Two nights ago had me in a whirlwind tour through some of Downtown LA’s newest bars. And I should start by saying…wow, I haven’t been that drunk in a while.
We began the night at Crocker Club, the converted bank building where—according to their website, the sign on their door, and the security—they take their dress code policy very seriously. No ‘white tennis shoes,’ no beanies (oh, the horror!!), and apparently no leniency even if the hoodie’s cashmere or the wearer of it, stylish and chic. Verdict: Cocktails are strong. This will be easier to swallow when the bar menu starts in a month (according to our handsome bartender). Dress code—lose it puh-lease.
Next we headed to grab a bite at Cole’s, the supposed ‘Originator of the French Dip.’ What is French Dip you ask? Funny, I asked too. Apparently, it’s a short menu of great-sounding sandwich-cum-meat juice items that I can’t eat. The vegetarian special at Cole’s? Grilled Cheese. I’m in.
Our bartender at Cole’s could be the last bartender in Los Angeles and I’d feel ok about it. From his thorough explanation of drink options, to his dutiful search on his Sidekick (do those still work?), to his substitution of my first so-so drink for this awesome one with muddled raspberries (I just like to say the word muddled!), he rocked.
Last, we took a quick walk through Cole’s to the back door where we entered The Varnish, the new bar from NY bar legend Sasha Petraske (Milk & Honey), Cedd Moses (owner of Cole’s and nearly everything else in Downtown LA) and Eric Alperin (who I’m sure is someone equally important).
Though The Varnish has already been infiltrated by a few folks with cheap bags, trucker hats and button downs, the vibe, for the most part, has somehow remained intact in this small bar that occupies the back room of Coles, mixes drinks to a tee and employs bar staff dressed like this...
Though by the time I made it back here, I stuck with a snazzy NON-alcoholic ginger drink. Impressive.