The best Venice bars
Upon crossing the Lincoln’s threshold, you immediately find yourself in an enclosed open-air patio, where industrial light fixtures hang over reclaimed wood tables dotted with ubiquitous succulents. The post-industrial theme continues inside, where designer Matt Winter’s (Melrose Umbrella Company, Power House) creative hand is evident in the seamless incorporation of modern elements and warm vintage aesthetic. With whiskey, house-made B&B, lemon, cinnamon honey and earl grey tea, the aptly named Grandpa Cal’s Old Tyme Cure-All is the menu’s unanimous winner, but the cocktail list here is on point and not too pricey (all cocktails are $12). Every Tuesday there's an all-vinyl DJ set from 7pm to close, but if you’re more of a weekend drinker, make sure you get in on their Sunday BBQs, which are perfect on the patio.
Venice Ale House is as California as they come—organic food, local craft beer and a view that looks out onto the Pacific. It's an Instagram dream waiting to happen, but you shouldn't spend your time here glued to your phone. You’ll find more than 25 beers on tap, with even more in bottles, as well as a full liquor cabinet for all your harder needs (it also has kombucha on tap). The fully-organic food menu is not to be skipped either; there are drinking staples like burgers and fries, or more upscale dishes like bruschetta and seared scallops. Order at the bar when the patio is packed (and it probably will be), and watch the sunset for a very L.A. outing.
Famously one of Jim Morrison’s favorite Venice haunts, Hinano has earned a reputation as one of L.A.’s best dive bars. Completely unpretentious and genuine, no day spent at the Hinano is a wasted one. They open bright and early at 8am, so you can jumpstart said great day. Though they have an extensive food menu—you'll definitely want to try the classic-style sesame seed-bunned burger as many people consider it to be the best in all of L.A.—the place is really a bar: note the sawdusted floors, pool tables, jukebox and minimal seating. Expect colorful regulars, frequent live music and a couple TVs for game-watching. The place only serves beer and wine and is cash only, so leave your credit cards and hard liquor hankerings at home.
If you're on the Westside, you don't have to drive all the way to the Arts District to enjoy Wurstküche thanks to the Venice location. The German and Belgian beer list here is gigantic—try the notoriously tart Duchesse de Bourgogne or sweet Aventinus Eisbock that packs a punch—and with the communal tables you’re sure to make a few new friends. You won’t want to leave without trying the rattlesnake and rabbit sausage, which is spicy, snappy and not the least bit gamey. Grab some friends and post up outside in the sunshine.
At first glance, this might look like your standard dive, but step inside and take a closer look—there are hundreds of bottles of whiskey cluttering the shelves and an impressive, ever-changing line-up of craft brews on tap, from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Cocoa Mole to Firestone Double DBA. Grab a bottle or glass, then head to the next door room for a game of pool.
Beachside rooftops are in surprisingly short supply in L.A., making this an in-demand spot for sun-kissed Venice Beach locals who occasionally help the place live up to its name. Even if you’re staying at Hotel Erwin, where the lounge is located, be sure to make a reservation. After all, there’s nothing like a multi-hued sunset over the Pacific with a cocktail in hand to get Angelenos buzzing. Getting chilly? Evening bar-goers can stay past sundown wrapped up in one of the bar’s cozy blankets and a spiked cocoa or hot root float. Start your staycation with a piñacoco sangria with a spiced rum float or passion fruit mojito. If you don’t like your drinks sweet, stick to local craft brews to pair with midnight (gourmet) munchies like mini lobster roll and a bacon, cream cheese, jalapeño hot dog.
Once a dive bar, the Brig underwent a successful facelift a few years ago. The pool table and the solid jukebox remain as reminders of its seedier past, and the stainless steel fittings are a little less lustrous these days. Still, it remains sleek, although the Brig is more a happy-hour neighborhood hangout. The Brig truly has one of those vibes that fits any scenario, so it’s always a trusty choice at the start or finish of any great Venice crawl.
When you’re a Michelin Starred chef, the obvious move is to open a high-profile restaurant that’s nearly impossible to get into. That’s not the case here, as Antonio Muré decided to lend his talents to a wine bar only a few blocks from the ocean. Skip the hassle of what you’d expect from a bar of this caliber, and head in for some drinks and outstanding small plates. His tuna tartare is a necessity, as are the handmade pastas and top-notch cured meats.
Located at the heart of Venice at Windward Avenie and Pacific—literally right underneath the historic Venice sign—this is the sister to the Venice Ale House. This spot keeps with that same tradition of bringing local organic food paired with craft beers, California wines and infused fresh cocktails. We recommend coming at happy hour for the $8 margaritas and mojitos and $5 house beer.
Located smack dab on the pier, Venice Whaler hosts rowdy sports events, karaoke nights, stand-up comedy, live DJ's and a killer happy hour (Mon-Fri 4pm-10pm). With $10 NFL pitchers and a sexy crew to mix-up your favorite boozy beverage, this late-night haunt offers more than your average chicken wings.
Where to drink in Santa Monica
Venice's neighbor to the north also has some great bars to grab a drink at.