The 10 best old-fashioneds in Los Angeles

Is there a classier way to end the night than with an old-fashioned in hand? We scoured the city for LA's best versions.
Old Forester Old Fashioned at Seven Grand
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Old Forester Old Fashioned at Seven Grand
By Erin Kuschner and Time Out contributors |
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The old-fashioned may have reached its peak in popularity—thanks, Mad Men—but Los Angeles is still rife with the whiskey drink, a staple in any good cocktail bar. Some make it with bourbon, some with rye, and even a few with brandy, but whatever your preference, there's an old-fashioned variation out there for you. We scoured whiskey bars, dive bars and LA institutions to find the all-around best old-fashioneds in the city. All you have to do is make like Don Draper and pick one. 

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to cocktails in Los Angeles 

Where to find the best old-fashioned cocktails in LA

cole's
Photograph: Courtesy Cole's
Restaurants, Sandwich shops

Old-Fashioned at Cole's

icon-location-pin Skid Row

Cole's has sat in the same Downtown location since 1908, when it opened its doors as the city's first public house inside the Pacific Electric railway station. Though the main reason people flock here is for the French dip, the eatery is just as famous for their old-fashioned. A hand-cut ice cube is surrounded by bourbon, Angostura bitters and a sugar cube, and topped off with a Luxardo cherry and both a lemon and orange peel.

Old Fashioned at The Varnish
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Bars, Cocktail bars

Old-Fashioned at the Varnish

icon-location-pin Skid Row

In the back of Cole's sits the Varnish, marked solely by the etching of a cocktail on the door. Throughout the years, this dimly lit bar has managed to become the bastion of this city's drinking culture. The most popular drink at the Varnish is, by far, the old-fashioned, a classic cocktail in a classic setting. Bourbon, Angostura bitters, a sugar cube and a splash of club soda is poured over a block of ice, to be enjoyed slowly in the surrounds of LA's most revered bar.

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The Corner Door
Photograph: Erin Kuschner
Restaurants, American

Old-Fashioned at the Corner Door

icon-location-pin Culver City

The Corner Door is a cozy culinary and cocktail retreat where exposed red brick meets dark wood paneling under Edison-approved lighting, and the drinks and bites are reliable and flavorful. Beau du Bois heads up the beverage program, which features craft cocktail specials as well as a set list of classics, including an outstanding old-fashioned. If you like yours on the sweeter side, you'll want to opt for the bourbon version; for a more peppery, dry take, choose rye as your base. The best part? If you come during R&D night on Sundays, the old-fashioned is a mere $6.

New Old Fashioned at Resident
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Bars, Cocktail bars

New Fashioned at Resident

icon-location-pin Downtown Arts District

From the street, there’s nothing to suggest anything remotely exciting could exist beyond Resident's abandoned warehouse facade. But through the side gate, a twinkle-lit, cacti-peppered patio buzzes with 300 or so Downtown denizens. The drinks are as funky as the setting, including Resident's take on an old-fashioned called the New Fashioned. Old Forrester bourbon, Corbin Sweet Potato liqueur, brown sugar and toasted pecan bitters are pre-batched, letting all those great flavors sit and mingle. The resulting flavor is like Thanksgiving in your mouth—more savory than sweet, and strong as hell. 

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Clubs

Old-Fashioned at Thirsty Crow

icon-location-pin Silver Lake

Once you get past the doorman at Thirsty Crow, you might notice a stuffed dusty crow mascot perched in the rafters. But what should really catch your eye is the whiskey selection: 100+ whiskeys and 60+ small batch bourbons are on display behind a horseshoe-shaped bar. The only natural thing to do? Order an old-fashioned, made with bourbon, bitters, sugar and orange zest. Just be sure to come during Thirsty Crow's incredible happy hour—Mon-Fri 5-8pm, Sat-Sun 2-8pm—when old-fashioneds and a few other classic drinks are available for $5.

Old Forester Old Fashioned at Seven Grand
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Bars, Lounges

Old-Fashioned at Seven Grand

icon-location-pin Downtown Financial District

Opened in 2007, Seven Grand is neither a newcomer nor a perennial of Downtown LA’s bar scene, but it certainly could pass for the latter. Arguably the city’s premiere destination for whiskey lovers, its atmosphere is of another era, and the best way to fit in is to keep it classic. If you’re not sipping on a single malt or a small batch bourbon, the obvious order here is an old-fashioned. There are a few whiskey options to incorporate into your drink, from Old Forester to Four Roses Seven Grand Single Barrel—a bourbon exclusive to Seven Grand; sip it slowly while you're waiting for your turn at pool. 

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Old Man Bar at Hatchet Hall
Photograph: Courtesy Hatchet Hall
Bars, Cocktail bars

Weller at Old Man Bar

icon-location-pin Culver City

With a quirky name and a low-key location, Old Man Bar may not immediately make its way onto your radar. The dark room at the back of Hatchet Hall is home to mounted taxidermy and a fireplace, dark wood booths and a bar full of whiskey. Further proof that it is truly an old man bar: an entire section of the menu dedicated to Old Fashioneds. You can stay safe and go with the classic, but why not try one of the other nine options made with tequila or rum or mezcal? If that sounds a little too out-there, the Weller is a superb choice, made with W.L. Weller special reserve bourbon, demerara sugar and Angostura bitters. It's smooth, sophisticated and best enjoyed next to a crackling fireplace.

Bar Toni's
Photograph: Victor Leung
Bars, Cocktail bars

Old-Fashioned at BarToni's

icon-location-pin North Hollywood

Inside this tiny restaurant bar (BarToni's is adjacent to Little Toni's, an Italian staple in North Hollywood), a mix of inventive and classic cocktails are offered in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. It can be a place to go a little crazy with your drink—would you like a Grasshopper or a Pink Squirrel with your pizza?—but it's also a solid spot for an old-fashioned. Choose from house bourbon or rye whiskey, mixed with sugar and Angostura bitters.

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Bars, Cocktail bars

Summer Old-Fashioned at Harvard & Stone

icon-location-pin Los Feliz

Don't let this Ivy-League named bar, with its vintage lights and ski lodge den in dusty rebellion, deceive you into thinking it's a place for the aspiring E.E. Cummings or next Norman Mailer. The draw here is live music—mostly blues and rock 'n' roll—and an R&D bar in the back where patrons can sample a nightly curated list of bespoke cocktails designed by a rotating brigade of mixologists. If your heart is set on an old-fashioned, though, they make some fantastic variations here (as well as a stellar original). The Summer Old Fashioned uses whiskey, cynar, Giffard Banane (a banana liquor) and coffee extract; a previous take, the Gold Fashioned, mixed bourbon, Jamaican rum, crème de banane and mole bitters.

Oldfield's Old Fashioned
Photograph: Courtesy Oldfield's
Bars, Cocktail bars

Old-Fashioned at Oldfields Liquor Room

icon-location-pin Palms

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 was later buried in the neighborhood. For all the excitement in Barney's life, Oldfield’s offers a subdued, neighborhood-bar experience with French bistro barstools and white tiles. It's hard to imagine not ordering an old-fashioned here. Come for their fantastic happy hour (5-9pm), and mark your calendars for Tax Day, when all old-fashioneds are a single dollar.

How to make an old-fashioned

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