When David Cooley decided to open The Abbey in 1991, the bar scene in West Hollywood looked much different than it does now. Cooley, an Ohioan by way of Las Vegas, moved to the city in 1981, at the start of the AIDS crisis. "When I was coming to bars on Santa Monica Boulevard, it was not as open," he says. "There were no front patios where you could have a cigarette. It was all behind closed doors and through back alleys."
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The revitalized Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles is one of the most exciting neighborhoods in L.A., with new lofts, galleries, restaurants and shops opening at an incredible pace. Joining this renaissance are new breweries and gastropubs, making the Arts District another craft beer hub along with Torrance and Redondo Beach in the South Bay. The Downtown L.A. craft beer boom isn’t limited to the Arts District - the adjacent Little Tokyo neighborhood is home to Boomtown Brewery and Mumford Brewery, while Dry River Brewing and Indie Brewing Company are crafting beer in nearby Boyle Heights on the other side of the L.A. River. Read on for our guide to craft beer in the Arts District.
How magical would it be to instantly trade the sidewalks and steel of an urban downtown for a woodland utopia? Clifton's spanned 16,000-square-feet of faux redwoods, frolicking forest creatures, scenic murals, a brook babbling with limeade and a 20-foot waterfall cascading over artificial rocks. To say that Clifton’s was unique is like saying LeBron James is a pretty decent basketball player. Imagine a larger-than-life diorama designed by Walt Disney on a Pine Sol-fueled bender. Simply put, it was unlike any other restaurant in Los Angeles.
The speakeasy bar concept is no secret to Los Angeles nightlife, but it can be hard to keep track of all the hidden entrances, secret passwords and changing menu themes. While there are plenty of bars to visit, each space is a worthwhile venue to crack the code - whether it’s to drink, dance and much more. Visit them all to collect each of their unique perspectives on imbibing in L.A., because not only does each place regularly rotate their cocktail menu, they all have their own unexpected twist. Whether it's karaoke, cigars, a glowing dance floor, or simply a hard-to-find entrance, these bars have surprises waiting for you.