It’s that festive time of year when Los Angeles hosts a variety of Holiday Events and the world famous Tournament of Roses. For cocktail enthusiasts around the country, Dec. 5 is nearly as important a date on the calendar as Dec. 25 or Dec. 31. Created by Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Repeal Day is celebrated every Dec. 5 to honor the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933, which ended 13 years of Prohibition. The national celebration has grown in popularity every year, and bars across Los Angeles are featuring drink specials and events to commemorate the 81st anniversary of Repeal. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt said at the end of Prohibition: “What America needs now is a drink.”
NOTE: all Repeal Day events listed take place on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 unless otherwise noted.
1933 Group, named after the year that Prohibition was repealed, owns craft cocktail bars throughout Los Angeles. On Repeal Day, 1933 Group is celebrating the “death” of the 18th Amendment by featuring a special Repeal Day cocktail for just $1 at all of its bars: Bigfoot Lodge, Bigfoot West, Harlowe, La Cuevita, Oldfield’s Liquor Room, Sassafras Saloon and Thirsty Crow. All of the bars are offering an Old Fashioned except La Cuevita, which is featuring a Tequila Press. The Repeal Day $1 cocktail special is available from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5 with a limit of two per person. Funeral attire is “appreciated.”
Following the Repeal Day special, Sassafras bar manager Karen Grill (recently named one of the best bartenders in America by Southwest: The Magazine) is throwing a Repeal Day party sponsored by Angels Envy, featuring cocktail specials, live music, food specials and other fun surprises. The festivities start at 8 p.m.
Located in Downtown L.A., Angel City Brewery is celebrating the end of the Noble Experiment in its newly remodeled Beer Hall. The Prohibition Repeal Party features Prohibition-era live music, passed hors d’oeuvres, beer cocktails from guest mixologists and a special keg tapping and toast. Speakeasy dress code is strictly enforced and Prohibition-era garb is highly encouraged. Individual tickets are $25 per person, including two drink tickets redeemable at the bar and passed hors d’oeuvres. Table reservations are available for $200. Tables seat 10 and include eight drink tickets to be redeemed at the bar, along with passed hors d’oeuvres. The party will continue in the Public House, where entrance is free and open to the public as always.
With its full service patio on Spring Street and a comfortably designed interior, Beelman's Pub is a Downtown L.A. favorite for locals and visitors alike. Settle into a leather booth or gather your friends at the communal table for craft cocktails and beers paired with moderately priced pub fare like oysters, fish and chips, pepper crusted steak and gravy fries. On Repeal Day, Beelman’s is releasing its barrel-aged Brooklyn, specially priced at $7 all day. Aged in a Charbay barrel, the Brooklyn is made with Twelve Five Rye, Dolin Dry Vermouth, China-China Amer and Luxardo Maraschino. At 9:30 p.m., Twelve Five Rye cocktail specials and a limited number of Twelve Five cigars will be available.
At 12:05 p.m. on Repeal Day, Big Bar in Los Feliz is releasing The Repeal Reserve, a special barrel-aged version of its current featured cocktail, The Repeal. Created by Amanda Gunderson of Congenial Spirits, The Repeal is made with Twelve Five Rye, Pedro Ximénez sherry, SNAP, Angostura bitters and smoked cinnamon. Distilled in Iowa and named for the date that Prohibition was repealed, Twelve Five Rye features a vintage bottle design inspired by Prohibition-era medicinal whiskey bottles. Both versions of The Repeal are priced at $10 and the barrel-aged release will be served until it runs out.
Cole’s is the oldest public house in Los Angeles, opened in 1908 and housed in the landmark Pacific Electric building in Downtown L.A. Along with Philippe the Original, Cole’s claims to be the originator of the French Dip sandwich. One advantage that Cole’s has over its longtime rival is the historic Red Car Bar, the 40-foot mahogany bar that continues to welcome new generations of thirsty imbibers. Cole’s celebrates its 106th anniversary on Repeal Day with $5 Campari cocktail specials and the $19.08 Special: two French Dips and two sides.
On the eve of Repeal Day, 213 Nightlife is hosting the annual Jimmy Barella Bartending Competition. Named for the legendary bartender who worked at the Red Car Bar from 1918 to 1983, the competition features ten Downtown bartenders going head-to-head. Following the competition, the public is invited to count down to Repeal Day with $5 Campari specials, a live jazz band and a special ice luge. Repeal Day Eve takes place from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. No cover, period attire is encouraged.
When it comes to a Prohibition theme, it doesn’t get more appropriate than Ebanos Crossing, located adjacent to Bunker Hill in Downtown L.A. The multi-level lounge is named for Los Ebanos, a small Texas town on the Rio Grande and a key bootlegging site during Prohibition. Ebanos Crossing is hosting a Happy Hour from 4-8 p.m. on Repeal Day, with specials like $5 Old Fashioneds and $1 tacos. The event is sponsored by Evan Williams of Heaven Hill Distilleries and a portion of proceeds will go to Inspire Artistic Minds, to help give scholarships to bartenders and connect them to educational experiences.
Since its opening in April 2014, Faith & Flower has become one of Downtown L.A.’s top dining destinations. Located just a few blocks from STAPLES Center, the expansive restaurant features an ornate interior design that evokes L.A. history, such as the nearby Broadway theatre district, Grand Avenue mansions and more. Chef Michael Hung’s French-Asian cuisine is paired with a stellar bar program helmed by Michael Lay, who found inspiration in 19th century bar manuals and features cocktails like the acclaimed clarified milk punch. Beginning at 5 p.m. on Repeal Day, Lay is featuring a special $5 cocktail menu all night long, including classics like the Sazerac, Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Negroni. Ice will be carved a la minute from a large clear block.
Opened in November 2014, Lost Property is located adjacent to 33 Taps at the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The handsomely designed bar features dark woods and leather seating, vintage luggage and an old player piano that’s been repurposed as a DJ booth. For Repeal Day, Lost Property is featuring $5 cocktail specials with Redbreast and Jameson from 7-10 p.m.
Magnolia House is a new hidden gem in Pasadena, located on Lake Avenue in a 1912 Craftsman bungalow that once housed a post-Prohibition liquor store. Step through the gate and into an intimate lounge to enjoy craft cocktails and a global menu of small plates. On Repeal Day, Magnolia House is featuring the Vieux Carré for $10. Named for the French Quarter in New Orleans, the Vieux Carré was created in the 1930s at the historic Hotel Monteleone. The classic cocktail is made with rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura and Peychaud bitters and garnished with a lemon twist.
The warm and distinctive interior of Melrose Umbrella Co. features 13 umbrellas hanging on one wall, representing the dry years of Prohibition. On Dec. 5, Melrose Umbrella Co. is pulling out all the stops with its Repeal Day Party Under the Umbrella, taking place from noon to 2 a.m. Your first Old Fashioned is just 5 cents, and then it’s $5 for Old Fashioneds, Fernet-Branca and Old Forester shots, and Carpano Americanos all day and night. There are also free haircuts and shaves from noon to 4 p.m. on the patio, raffles every hour on the hour (hoodies, barrels, Fernet coins et al), and four House Cheers throughout the night - drinks poured for everyone in the bar to toast Repeal. Live jazz by a four-piece 1930s band from 4-7:30 pm. and DJ Lady Di from 9 p.m.-2 a.m.
Discreetly located on Highland Avenue, Next Door Lounge is celebrating Prohibition Days, a week-long series of daily deals that ends on Repeal Day. Specials include Soup Kitchen Happier Hours (weekdays 5-8 p.m.), Black Tuesday (“soup kitchen” prices like $6 Moscow Mules $3 deviled eggs all night), American Spirit Wednesday (tasting with food pairing) and Ladies’ Night Thursday (“dames” get a glass of bubbly for $1, password is “Big Cheese” at the door). Dec. 5 is “Good Ol’ Friday,” featuring the Old Time Burger paired with an Old Fashioned for $15.
This sexy Parisian-themed lounge is part of the Houston Hospitality portfolio, which includes bars like La Descarga, Harvard & Stone and Good Times at Davey Wayne's. For Repeal Day, Pour Vous is hosting a fête with classic burlesque, aerial and singing performances, and music from the 1920s-40s by DJ Anduze. Classic cocktail specials are sponsored by Pernod Ricard. Prohibition-era dress code will be enforced at the door.
Located on Windward Avenue just steps from Venice Beach, the historic Townhouse and The Del Monte Speakeasy opened as Menotti’s in 1915. The bar became a “grocery store” during the Prohibition era, while downstairs The Del Monte became a hub for rum runners. After the repeal of Prohibition, the above-ground bar re-opened and boasted regular patrons such as Charlie Chaplin and Venice resident Jim Morrison of The Doors. Today, both floors serve craft cocktails and The Del Monte features a variety of live performances, from bands and DJs to comedy and burlesque.
Repeal Day festivities begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5 in the Townhouse with a complimentary roast pig feast until it’s gone. KPFK DJ Mark Maxwell is spinning from 7-10:30 p.m. and 1933 pricing will be in effect for one hour after the bell rings. Beginning at 7 p.m., The Del Monte Speakeasy features Repeal Day stories from acclaimed spirits and cocktail speaker Richard Foss (author of “Rum: A Global History”), punch bowls, three cocktails and live jazz by Brad Kay and His Ragtime Quartet until 10:30 p.m. All-inclusive tickets to The Del Monte are $25 and available at repealday.nightout.com.
Founded by legendary bartender Dale DeGroff and a group of cocktail authorities and historians, the Museum of the American Cocktail (MOTAC) is presenting a pair of events in L.A. on Repeal Day weekend. On Saturday, Dec. 6, MOTAC and the Craft in America Center are collaborating to open “Crafting the Cocktail,” a landmark exhibition of one-of-a-kind, handmade barware that showcases innovative designs inspired by the enjoyment of distilled spirits, both neat and mixed in cocktails. The opening reception is taking place from 4-6 p.m. The exhibit will run through Feb. 21, 2015.
On Monday, Dec. 8, MOTAC presents "A Complete History of Drinking (Abridged)," part of its Touring the Cocktail: MOTAC Los Angeles series. The seminar will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the rooftop lounge of the Ace Hotel in Downtown L.A. MOTAC Managing Director Liz Williams will present a lively history of drinking, from the ancient roots of alcoholic beverages to the modern craft cocktail renaissance. Ace Hotel Beverage Manager Dan Sabo will serve a menu of classic libations that span the history of mixed drinks, paired with gourmet appetizers from L.A. Chapter Executive Chef Ken Addington. Space is limited and advance booking is recommended. Tickets are $40 in advance and $50 at the door.