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, one where hard-drinking businessmen escaped the doldrums of suburban existence and hung up their hats to drink, smoke and play pool away from the prying eyes of their wives and children. Maybe we’ve watched a little too much Mad Men, but looking around, it’s hard not to draw the parallel. From the fox hunt wallpaper to the unsettling abundance of taxidermy, Seven Grand’s sultry interior is crammed with all the character of a midcentury gentleman’s club, complete with plenty of dark corners for canoodling with one’s secretary. If you’re thinking an Old Fashioned would complete the experience, you’re correct, but you’ll have to choose one first. The Old Fashioned menu alone runs nine items deep and features only a fraction of Seven Grand’s staggering selection. It doesn’t stop at bourbon, either—the bar’s international “Wall of Whisk(e)y” boasts a collection of amber elixir so large it requires a library ladder to access, with ryes, scotch and other whiskeys from Canada and Australia to Japan, India and Taiwan.
Good for: Whiskey aficionados (and aficionados in training) who like their drinks stiff with an old school twist. The bar’s inherent masculinity lends itself to a classy DNO (Dudes Night Out), but it's also a sexy spot for a date (not with your secretary though—slow down there, Draper).
The scene: Like most bars in LA, what you get at Seven Grand entirely depends on when you visit. In the early evening, there’s your mellow happy hour crowd ($5 Manhattans until 8 pm!), casual pool players and post-work minglers. After 10 pm it gets a bit rowdier, with live jazz kicking the vibe up a notch from Sunday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday night after 10pm can be dicey both in terms of getting a game of pool in and getting served at the bar, as an unfortunate influx of aggressively douchey night bros tend to swoop in like vultures.
Drink this: It’s all about the whiskey here, and the best way to partake is to keep it classic. If you’re not sipping on a single malt or a small batch bourbon, the obvious choice is an Old Fashioned. Of the menu options, our bartender suggested the Old Forester version ($13) and the Four Roses Seven Grand Single Barrel, which at $18 is a touch pricey, but incorporates bourbon exclusive to Seven Grand. The bar is also renowned for its Sazerac ($12), a rye take on the New Orleans classic that’s smoother than most you’d order in the Big Easy. The rye Manhattan borders on perfection, with the winning trifecta of Wild Turkey 81, sweet vermouth and angostura bitters topped off with a Luxardo cherry—the only cherry worthy of being taken seriously in a cocktail, if you ask us. If you’re after something on the lighter, more refreshing side, the Improved Amaretto Sour ($13) kicks up the original with the addition of Four Roses Barrel Strength Single Barrel bourbon, while the Strawberry Cream Fizz ($11) combines Jameson and housemade strawberry cream soda for an unexpectedly tasty tipple—and, we suspect, the only thing in this bar served in a mason glass with a cute stripey straw.
Our Tip: If you plan on being a repeat customer, you can purchase your very own bottle of whiskey to enjoy on future visits. Seven Grand will put a nametag on it and keep the bottle safely locked away in one of the glass cabinets lining its back hallway, where other patrons can ogle it while they wait for their date to come out of the bathroom.