Following in the speakeasy trend set by the likes of the Varnish and La Descarga, this Koreatown lounge—a low-ceiling, white marble and green-leather banquettes set the "Caesars Club" vibe, perhaps a nod to the former karaoke inhabitant. As expected, the entrance is unmarked: A stylish red door leads to a theatrically disorienting wall of doorknobs and keyholes. Once inside, there’s a small selection of beer and wine—four bottled beers (IPA, Lager, Brown Ale, Triple) and six wines by-the-glass (bubbly, white, rose and red)—but the cocktail program is front and center. Fresh herbs, fruits, simple syrups and torches set the stage for well-made, craft cocktails prepared by attentive and friendly bartenders donning classic white collared shirts and black vests. There’s a limited late-night, food menu from the next door Stall 239—try the Lollipop Chicken Wings ($7) and not-so-date-friendly garlic fries ($3).
Good for: Sipping craft cocktails amongst a celeb contingent, thanks to co-owner/actor Hill Harper.
The scene: Weeknights offer more of a "Sinatra" vibe, which we take to mean there’s “No one in the place." The focus is entirely on the art of mixology and serious aficionados can indulge in well-made drinks. Weekends offer a completely different experience with an undoubtedly Koreatown contingent of the young, attractive and well-dressed—dress code is enforced—crowd into banquettes. When the bar gets slammed, an abridged cocktail list replaces the 11 signature cocktails normally on offer and DJs turn up the music giving the place a "club" feel.
The playlist: At the will of high-minded DJs.
The bartender says: There’s an unintended surprise thanks to all the “hush, hush” mentality: An unabashed fully marbled hallway leading to wholly unmarked restrooms—choose wisely ladies and gents.
Drink this: Signature cocktails run $12 across the board. The Torpedo is a luscious taste-bomb of pear vodka, pear nectar, lemon juice, egg white, maple syrup, fresh ginger juice, black pepper and droplets of toasted sesame seed oil that add nutty complexity and a savory surprise. Balled-Up builds on homemade ginger beer with bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup and mint leaves. If you like it sweet, try the Old Money—Scotch whiskey, demerara syrup, fresh ginger juice, bitters and an orange peel.