LAGuide

The LA Bar Hit List: Where To Drink Right Now

The best new bars in Los Angeles.

In order to help you figure out which new restaurants are actually worth a visit, we created the Hit List, our guide to LA’s recently opened (and really good) restaurants.

And here, we’re doing the same for bars. Finding a great place to drink in Los Angeles isn't always easy, but instead of wondering where to find the right scene or get a decent cocktail, we’ve done the work for you by highlighting some outstanding options that are fresh on the scene. From biodynamic wine bars to Hollywood rooftops and a dive bar that makes a great burger, these are the best new bars in Los Angeles.


THE SPOTS

What happens when you put a cramped aperitivo bar with a few leather banquettes and a vintage neon sign on a busy block in Eagle Rock? You get Capri Club. When it’s Friday night and you absolutely need to be seen wearing your vintage Jean Paul Gaultier while sipping an espresso martini, this place should be your number one choice. It’s total negroni-fueled fun. But be prepared to swim through a crowd of tipsy people who are already loitering in the narrow walkway to find an open seat. This walk-in only spot thrives on style and chaos, but that’s exactly why we love it.

When Clark Street took over Coffee Shop 101, they left the iconic diner on Franklin completely intact. Guess what? The same treatment has been given to Lily’s Bar—a cozy cocktail spot just down the hallway at the same Best Western. Formerly MiniBar, the tiny drinking den maintains the look and feel of a membership-only airport lounge in the 1960s: there’s a dark, wrap-around bar, a drinks menu filled with every classic cocktail in the book, and the ever-present possibility that you might go home with a pilot. OK, there are probably zero pilots at Lily’s, but it’s fun to dream. If you’re looking for a sexy (but not too sexy) midweek drink date spot, Lily’s is our current go-to around Hollywood.    

Oy Bar is one of the newest places to drink in Studio City, and yet, this dimly-lit dive bar feels like it’s already been around for years. Formerly called The Bar at Oyster House (hence the new name), this neighborhood drinking hole is now run by the Jeff’s Table crew with a menu full of excellent bar bites like a pastrami-stuffed quesadilla and a burger topped with hoisin ketchup and a mountain of cilantro. For drinks, expect well-executed house cocktails like a gin and tonic made with yuzu liqueur, Japanese gin white negronis, and a $9 Old Fashioned that’s only available during the daily Happy Hours (6-7pm and 11-11:30pm). Oy Bar is the kind of place you head after a sh*t day at work for a stiff drink, but it’s also worth noting that around 7:30pm, the energy here picks up—and stays that way until closing.

Kippered is a downtown wine bar with a unique specialty: tinned fish. Lots of tinned fish in fact, with over 50 different cans on the menu. The tinned fish platters here are pretty fantastic—ask the passionate staff for suggestions and you’ll be digging into Spanish octopus in olive oil with a pile of crackers, olives, good butter, and hot sauce. But if you aren’t someone whose eyes light up at a freshly popped tin of sardines, you should head to this charming, dark wood-lined bar steps from Grand Central Market anyway. It’s run by the same people behind DTLA Cheese, which means you can go to town on sheep’s milk pecorino and aged gouda, which pair well with the nice selection of wines by the glass and draft beer (there’s even a soft-rind cheese from France that’s served with a glug of Champagne poured over the top). Drinking snacks don’t get much better than this.

Benny Boy Brewing takes the best parts of summer—beers, brews, and firepits—and throws them all together to create a cool Lincoln Heights hangout spot that feels like a grown-up overnight camp. The place is equal parts brewery, cider house, and neighborhood beer garden. The dry-style ciders brewed on site are flavorful and crisp, and the expansive outdoor patio is an ideal place to gather your friends, share spooky stories, and discuss that ax-throwing class you recently signed up for. Plus, since pop-ups like La Prieta Mexicana and Big Lou’s BBQ show up here most nights, there’s a strong chance you’ll eat well, too.

With tropical drinks, bocadito sandwiches, and an ultra-sleek space, Bolita in Virgil Village is the Cuban-inspired cocktail bar of your dreams, complete with a dreamy pastel pink and mint green color scheme. Snacks here are supplied by El Cochinito and Café Tropical (the family behind Bolita also owns those establishments) and there’s a great happy hour with drink and food specials from 5-7pm. If you’re planning a night out on the Eastside, this tightly packed bar is a great place to start the night with a few friends, sip on Jamaican rum or cocktails infused with guava and coconut, and discuss Lee Pace’s facial hair.

Grandmaster Recorders was once a famous recording studio that saw Stevie Wonder, Foo Fighters, and Kanye West walk through its doors, and now it’s an upscale Italian-ish restaurant with music memorabilia on display. You can probably skip the caviar cannoli downstairs and head straight to the excellent rooftop bar, which has more of a lounge feel. It makes for a perfect first stop on a night out, or a pleasant outdoor space to catch up with friends over aperitivo cocktails. There’s plenty of booth seating for groups to sink into and take in the Hollywood skyline, plus stylish heaters that are disguised as giant lampshades for when temperatures dip below 78ºF.

Put the words “Hollywood” and “rooftop” together in a sentence and chances are you’ll spend a lot of money on bad music and even worse drinks. Bar Lis is an exception with its French Riviera-themed lounge, solid cocktail menu, and collection of DJ sets you can actually dance to. This rooftop does a good job of disguising that you’re right off Hollywood Boulevard with its dim lighting and chic atmosphere, but all of that can change depending on the night. Come to Bar Lis on weeknights for jazz concerts and cocktails with canapés, because Saturdays get packed with out-of-towners and social media stars dancing to remixes of disco tracks. And sure, drinks here are on the pricier side, but you’re paying for the views and the fact that you’re actually enjoying an LA rooftop for once.

This West Hollywood bar is the younger sibling to the longtime DTLA cantina of the same name, and as with the original, Las Perlas is where you head for anything tequila and mezcal-related. The cocktails here are excellent, from the house margarita with fresh lime to the Mexican Old Fashioned that blends reposado with a nutty piloncillo simple syrup. Weeknights here are typically quieter and a great option for Happy Hour, whereas weekends entail live music on Fridays and beer & shot specials. But the best part of Las Perlas’ second location is the food vendor hidden on the back patio: Moderno Cocina Libre. Their tacos come on delicious homemade corn tortillas and feature proteins like tender cochinita pibil with pickled red onion and a smoky chipotle-seasoned chicken tinga.

Only The Wild Ones is a natural wine bar in Venice that perfectly distills the current Abbot Kinney aesthetic: a lot of exposed brick, tall plants, a rose gold disco ball, and furniture that looks like it was pulled from a Pinterest board titled “Cali Boho Chic 2016.” The theme is a little on the nose, but we appreciate that most nights OTWO is a fun yet mellow spot to sip interesting wines in relative peace (on weekends, there’s a live DJ and the crowds are busier). Aside from the large wine selection, there are a few snacks, draft beers, and some refreshing low-ABV cocktails. A white wine “Old Fashioned” made with amaro and orange oil is crisp like an Aperol spritz, while the Wild Spritz with a rosé aperitif has a bold floral quality going on.

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