The gaudy opulence of this haute-hotel bar and its towering displays of top-shelf scotches and whiskies, alongside the largest bottle of Louis XIII we’ve ever seen, should not detract from the simplicity of superbly well-made cocktails. A talented brigade of uniformed bartenders show their knack and possess a sharp-witted sense of humor as dry as the cocktails—a refreshing digression from LA’s sweeter-style of mixology. The bar area itself is small with a handful of three-seat hightops before a demarcation point leads to the vast expanse of elegant carpeting and ritzy tables that is the restaurant, giving the whole place a quasi-Michelin rated restaurant vibe. Prices are through the roof, but what would you expect of the Beverly Wilshire? The beautifully luminous onyx bar is often brimming with patrons—from out-of-towners to Hollywood sharks—and perfect for couples. (Singles may want to wait until a better option opens up.) It’s a rather subdued atmosphere, save for the occasional eccentric Beverly Hills solo-going cougar sniffing out potential boy-toys.
Good for: For visiting guests, this is probably one of the best cocktail-bars to grace a hotel, offering the chance to sample truly well made barrel-aged Manhattans and Negronis, while noshing on some tasty house-made chips and seasoned nuts. The food menu offers honest and reliably creations from Peruvian chef Claudia Fossa, who brings upscale Central American flare to items like the rib eye anticuhco which boasts pineapple rocoto relish and avocado on corn tortillas ($17) or the shrimp causa served with mashed potato salad, avocado and corn cilantro emulsion ($16).
The scene: A posh older crowd size each other up, wondering who’s who. Typically, hotel guests stop in for breakfast, while local business execs in tailored suits and too much cologne stop in for expensive martini-fueled lunches while the evening brings a mix of folks in for dinner, some just hoping to land a comfortable spot at the bar to take in whatever sports-game is playing on the one corner TV.
The playlist: Thursday through Saturday nights, live bands cater to the restaurant and bar-goers from a good vantage point near the main entrance. (Think: The Eagles and Van Morrison covers from hip, well-dressed old dudes who can still jam.)
Drink this: Go straight for the barrel-aged program, currently with two offerings: A nicely refined Manhattan—bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters—and a Negroni made with gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, both a cool $19. From the signature cocktails, try the sublimely refreshing Cucumer-Ginger ($17), made with Hendricks Gin, ginger-infused vodka, St. Germain, lime juice and mint.