Lock & Key

Bars , Cocktail bars Koreatown
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(2 user reviews)
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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Balled-Up at Lock & Key
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Old Money at Lock & Key
Photo courtesy Lock & Key
Shady Schemes and Daisy B. at Lock & Key
Photo courtesy Lock & Key
BG (Butter Garlic) Fries at Lock & Key
Photo courtesy Lock & Key
Deep fried PB&J at Lock & Key
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Lock & Key
Photo courtesy Lock & Key
Lock & Key
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Lock & Key
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Lock & Key
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Lollipop chicken wings at Lock & Key

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Deep fried PB&J at Lock & Key

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Angry Bird at Lock & Key

Following in the speakeasy trend set by the likes of the Varnish and La Descarga, this Koreatown lounge—a low-ceiling, white marble and green-leather banquettes set the "Caesars Club" vibe, perhaps a nod to the former karaoke inhabitant. As expected, the entrance is unmarked: A stylish red door leads to a theatrically disorienting wall of doorknobs and keyholes. Once inside, there’s a small selection of beer and wine—four bottled beers (IPA, Lager, Brown Ale, Triple) and six wines by-the-glass (bubbly, white, rose and red)—but the cocktail program is front and center. Fresh herbs, fruits, simple syrups and torches set the stage for well-made, craft cocktails prepared by attentive and friendly bartenders donning classic white collared shirts and black vests. There’s a limited late-night, food menu from the next door Stall 239—try the Lollipop Chicken Wings ($7) and not-so-date-friendly garlic fries ($3).


Good for: Sipping craft cocktails amongst a celeb contingent, thanks to co-owner/actor Hill Harper.

The scene: Weeknights offer more of a "Sinatra" vibe, which we take to mean there’s “No one in the place." The focus is entirely on the art of mixology and serious aficionados can indulge in well-made drinks. Weekends offer a completely different experience with an undoubtedly Koreatown contingent of the young, attractive and well-dressed—dress code is enforced—crowd into banquettes. When the bar gets slammed, an abridged cocktail list replaces the 11 signature cocktails normally on offer and DJs turn up the music giving the place a "club" feel.

The playlist: At the will of high-minded DJs.

The bartender says: There’s an unintended surprise thanks to all the “hush, hush” mentality: An unabashed fully marbled hallway leading to wholly unmarked restrooms—choose wisely ladies and gents.

Drink this: Signature cocktails run $12 across the board. The Torpedo is a luscious taste-bomb of pear vodka, pear nectar, lemon juice, egg white, maple syrup, fresh ginger juice, black pepper and droplets of toasted sesame seed oil that add nutty complexity and a savory surprise. Balled-Up builds on homemade ginger beer with bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup and mint leaves. If you like it sweet, try the Old Money—Scotch whiskey, demerara syrup, fresh ginger juice, bitters and an orange peel.

Venue name: Lock & Key
Address: 239 S Vermont Ave
Los Angeles

Opening hours: Mon-Sat 7pm-2am
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Average User Rating

2 / 5

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Kiana G

Great day party spot! Get there early on Sundays to avoid the line for "Ice Cream Sundays".  Also the patio area gets pretty packed. But it's always good music, great drinks, and good vibes. 

Erin Kuschner

I don't totally understand Lock & Key. In theory, it could be really great. There's the whole speakeasy, secret entrance thing going on that people love, and the drinks are great. But only if you can actually get to the bar, which, after 9pm most nights, you can't. Their system behind the stick is maddening, they don't have any strategy for crowd control, and the place gets packed beyond belief. I do like that you can order from Ramen Burger next door...