Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right California icon-chevron-right Los Angeles icon-chevron-right The 12 best bars in Los Angeles

The 12 best bars in Los Angeles

Between these cocktail dens, neighborhood wine bars and some of the city’s best beers, you’ll never be thirsty again
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Advertising

December 2018: Up to number one in our list is the NoMad, whose gorgeous lobby-bar program expanded to add equally exquisite cocktail menus in the café at nighttime and, more recently, the rooftop. New at number six is Bibo Ergo Sum, Beverly Grove’s near-hidden cocktail den, which launched with a menu in ode to Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Presitige,’ but has more than come into its own. Our latest addition is also the most eye-catching: The Wolves is carving out an intricate corner of the bar scene for itself that’s somehow more detailed than its transportive, antique-dotted decor. 

The thirst is real in Los Angeles, which works out well because there’s no shortage of great drinks from the city’s best bars. There are cozy dives around town, happy hours with a view in Hollywood highrises, and pricey concoctions in the swankiest Downtown hotels. Here are the best of them all: the 12 top bars in Los Angeles, for every occasion. We’ve thrown in a few favorites by neighborhood and genre, too, to help you sip your way through L.A. Cheers.

Drank somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDrinkList. You can also find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews bars here.

1
Giannini Bar at the NoMad Los Angeles
Photograph: Courtesy the NoMad/Benoit Linero
Hotels, Boutique hotels

The NoMad

icon-location-pin Downtown Financial District

When the hospitality juggernaut landed in L.A., it had to live up to its world-class New York City counterpart. To our amazement, it did. We’re thinking the awesomeness has something to do with the rigorously trained team, a massive yet expertly curated 40-drink menu and, oh yeah, one of the sexiest, moodiest interiors in all of Downtown. But the cocktails don’t stop in the lobby: There’s also a cheeky beverage program on the roof, where tiki-leaning cocktails and blended drinks arrive in plastic pineapples, and a coffee-cocktail program in the café once the sun sets. No matter the NoMad bar you visit, local, seasonal ingredients and house-made yogurt, tinctures and tonics brighten rare liquors for drinks so good you’ll have to convince yourself to try something new each visit. (Even if they are around $20 a pop, they’re worth the splurge.)

2
Accomplice
Photograph: Rozette Rago
Bars, Cocktail bars

Accomplice

icon-location-pin Mar Vista

Take equal parts neighborhood bar, a staff with swagger, Taiwanese soul food and a cocktail menu that somehow makes even the most de rigueur drinks exciting, and you’ve got a Mar Vista gem that’s also the city’s best. The vibe is unpretentious, and the drinks are unadulterated fun: Pan-Asian ingredients sneak their way into the fundamentals, like a highball made with Toki Japanese whiskey, pineapple, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves—all the better to enjoy with the bao and dumplings made right next door at sibling restaurant Little Fatty. There’s even a section of the menu devoted to staff faves—and trust us on this one, you want whatever this staff is drinking. No matter how much you love your ’hood, you’ll consider a move to Mar Vista every time you drop by for a quaff.

Advertising
3
Beehive cocktail at the Walker Inn
Photograph: Courtesy the Walker Inn/ Katie Hoss
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Walker Inn

icon-location-pin Koreatown

You won’t find the themed menus that first made the Normandie Hotel a pin on the map of cocktail must-visits, but don’t fret—you can still find this speakeasy sporting its famous drink omakase, and it’s as impressive as ever. You access the Walker Inn through the Normandie Club, its fabulous sibling bar, and head to the back hallway; buzz to be let in, and enter a moody lounge brought to you by the drink geniuses at Proprietors LLC and 213 Hospitality. A bit of mad science from a hidden cocktail lab creates whimsical, fabulous clarified bloody Marys, brown-butter martinis and more, available à la carte or via the reservation-recommended omakase experience—even after all these years, seats fill up fast.

4
Big Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Big Bar/Eugene Lee
Bars, Cocktail bars

Big Bar

icon-location-pin Los Feliz

This charming spot is the Los Feliz equivalent of Cheers, where everybody knows your name, but it gets even better: This repurposed Craftsman home also sports a café, a bakery and one of the best patios in the city. The bar team, led by the creative and ambitious Cari Hah, whips up house-made syrups, oft-rotating concoctions and some of the most cheeky, fun-loving menus L.A. has ever seen. Puns, drink accessories and seasonal ingredients abound, but don’t think they can’t do classics. Just ask Hah about perfect dilution ratio for a martini and buckle up for a cocktail history lesson.

Advertising
5
Photograph: Courtesy E.R.B.
Bars, Cocktail bars

Everson Royce Bar

icon-location-pin Arts District

You enter beneath the neon sign hanging over the door—it just reads “BAR,” you can’t miss it—and the second you’re in, you’ll probably agree with the second neon you see: “My, that’s better.” Stepping into Everson Royce Bar is like heaving a sigh of relief, a hidden gem in the Arts District that feels part elegant cocktail den, part raucous patio party. Cocktails come inspired by Los Angeles—we recommend the Oaxacan old-fashioned, or the Yo LA Tengo which comes packed with mezcal, grapefruit, Aperol, ginger and lime—whether you’re hanging with friends outdoors or tucked into a dark corner inside on a date. Don’t skip the bar bites, which include some of the best biscuits and one of the best burgers in town.

6
Photograph: Courtesy Bibo Ergo Sum/Dylan + Jeni
Bars, Cocktail bars

Bibo Ergo Sum

icon-location-pin Central LA

One of the Westside’s most stylish bars launched with a three-part menu inspired by Christopher Nolan’s film The Prestige, but the menu recently flipped and the cocktails have taken their own turn, if you will. While the sections are still divided into three parts, the focus now plays fun and loose. The current menu, “Bibo Through the Ages,” places cocktails into eras of “Old Style,” “Neon” and “Present & Beyond.” Think of it as a history lesson, the Bibo way: A classic Daisy might now include Seedlip spice, absinthe and cinnamon, while a flip now involves aged rum, hopped mezcal and peach liqueur. The clarified Invisible Daiquiri is so fun, refreshing and crystal-clear, it really might have you believing it’s the drink of the future. Note that the bar also added some seriously fun bites, such as their own take on the Dodger dog, here made with pineapple chips and red onions.

Advertising
7
Bar Covell
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Bars, Wine bars

Bar Covell

icon-location-pin Los Feliz

This wine den seems traditional—tea lights, cheese boards, a draft list on the chalkboard—but ask for a menu and things take a turn. Despite offering a staggering list of 150 wines by the glass, you’re not going to find a written list to help you sort through it. Instead, owners Dustin Lancaster and Matthew Kaner devised a way to make wine recommendations based on a few simple questions about your preferences and maybe an adjective or two (think: “fruity,” “clean,” “funky”). Then, your drink-slinger is off, pouring samples and drawing in the most serious of customers until they crack a smile and get something that’s just to their liking.

8
The Wolves cocktail bar in Los Angeles
Photograph: Courtesy The Wolves
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Wolves

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

Stepping into this whimsical, ornate cocktail bar is like a trip to Paris or Victorian England. Either way, we’re certainly not in Kansas anymore. Antique lamps, sconces and scultpures dot the space, while stained glass arches form the showstopping ceiling. Of course the cocktails—made almost entirely with in-house ingredients—are also like nothing else in Los Angeles. We can all thank beverage director Kevin Lee for that. He meticulously ages barrels of amari and vermouths, painstakingly building cocktails whose components can take months to make—but take one sip and you’ll see why they’re worth the wait. Our advice? Get to the Wolves and order the funky, fermented Banana Cream with Some Herbs soon, because once the seasons change, so do the ingredients. To really impress a date, make a reservation at the new omakase-inspired cocktail experience, Le Néant, housed at the back of the bar.

Advertising
9
Roger Room
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Bars, Lounges

The Roger Room

icon-location-pin Los Angeles

You see it on the coasters, you see it atop the foam on your drink: “YES.” It’s the unofficial ethos of Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson’s high-minded cocktail bar, where it’s best to just go with the flow because everything off that order-by-the-spirit menu is going to be good. But first, you have to find it: Look for the neon “PSYCHIC” sign on La Cienega, then enter through a curtain to find a handful of seasonal tipples in addition to classics-leaning cocktails split into categories of sparkling, rum, tequila, whiskey, gin, vodka and even absinthe. The place fills up fast, so stop by early or late. It’s dimly lit and a perfect place to bring a date—or go solo and bring yourself on one.

10
Pacific Seas in Clifton's Cafeteria
Photograph: Michael Juliano
Bars, Cocktail bars

Pacific Seas

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

There are tiki bars, and then there’s Pacific Seas. Clifton’s Republic’s ode to the original pan-Polynesian extravaganza, which opened around the corner in the 1930s, is one of L.A.’s most over-the-top cocktail destinations. It’s a sight to behold, with hanging canoes, maps, masks, pufferfish lanterns and other ephemera sourced from the original Pacific Seas and other now-shuttered L.A. tiki bars, but the drinks alone are worth crossing, well, the Pacific seas to get there. You can’t go wrong with the classics—some of which use original Trader Vic’s recipes—while showy, multi-person scorpion bowls and punches served in custom-made glassware are sometimes all you’ll see on the scattered tabletops. Look out for DJ nights and hula dancers, which really get the party going.

Advertising
11
Bar Clacson
Photograph: Courtesy Bar Clacson/Eugene Lee
Bars, Cocktail bars

Bar Clacson

icon-location-pin Downtown Historic Core

Bar Clacson is what happens when the team behind 213 Hospitality opens a French- and Italian-classics cocktail hideaway in a city very much having a European moment. The nightlife heavyweight brought in an extensive amari collection, not to mention the bar group’s usual preference for no frills and no pretention, creating a laid-back spot where you’re just as likely to sidle up to the bar and hunch over a strong negroni as you are to show up with a group for spritzes and a round of pétanque (think: bocce). The $5 aperitivo hour is one of DTLA’s best happy hours, and if you change your mind and want a location that’s a little flashier, there’s always the Slipper Clutch, Bar Clacson’s highball-focused hidden pinball bar.

12
The Spare Room
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Spare Room

icon-location-pin Hollywood

It’s easy to get caught up in the mayhem of Hollywood Boulevard. But if you dodge the multiple Spider-Men posing for pics outside of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, you’ll be rewarded with spirits so startlingly refined and a setting that’s so Old Hollywood, it’s as though you’ve traveled back in time. That’s not to say that the Hollywood Roosevelt’s tucked-away bar and gaming parlor—complete with its 1800s bowling lanes—isn’t modern. The bar’s drinks scream “party,” with a focus on punch bowls and tiki-inspired spins topped with fresh fruit and purple orchids. Unwavering since its 2011 launch, the Spare Room has quickly become one of the top hidden bars of the city—or anywhere.

Still thirsty?

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Best bars by neighborhood

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

More to explore

Advertising