As is the case with all 1933 Group bars, stepping inside Harlowe is a little like going back in time. At this West Hollywood spot, it's to the golden era of Hollywood, where an old soda fountain replaces pop with booze. The floor is French Moroccan tile, the beer taps are custom, the steel stools are repurposed, and everything is bathed in a sepia glow from the vintage light fixtures overhead. Portraits of ladies you won't recognize and a slew of turn-of-the-century knickknacks are meant to spark conversation. It's the sort of thing the team behind Sassafras and Oldfield's has down pat—that, and a solid post-prohibition drink program. Slick-haired mixologists in seersucker aprons serve Sazeracs in bottles and Old Fashioneds on draft, so find your seat in the roomy joint and stay awhile.
Good for: A local spot to unwind on a weeknight with friends. Unlike most bars in West Hollywood, Harlowe has managed to avoid being overrun with crowds—at least for now. The homey watering hole offers plenty of seating, with an ample outdoor patio for larger groups. Want to impress your new boo? Grab a marble-top table and flirt over candlelight with a few bottled G&Ts featuring housemade tonic.
The scene: It's easy to miss the old-fashioned edifice plopped along a quiet stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, but that's the way Harlowe's patrons like it. You'll find less nightclubbers and more locals at this cozy and dim-lit lounge. Yes, there's plenty of red lips and tight dresses, but the music is turned low and the drinks are prepared slow, so guests keep fairly quiet and to themselves.
The playlist: The old-timey vibe isn't just aesthetic. The music (if you can even hear it) is big band and '30s jazz, and only amplifies the bar interior's vintage charm.
Bartender says: Forget cocktails made to order: Harlowe has mastered the art of pre-made classics. And if you're skeptical, you shouldn't be. Bottled libations, ranging from the G&T (gin & tonic) to the Pisco Punch are all $12, and use fresh-squeezed juices, in-house infusions, homemade shrubs and fresh seasonal ingredients from the Culver City Farmers Market. The result is accelerated booze that's flavorful to boot.
Drink this: NYC's premiere cocktailian Dushan Zaric (Employees Only) has carefully crafted a number of apertif-style potations, both stirred and boozy. Perhaps the most adventurous of them all is the savory Green Acre ($14) made with Kalamata olive jus and served with a side of feta cheese. It's basically a fancy dirty martini. Imbibers with a sweet tooth should opt for the tiki-inspired Shandy Koufax ($14) with Cana Brava rum, a bitter orange amaro, pineapple syrup, fresh lemon, and the kicker—a California IPA. On Sundays, when brunch is served from 11am-3pm, the Wakey, Wakey ($14) is a solid way to start the day, with bacon-infused bourbon, maple syrup, Cynar, egg and coffee dust.