One of the greatest realizations you have as an adult is that Thanksgiving is really just a drinking holiday. In particular, the night before Thanksgiving. Everyone you haven’t seen all year is back home, and the only thing anyone has to do the next day is pretend like they’re helping in the kitchen while actually just hoarding food before it’s served to everyone else. And those two elements make a recipe for public revelry.
While there’s no shortage of bars in LA hoping to lure you in on Wednesday, we recommend these select few to make you and your hodgepodge of high school friends and visiting cousins comfortable. Here are the eight LA bars to tell everyone to meet at on the drunkest day of the year.
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. Gas Lite 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, a lot of unhinged dancing with people you don’t know, and exactly what you need before four days straight with your in-laws.
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 combination of complete debauchery and a setting you actually want to hang out in. The Lankershim spot is quite large, with big booths everywhere and all the over-stimulating decor your increasingly apparent buzz could want. Go ahead and order the $28 “scorpion bowl” that contains every type of alcohol created.
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 from one of the 100 beers they have in stock. There’s no hard liquor here, but that’s probably for the best.
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 talk about your jobs, and call your Uber home hours before surge pricing even begins.
Your sister’s boyfriend Bevan, who has a craft beer Instagram, is in town and won’t stop talking about the hype of Northeast 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 the adjoining Highland Park Brewery, which is good news for Bevan because HPB is one of the best breweries in LA. 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 delicious. Get the IPA pork tacos.
It’s that point in the evening where your mom goes into 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 grab an Uber to Dan Sung Sa in Koreatown. The dimly lit and very smoky (from the open kitchen) tavern along 6th Street is the kind of place 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.
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 new bar and restaurant right on the Hermosa Pier that’s quickly become the go-to drinking spot in an area with no shortage of bars. 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. The regular food menu ends at 10:30pm, but there’s a late-night menu that goes until 12:30am.
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 due to the alcohol you’re drinking) 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.