Where To Drink On The Drunkest Day Of The Year
The best bars to spend the night before Thanksgiving with friends, former classmates, and everyone else who stumbled into town.
One of the greatest realizations you have as an adult is that Thanksgiving is really just a drinking holiday. Specifically, the night before Thanksgiving. Everyone is back in town, and no one has anything to do tomorrow beyond pretending like they’re helping in the kitchen. That’s the perfect recipe for public revelry.
And while there’s no shortage of bars in LA hoping to lure you in on Wednesday, we recommend these select few if you’re looking to make your hodgepodge of high school friends and visiting cousins comfortable. Here are a dozen LA bars to celebrate the drunkest day of the year.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Tramp Stamp Granny’s
After accidentally lighting a chorus girl on fire while playing Lumière in your high school’s production of Beauty And The Beast, you walked away from the stage for good. Time go relive your musical-theater glory days at Tramp Stamp Granny’s. This Hollywood piano bar is a party almost every single day of the week, complete with Wicked sing-alongs, drag queen cabarets, and bartenders belting Celine Dion while pouring your whiskey shots. Plus, there isn’t an open flame in sight.
Sure, The Cliffdiver closes at 10pm during the week, but maybe an early last call isn’t the worst thing in the world, considering last year you showed up to Thanksgiving with two ice packs duct-taped to your head. This Mexican cantina right on PCH hasn’t been around long, but is already one of our favorite places to drink in Malibu. The margaritas are strong, they have a big front patio filled with lawn games, and if you get hungry, the mushroom quesadilla is tremendous.
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Having all your high school friends back in town means one thing - it’s a Valley night. There are plenty of places where you can get weird, but Tiki No in North Hollywood is that ideal mix of complete debauchery in a setting you actually want to spend time in. The Lankershim spot is quite large, with big booths and all the overstimulating decor your increasingly apparent buzz could want. Go ahead and order the $29 Scorpion Bowl that contains every type of alcohol created.
While the rest of the city gets blacked-out with strangers, you and your high school clique prefer to do that amongst yourselves - and that’s why you’re going to The Mandrake. This neighborhood cocktail bar on La Cienega is the kind of place where you can take over a massive booth with your friends, watch old movies being projected on the wall, and cuddle up in each other’s laps while drinking heavily until the lights come on.
photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee
The Little Friend
You become a different person when you’re with your childhood friends - and that person is a god of the dance floor. Since you have too much self-respect these days to be seen inside an actual club, head to The Little Friend in Venice instead. The tiny bar hidden behind Sunny Spot has strong drinks, a crowd that won’t annoy you, and a disco ball-adorned dance floor that just won’t quit.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Red Lion Tavern
Your family Thanksgiving doesn’t start until 3pm tomorrow, so the night is yours for the taking. But then you realize you’re in your 30s, and staying out past midnight is more of an accomplishment than anything else. Red Lion is the Silver Lake beer garden where you and your friends can drink a lot of German beer, lounge outside and complain about your jobs for a while, then call your Lyft hours before surge-pricing even begins.
Your old college friends decided to come to LA for Thanksgiving and want to experience Hollywood nightlife firsthand. But the last thing you want is to be fist-pumping to house music when you have to get up at 7am to put the 18-lb turkey in the oven. Find middle ground and head to Brickyard. The laid-back bar is a few blocks north of Hollywood Blvd. and, for that reason alone, avoids the typical Hollywood chaos. Here you’ll find a stiletto-less crowd playing billiards and shuffleboard, and drinking one of the 100 beers they have in stock. There’s no hard liquor here, but that’s probably for the best.
Dan Sung Sa
It’s that point in the evening where your mom goes into a full Chopped kitchen meltdown and starts screaming this is the last year she’ll be doing this. Mumble an awkward excuse about having to help your friend who doesn’t own a dog look for their dog and head to Dan Sung Sa in Koreatown. The dimly lit and very smoky (from the open kitchen) tavern is the kind of place where you post up in a booth with friends, drink soju like your life depends on it, scribble on the wooden walls, and stumble out way later than you planned. But it’s OK, mom’s in bed already.
Your sister’s boyfriend Bevan, who has a craft beer Instagram, is in town and won’t stop talking about Northeastern hazy IPAs. Shut him up by taking him to The Hermosillo, where you can prove LA is an incredible craft beer city. This Highland Park bar is basically a glorified tap room for Highland Park Brewery, which is good news for Bevan because HPB is one of the best breweries in town. But Hermosillo goes far beyond good beer - it’s also just a place where you want to spend your night. There’s a low-key crowd, a full wine list for non-beer people, and a food menu that’s actually very good. Get the IPA pork belly tacos.
You haven’t sang in public since your high school a capella group disbanded after a freshman scream-fainted during the spring concert and broke his clavicle, but here you are. Gaslite is a Westside classic and one of the few remaining Santa Monica bars you can walk into and have no real clue how your night is going to go. We’ll give you a few ideas: A lot of karaoke, even more unhinged dancing with strangers, and everything you need before four-straight days with your in-laws.
photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee
Every Thanksgiving you and your friends come home and go to the same lame South Bay bars and act like you’re 21. Take your tradition into adulthood at Tower 12, the bar and restaurant right on the Hermosa Pier that’s quickly become our go-to drinking spot in an area with no shortage of drinking spots. The difference at Tower 12 is it’s actually a pretty solid restaurant in its own right, with a Hamptons-y aesthetic that isn’t nearly as irritating as it sounds.
LA doesn’t have much of a winter, but you can pretend it does at Bigfoot Lodge. Sure, its northern lodge aesthetic is aggressive, but for some reason (probably alcohol), it doesn’t feel cheesy. The crowd is mostly from the neighborhood and is always down to get a little rowdy, the drinks are strong, and there’s usually some sort of live music happening. Don’t worry, it’s still 70 degrees outside.