Los Angeles is home to everything from sultry speakeasies in Hollywood to lively tiki bars by the beach. Of course, a classic Manhattan or martini never gets old, but the L.A. cocktail scene has so much more to offer. In fact, this diverse and trendsetting Southern California city has been at the forefront of the reemerging cocktail craze. That said, if you want to branch out from your typical margarita, L.A. is the place to be (and drink). Creative techniques like milk-washing and smoking result in one-of-a-kind libations that showcase the true artistry behind mixology. Plus, an enticing ambiance is always a priority in the city of showbiz. Whether you’re in need of a dimly lit date night spot or a bohemian bar for Sunday funday, these are the five coolest cocktail bars in L.A.
1542 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
After gaining popularity as a pop-up for many years, Bar Flores has found itself a permanent home in the heart of Echo Park. This cantina-inspired cocktail bar has a beachy interior and a romantic patio, making it a go-to spot for daytime drinks or a nightcap. Bar Flores is known to get pretty packed on the weekends, but you can also pop in on a Tuesday evening for live music from local performers. The Clarified Coconut Punch uses unique flavors like tarragon and almond to create a refreshing and easy to sip drink that is perfect for a sunny day in L.A. If you’re partial to margaritas, the Flores Margarita, made with mezcal, is smoky without being too complex, and it can also be ordered in a pitcher if you’re imbibing with a larger group. Pair your cocktails with some chips and salsa or ceviche for the ultimate summer spread.
7465 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Between its rustic interior, prime location and loyal clientele, it’s no wonder why Melrose Umbrella Co. is one of the coolest cocktail bars in L.A. The post-prohibition decor and vintage appeal make this the ultimate spot for after-work happy hours on Melrose Avenue. If you’re a fan of the old fashioned, there are four different takes to choose from, and each has their own charm. The botanical-forward Romance Without Pressure is balanced by passionfruit and cucumber, while the show-stopping Mezcali Mi Banana is served literally on fire, with a smoking stick of rosemary. Get the party going with the boozy Scorpion Bowl that serves two to three people, and order some mole fries to snack on.
818 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Death & Co. is a New York City transplant that is known for its masterful cocktails and speakeasy ambiance. Located in LA.’s historic Arts District, Death & Co. is the kind of cocktail bar where you’ll want to make a reservation. Though walk-ins are welcome, it tends to fill up fast, especially on weekends. The cocktail menu is broken down into five different sections so that patrons can easily decipher between light, easy to drink cocktails and more spirit-forward libations. Prefer a drink that masks the taste of alcohol? Order the Deputy of Love or Dragon’s Dream. Craving a cocktail that has a punch? The Margin Walker blends whiskey, rum and coffee amaro to create an ultra smooth sipper. If you’re in need of zero-proof options, Death & Co. also serves several different mocktails that are just as impressive as the real thing.
1263 W Temple St, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Sustainability and inclusivity are at the forefront of Thunderbolt’s priorities. This neighborhood cocktail bar is great for groups or solo patrons looking to wrap up some after-work emails with a drink in hand. The modern and slightly minimalistic interior is fitting for the East L.A. location, and creative doesn’t even begin to describe the innovation behind Thunderbolt’s cocktails. Savory sips like the Liquid Picnic and Gochujang Bloody definitely stand out, but there are plenty of sweet and fruity libations to explore. The Mocha Martini is made from Counter Culture Coffee, a sustainably-focused brand that is known for making some of the best brews in the city. Though the Southern-inspired food menu is small, the dishes are comforting and classic, and the chicken drumettes with a savory tamari glaze are the ideal bar bite.
4604 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041
Capri Club has been Eagle Rock’s coolest cocktail bar since 1963. The pink booths and bar stools create a vintage vibe that manages to be both timeless and trendy. The Negronis definitely shine, and there are a few different renditions to choose from. The classic Negroni can be made with your choice of gin or mezcal, while the White Negroni is made with both. If you’re looking to beat the heat, order the Frozen Negroni or stick with a classic spritz. The Venetian Spritz will transport you to Italy with one sip, but the mezcal Espresso Martini provides the perfect boost before a night out on the town.