The 100 best dishes and drinks in Los Angeles 2016: Drinks

We needed plenty of liquid therapy this year. Here are the best cocktails, coffee and kombucha we drank in 2016.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

While 2016 may not have seen a ton of new bars opening in L.A., it was certainly a year of menu revamps and restaurant bars upping their cocktail game. A return to classics saw us enjoying martinis, old-fashioneds and daiquiris with a twist, while the popularity of culinary cocktails soared. Coffee shops turned up the oomph factor, too, with inventive drinks that warranted their $5 price tag. Take a look at our favorite drinks of 2016, then start sipping your way through the list.

RECOMMENDED: The best dishes and drinks in Los Angeles

L.A.'s best drinks of 2016

Salt & Vinegar Martini at the Spare Room

Beverage director Yael Vengroff spent two years perfecting this cocktail, made with potato vodka, dry vermouth, pickle brine and celery shrub. She takes the dirty martini to a whole other level. $15. - Danielle Jacoby

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Hollywood

Roasted banana daiquiri at Otium

Like some science experiment gone awry, the banana daiquiri at Otium bubbles and smokes (it's just dry ice!) under your nose before you take the plunge and sip on a blend of rum, lime oleo saccharum and cacao nib. $18. - Erin Kuschner

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Downtown
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Sparkling espresso at Blackwood Coffee Bar

One of L.A.'s newest coffee shops that opened this year was Blackwood Coffee Bar, a comfortable, chic space sitting at the base of Runyon Canyon. Their coffee menu is incredibly unique, but my favorite is the sparkling espresso comprised of house-made espresso shrub, sparkling water and orange zest. $4.50. - Erin Kuschner

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Hollywood

Canticle at Tribute

The unpredictable menu at Tribute, a Sherman Oaks newcomer, won’t fail to surprise. The menu’s juggernaut is the Canticle—you can smell the Hirsch Bourbon from a foot away. The similarly boozy Lucky falernum and Cynar bitter liqueur make this a high-octane blast of fruit and liquor that should be consumed slowly and with a trustworthy chaperone. $12. - Brent Giannotta

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Sherman Oaks
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Paloma at Good Housekeeping

The Paloma is a classic drink that's hard to get wrong, which makes it even more remarkable when a bar makes it exceptionally well. Good Housekeeping's menu cites a 1950s pamphlet by bartender Evan Harrison called "Cocktails of the Rio Grande,” which is supposed to be the first-ever known recipe of this delicious drink. $12. - Rozette Rago

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Highland Park

77º & Sunnie at Big Bar

Created by bar manager Cari "Sunnie" Hah, 77º & Sunnie is a vivacious, kick-in-your-mouth cocktail made with pineapple-infused Mt. Gay Rum, basil, lime and East Imperial ginger beer. The cherry on top comes in the form of a spicy ginger foam, so tangy that it'll linger in your mouth long after you've finished your first drink. $12. - Erin Kuschner

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Los Feliz
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Strawberry Solstice at Here's Looking At You

The drink menu at Here's Looking at You is home to plenty of tiki-inspired cocktails, including the Strawberry Solstice: a quaint martini made with Navy Gin, Carpano Bianco Vermouth, Winship’s Blood Orange Bitters and a pickled strawberry. It comes with a sidecar, which is perfect because you’ll wish you had another glass as soon as you finish the first one. $14. - Erin Kuschner

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Koreatown

Barbados Sling at the Garden Bar

A stellar highball comprised of Plymouth Gin, yellow chartreuse, Velvet Falernum, fresh pineapple juice, lime, Demerara sugar water and rosemary—one sip and you’re floating in the Caribbean. $19. - Danielle Jacoby

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Beverly Hills
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Rollins Shuffle at Resident

Randy Tarlow, the barman behind the cocktail menu at Resident, uses the ginger elixir from his own Liquid Alchemist range here, along with tequila, mezcal, lime juice and Ancho Reyes. The drink has a zing of spice and subtle smokiness that play together beautifully. Oh, and they keep it on tap, so you can have one in your hand in mere seconds. $12 - Brittany Martin

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Downtown Arts District

Ginger kombucha at Plant Food + Wine

Among the sparkling, rosé, red and white bottles on the menu at Plant Food + Wine in Venice, there's also plenty of kombucha. The fermented beverage comes courtesy of Kombucha Dog, made in Downtown L.A., and you’d be wise to ask for it on tap as well—I couldn’t get enough of the ginger variety. $6. - Erin Kuschner

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Venice
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Golden Herb at FIG

Sipped poolside, the Golden Herb was one of the best parts about brunch at FIG in Santa Monica this year. "You have to try it," said our waiter, and I'm so glad we did. It's made with Miramar Anejo Tequila, celery, dill and lime, and is as refreshing as the ocean breeze that blows across the pool. $14. - Erin Kuschner

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Santa Monica

Caramel sea salt latte at Rubies + Diamonds

Rubies + Diamonds is a testament to just how much can be done with coffee and tea. On a menu that includes smoked chili mocha lattes, nitro ginger ale green tea and vegan turmeric coconut lattes, the iced caramel sea salt latte is a stunner. The refreshing glass is filled with espresso, house-made caramel and textured milk, and topped with sea salt (plus, you can make it vegan!). $5. - Erin Kuschner

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Hollywood
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Smoke Oil Salt at Magnolia House

The midpoint of this cockail's menu description takes a sudden turn from standard mixed drink—lemon, thyme, rum—to what's surely a misprinted dinner selection—olive oil, chickpea, smoked sea salt. The resulting drink is a surprisingly light concoction with just a bit of savory foam on top. $13. - Michael Juliano

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Pasadena
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The Mayonka at El Dorado Bar

El Dorado’s twist on the classic old-fashioned is a beautifully balanced, stirred concoction of bourbon, apple brandy, sweet vermouth, caramel-flavored Demerara simple syrup and chocolate bitters, garnished with a lemongrass stalk and a sprig of rosemary, then lit on fire. $13. - Danielle Jacoby

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Downtown Historic Core

Crane's Demise at Margo's

It was a cold, winter night when I tried the Crane's Demise, and sipping on the cocktail made me feel like I was curled up in a cabin in Big Bear instead of on a busy street in Santa Monica. Like pumpkin pie in a glass, it's decadent enough to be considered a dessert, and features rum, organic pumpkin, egg and nutmeg. $13. - Erin Kuschner

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Santa Monica
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