This Culver City cocktail bar takes its name from "Barney Oldfield," a man who lived a near-mythic life racing cars and starring in automotive-inspired stage and film works and later buried in the neighborhood. For all the excitement in Barney's life, Oldfield’s offers a subdued, neighborhood-bar experience with an homage—blinds drawn, French bistro barstools and white tiles—to the perfected trés charmant chez Keith-McNally. Then, you step back outside and realize you’re on the corner of Venice Blvd. Locals congregate comfortably around a smartly-designed bar with pockets for small groups to mingle over the pared-down cocktail list, representative of 1933 Group's (Thirsty Crow, Big Foot Lodge, La Cuevita) dedication to post-prohibition drinks.
Good for: Happy hour runs from 5-9pm when cocktails are $7 and wine and beer, $5. Groups can get a little punch-bowl action with the Standing 8 Punch ($90/bowl) made with Tores 5 brandy, Plymouth sloe gin, housemade Falernum syrup, Champagne, fruit juices and spices. There's plenty of seating inside or, if you don't mind the buzz of traffic off Venice Boulveard, opt for the outdoor area. If a case of late-night rotgut is doing you in, order up a ham and cheese panini ($6) to recover.
The scene: Is hit or miss: might be tame and good for reading Raymond Carver, or it's jamming with a younger crowd sporting loose clothing and mustaches.
The playlist: surf rock á la Pulp Fiction, 70's disco and punk rock from the Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back" to Kiss' "New York Groove."
Drink this: Barney was once banned from racing so in his honor try The Outlaw ($10), which is a refreshing mix of Milagro Reposado, jalapeño, honey, fresh grapefruit, lime and cilantro. Or opt for bartender’s choice, which on the night of our visit, a happy marriage of gin and Aperol with a twist of lime: a perfect nightcap at $10.