightly sloppy afternoon.