The Best Cocktail Bars In Los Angeles

16 spots for seriously good drinks.
The Best Cocktail Bars In Los Angeles image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

LA knows its way around a great cocktail. We've got classic tiki joints, moody speakeasies, and more over-the-top, wildly inventive bars than we know what to do with. And luckily for anyone who shares our distaste of watered-down vodka sodas, we've compiled this guide to destination bars where the cocktails taste as delicious as they look. Head to these 15 spots when you want to drink in style, no matter the occasion.


photo credit: Marie Buck


Echo Park

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsBirthdaysDate NightDrinking Good CocktailsFirst/Early in the Game Dates
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It’s hard to match a bar like Thunderbolt. Located on the edge of Echo Park and Historic Filipinotown, this low-lit lounge is a cocktail nerd destination and a casual neighborhood hangout rolled into one. The bartenders do a lot of pre-batching, which guarantees every drink is consistent. It also eliminates anyone tossing shakers and doing backhand pours for clout. Instead, you’ll find inventive but deceptively simple drinks, like the rosemary tomato gin martini or the rum sour with shochu and bittermelon. Our move is to order a frozen painkiller with some snacks (get the cajun fries) and relax on the bar’s leather couches while old-school Jay-Z plays at a confident house party volume.

Located in a small building off Figueroa in Highland Park that can only be accessed through a back alley, Good Housekeeping reads like another high-concept speakeasy bar you were tired of two years ago. It’s just the opposite. Inside you’ll find a warm, tiny room filled with comfy banquettes, a casual crowd comprised mostly of locals, and tremendous cocktails. We particularly love the Constant Gardener, a mezcal and amaro drink dosed with mole bitters and oregano.

Capri Club is one of the best examples of a true aperitivo bar. This vermouth-driven gathering place inspired by Italian happy hour fills up well before the sun sets and stays packed until it closes around midnight. And while we love the retro, leather banquette-filled interior, the front sidewalk at this Eagle Rock spot is undeniably where you want to be (particularly in a pair of designer jeans) when sampling amaro spritzes and nibbling on tuna-stuffed peppers. This walk-in-only spot thrives on style and chaos, but that’s exactly why we love it as a fun pit stop to start or end the night.

No one would consider Mar Vista a tentpole of LA nightlife, but this residential neighborhood is home to our favorite cocktail spot on the Westside. Accomplice is the kind of place you walk into for a quick drink after work and end up staying for three hours because the bartender is explaining the nuances of Japanese whiskey and whipping together unique cocktails that make use of anything from hot mustard to seaweed-infused vodka. Plus, if you get hungry, you can order food from Little Fatty, the Taiwanese spot next door.

This is a laid-back neighborhood bar on the Sunset Strip. Yes, you read that correctly. Bar Next Door looks straight out of a 1970s crime drama, with diner-style booths, fluorescent lights, and a wraparound bar where you could picture Lt. Columbo smoking a cigar. There's always a good mix of coworkers rolling up their sleeves over cocktails and solo drinkers making chit-chat, adding a buzz to the small space that never gets too hectic. The cocktails are fantastic, too, even if they have cheesy LA-themed names. The Olive Drive tastes like a sweet, floral vesper, and the Viper Room is a pisco sour kicked up with serrano chile heat and tart passion fruit.

Just above Donna’s and Lowboy, Bar Flores resembles a treehouse filled with really good mezcal. This Echo Park bar is for people who don't want to stay home and drink in an actual living room, but still want to spend time together. The compact cocktail menu has a nice balance of classics and creative originals, like a lemongrass-tinged daiquiri infused with pandan—the kind of stuff you order on a first date to impress someone with your “I just Googled this” knowledge of rare spirits. If it’s sunny, grab a bistro table on the brick patio surrounded by blooming bougainvillea bushes—there’s no better place to sip a cocktail outdoors in the neighborhood.

The Roger Room is hidden off to the side of the Largo in Weho, but it's not really a secret. This retro-themed cocktail spot gets packed after 9pm, and it's rowdy in the best way possible. Comedians and their entourage squeeze into red leather booths as vested bartenders make elaborate drinks with stenciled designs and stylish garnishes. There's an entire absinthe menu if you care to partake, but we can't help but find that gimmicky (no one here is hallucinating green fairies). The Flim Flam is our drink of choice, with dry gin, a bitter punch from Cynar, and a sweet Luxardo cherry.

The main purpose of this Beverly Hills rooftop bar is looking fabulous while drinking fabulous things with fabulous people in a truly fabulous setting (did we say fabulous enough?). The sister bar to Dante NYC takes up the top floor of the Maybourne hotel, with a dining room that’s just as beautiful as its panoramic views. But if you’re wondering whether this bar’s success hinges on its use of stylish half-moon couches, it doesn’t. Their bartenders are experts with classics like 50/50 martinis and whipped garibaldi, but they’ll make you anything you ask for with confidence and finesse. This is Beverly Hills, so expect to spend around $20 per cocktail, a price that feels worth it for the memorable experience.

Tiki-Ti is kitschy weirdness at its finest, complete with a toy mechanical bull and dangerously strong—and delicious—cocktails. This small A-frame tiki bar in Los Feliz only seats a handful of people at a time (many of whom are regulars who have been coming here since the '70s), so plan to wait outside on busy nights. But know that the wait is worth it, because a night here is about fun traditions, like the whole bar chant that happens when you order the Uga Booga. Or when one of your friends ends up on the floor after thinking they have the stamina for a third cocktail. 

Imagine a dark, cramped, and moody bar scene in a brick-walled room. Well-dressed people sip boulevardiers and discuss experimental theater. No, you aren’t on the Lower East Side or Canal Saint-Martin, you’re at Normandie Club in Koreatown. It’s an excellent first stop before a night out in Ktown, or a great nightcap destination after a dinner date for gin gimlets with black plums and late-night booth canoodling. There’s also a secret dance club in the back on weekends. 

Located on the outskirts of Chinatown, this is the LA location of a fancy NYC cocktail bar where bartenders wear vintage white pharmaceutical coats. Are the costumes necessary? Probably not, but the medicinal-themed cocktails made from a bunch of tinctures are fantastic, like the "Bounceback" with Earl Grey-infused gin and red bell pepper. And don’t let the theme fool you, Apotheke isn't a speakeasy at all. There's a massive back patio where you can people-watch and listen to the DJ playing disco tracks.

A visit to Death & Co. feels like peeking inside of a Rolex. This polished Arts District spot nails the details of a fancy speakeasy-style bar experience: dark hallways, candlelit basement booths, and physical menus that look like art zines. The thoughtfulness carries over to their drinks, too, which include recipes from their original location in NYC plus originals in themes like “Boozy & Honest” or “Light & Playful.” We especially love the mezcal-based Sister Disco with smoked pineapple, habanero shrub, and a bit of sherry. Scoring a walk-in table can be tough throughout the week, so be sure to make a reservation ahead of time for a smooth entrance.

Despite having a name that screams "dive bar," Blue Collar is actually a sort of fancy cocktail place in Mid-City, albeit one with a love of 80s rock music and a scenic view of a giant CVS. It's not the most romantic bar in town, but this small Beverly Grove spot has some very talented bartenders who can make you pretty much anything. That may be a stretch, but since there’s no official cocktail menu, we love coming here without a drink in mind and having the staff throw a handful of questions our way. Once they have an idea of what you’re feeling, they pull something together that’s as delicious as it is potent.

Contrary to the name, Big Bar isn’t very big. In fact, this Los Feliz cocktail spot is pretty intimate, and if you manage to find a seat at the bar, please grab it. Located inside Alcove on Hillhurst (far away from the irritatingly sceney patio), Big Bar is low-key and the kind of place where the bartenders actually talk to you as they stir a gin cocktail infused with brined nopales and cedar smoke. Menus change seasonally, so don’t expect old favorites to stick around long. Do expect whatever new drinks are being poured to be just as good. 

photo credit: Seven Grand

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good Cocktails


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For people who make whiskey their entire personality, Seven Grand is the holy grail. This massive DTLA bar feels like an upscale Canadian hunting lodge (prepare for aggressive taxidermy), but spying Bambi on the wall becomes a lot less jarring once you order one of the whiskey cocktails, which are the best in town. Apart from their dedicated old-fashioned menu—there are seven variations to choose from–they also do solid riffs on drinks like highballs and palomas. And if you want to get even deeper into mash bills and barrel-aging, check out their semi-secret tasting room in the back, Bar Jackalope.

Baby Gee looks like the kind of old-school, divey, watering hole that would be welcome in any neighborhood: vintage checkered floors, a wooden banquette, and stained glass windows to keep it comfortably dim. But it's the small details that really make this charming bar a place to prioritize in Long Beach. Some actual thought was obviously put into the reasonably priced cocktail menu—most drinks cost under $15, but still offer interesting twists like a dash of lemongrass in your whiskey soda. You’re in safe hands with any of the classics, but in a setting like this, a mezcal Manhattan just makes sense.

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