The Ultimate Hollywood Bar Crawl
Raise a glass in Golden Age watering holes, a Tiki paradise, a '70s bachelor pad and more
Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world, and with so many creatives in the city it's no surprise that bars from Downtown L.A. to the Beach Cities serve some of the best cocktails in the country. Hollywood bars in particular offer something for everyone, from Golden Age watering holes to a tropical hideaway to a swinging '70s bachelor pad. Read on for our guide to the best bars in Hollywood.
The Cat & Fiddle
The Cat & Fiddle was originally opened in 1982 by London native, Kim Gardner and his New Orleanian wife, Paula. In 1985, the Cat moved into a larger location on Sunset Boulevard that featured one of the best patios in L.A. After closing in December 2014, the beloved pub moved once again and reopened in June 2017 at the former Mud Tavern space on Highland Avenue. The Cat is more intimate than its previous location, but long-time patrons will appreciate the garden patio. Kim passed away in 2001, and today Paula and their three daughters run the Cat & Fiddle with the same welcoming spirit. The Cat offers an extensive selection of craft, imported and domestic beers, wines and fresh signature cocktails. The menu features British staples such as Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, and Homemade Savoury Pies.
Located at the landmark Hollywood Historic Hotel in East Hollywood, The Edmon boasts a stunning Art Deco design that evokes the hotel's 1920s heyday. The spacious interior features a long marble bar, elegant chandeliers, and custom metal and woodwork throughout. The cocktails are classically driven with a modern twist, like the Tea's Knees - the gin-based variation on the classic Bee's Knees is made with Aviation Gin, earl grey honey, Amaro Montenegro, and lemon juice served on the rocks. A nod to the hotel's Golden Age legacy, the Citizen Kane shakes up tequila, rhum agricole, avocado, sage and lime juice into an herbaceous libation.
One of L.A.'s best dive bars is located on Hollywood Boulevard next door to The Pantages Theatre. Opened in 1934, the Frolic Room boasts one of the best neon signs of any bar and was a favorite haunt of Charles Bukowski. The Pantages hosted the Academy Awards from 1950 to 1960, so it's fun to imagine Oscar winners like Marlon Brando and Audrey Hepburn stopping by the Frolic Room to celebrate their big nights. The famous two-panel mural by legendary artist Al Hirschfeld features caricatures of more than two dozen iconic figures, including Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Picasso, Albert Einstein and Louis Armstrong. Pro tip: there's free Jiffy Pop popcorn, you just have to ask the bartender (nicely).
Good Times at Davey Wayne’s
Twin brothers Mark and Johnnie Houston are the kings of Hollywood themed bars. Their Houston Hospitality group runs the World War II inspired Harvard & Stone; their ode to pre-Castro Havana, La Descarga; and Pour Vous, a Parisian style cocktail lounge located across from Paramount Studios. Perhaps the Houston's most personal bar is Good Times at Davey Wayne's, an homage to their father. Secret entrances are a Houston Hospitality specialty - at Good Times, guests enter through a refrigerator in the back of a "garage sale." The groovy design evokes their dad's swinging '70s bachelor days - velvet couches, shag rugs, vintage pinball machine, and a backyard party with hammocks and astroturf. Don't miss the boozy sno-kones served out of a camper.
LONO Hollywood is a tropical hideaway located off Hollywood Boulevard in the heart of Tinseltown. Opened in June 2017, LONO is actually three spaces in one - a Polynesian-themed bar in front, an elegant lounge (aka the Tea Room), and the Green Patio - a soaring atrium that's open on Fridays and Saturdays. Asian bites by SBE's David Lespron include yakisoba madripoor, musubi bowl, kung pao ribs, oxtail steamed buns, and green papaya salad. The Tiki-style cocktails start with the Curse of Lono, named for the Hunter S. Thompson novel and made with "a special blend of exotic juices, intense spices, and intoxicating spirits." Magnum P.I. fans will love the King Kamehameha - "many rums from many places," Aperol, lime, Cara Cara orange, pineapple, passion fruit and honey. Classic Tiki drinks include the Mai Tai, Navy Grog, Pearl Diver and Missionary's Downfall. Bring a few friends and share large format drinks like the Tropic of Capricorn or the deadly Scorpion Bowl.
Lost Property Bar
Opened in November 2014, Lost Property is located adjacent to 33 Taps at the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The dimly-lit bar features a handsome design with dark wood and leather, vintage luggage and an old player piano that’s been repurposed as a DJ booth. The whiskey-forward bar features aromatic drinks like the President's Liquor Cabinet #2, made with Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Bonded Applejack, Drambuie, ruby port, orange bitters and lemon essence. For something on the citrusy side, order the Howard Hawks - Old Overholt Rye, Stolen Coffee & Cigaretts Rum, lemon, lime, egg white and absinthe essence. In a lighter mood? Try the Pinata Party with blanco tequila, dry curacao, lime, agave, grenadine, seltzer and pomegranate seeds.
Musso & Frank Grill
Opened in Hollywood since 1919, Musso & Frank Grill has been a favored destination for generations of celebrities, from Charlie Chaplin to Marilyn Monroe to George Clooney. Literary legands were also regulars, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Raymond Chandler and Dorothy Parker. The old school menu features classics like flannel cake, grenadine of beef and welsh rarebit, and daily specials like the famous chicken pot pie. A star in its own right is the classic Martini, served with an olive garnish and a small carafe with the remaining cocktail on the side - it's a classy touch that’s enjoying a revival at craft cocktail bars. Some guests prefer a Gibson (a la Cary Grant in North by Northwest) - it's the same cocktail but garnished with a cocktail onion. Whether it’s an olive, a lemon twist or an onion, be sure to sip slowly and drink in the history of your surroundings.
THE SPARE ROOM - Hollywood Roosevelt
Located on the Mezzanine level of the Hollywood Roosevelt, The Spare Room is a lively cocktail lounge and gaming parlor with custom-made wooden board games like chess and Jenga. Sip a craft cocktail at the bar, or share a punch bowl made to order for groups from four to 20 guests. The Rock Lobster is a crowd pleaser, made with Ketel One Vodka, spiced hibiscus, coconut water, amontillado sherry, pineapple and lime juices. Lace up a pair of bespoke George Esquivel shoes and bowl a few frames on the vintage bowling lanes, then snap a few pics in the photo booth that's hidden in the wall across from the bar.
The Roosevelt offers more drink options throughout the property - Public Kitchen and the Library Bar on the ground floor; the poolside Tropicana Bar; and boozy milkshakes at 25 Degrees, the hotel's 24-hour burger joint.
Part of the 1933 Group (which is currently renovating the landmark Formosa Cafe), Sassafras Saloon transports guests to the Deep South in a discreet location off Vine Street. An actual townhouse was deconstructed in Savannah, Georgia and rebuilt inside Sassafras. From the moment they step inside, guests will feel like they're in the bayou - there are plants throughout the space, along with wicker chairs, portraits of Southern patriarchs and antique mirrors. A creaky conveyer belt above the bar displays bottle-aged drinks that rotate constantly. The playful cocktails showcase the flavors of the South and So Cal's seasonal bounty of ingredients. Jazz, bluegrass, funk and burlesque performances add to the authentic atmosphere.
Scum & Villainy Cantina
Opened as a Star Wars themed pop-up in August 2016, Scum & Villainy Cantina became a permanent bar a year later. Named for Obi-Wan Kenobi's famous warning to Luke Skywalker in Episode IV ("Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious."), the Cantina dropped its pop-up ticketing system and is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday. The self-described "neighborhood geek bar" encourages cosplay and welcomes all fandoms along with visitors from a galaxy far, far away. Themed cocktails include the Wretched Blue Milk (rum, Coco Lopez, blue curacao, pineapple juice), The Chosen One (vodka, melon liqueur, pineapple juice), and A Bad Feeling About This (tequila, blood orange juice, splash of cranberry juice).
TAO Asian Bistro
Located at the new Dream Hollywood Hotel, TAO is a massive two-level space with a stunning bar and four private dining rooms. The main dining room is anchored by a 20-foot Guan Yin that floats above a koi pond - 3D projection mapping brings the statue to life. The 40-foot Grand Staircase features custom banquettes that offer prime seating to see and be seen.
A reclining Buddha watches over guests in the Dragon Bar, which features Asian inspired cocktails like the Lychee Martini, made with Absolut Elyx Vodka and Japanese lychee-infused syrup. The Yin or Yang starts with Suntory Toki Whisky, Yellow Chartreuse, Maraschino Liqueur, and cold pressed lemon juice - "Yin" is served up with an edible flower, while "Yang" is a lowball garnished with candied ginger. The pan-Asian menu is ideal for sharing in the lounge: dim sum, sushi and sashimi, yakitori, pad thai, satay and more.
The Three Clubs
Located on Vine Street, The Three Clubs is a dimly lit cocktail lounge with deep leather banquettes, velvet wallpaper and Vegas-style carpeting. Opened in 1991 by nightlife veterans Marc Smith and Matthew Webb, The Three Clubs' classic drinks and old school Hollywood vibe were years ahead of the modern craft cocktail movement. The adjacent Back Bar Stage features a wide range of nightly entertainment, including live music, comedy, cabaret and burlesque.
In addition to its appearance in the 1996 indie hit Swingers, The Three Clubs is featured in multiple episodes of Mad Men, including the Season Two finale, "Meditations in an Emergency." After Betty finds out she’s pregnant, she drops the kids off at Don’s hotel, goes shopping and heads to a bar. She initially brushes off the stranger who buys her a drink, but then engages in a tryst with him in the bar’s office.
Tucked away in a strip mall off La Brea Avenue, The Woods puts the "wood" in "Hollywood" with its themed forest interior of hand-cut cedar blocks, handmade tables carved out of tree trunks, elk antler chandeliers, and tree stumps repurposed as surprisingly comfy bar stools. Signature cocktails include the Mint Julep, Mr. C's Cucumber Cocktail, The Southside and the S'mores Martini. The Woods offers an eclectic mix of music from the jukebox and DJs that spin on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The generous Happy Hour goes until 10 p.m. every night.