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Broken Shaker bar at Freehand hotel
Photograph: Stephanie BreijoBroken Shaker

The best Downtown Los Angeles bars for perfect cocktails and quality dives

Downtown’s become one of the city’s biggest and best drinking destinations, with dozens of bars to choose from

Written by
Erin Kuschner
,
Stephanie Breijo
&
Time Out editors
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By now, even the most Downtown-averse Angelenos have figured out that the neighborhood is one of the most exciting in L.A.—especially when it comes to drinking. As skyscrapers and loft apartments have shot up, an increase in outstanding restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries and museums have, too, making it a veritable destination, no matter how much you hate the traffic. With all of that innovation came a whole lot of watering holes, from perfectly dark dive bars to upscale cocktail establishments and beer bars. There’s a welcoming place to imbibe on almost every corner, and we found the very best of them for prime drinking—now, who’s thirsty?

Before you start sipping, a brief note: All of these bars are currently open in some form (we’ve removed some of our temporarily-closed favorites, like the NoMad and the Varnish, for the time being). But these days are strange days for the service industry and some might only be offering takeout service or limited menus. Call or look online to check menus and availability before stopping by.

RECOMMENDED: See more in our guide to Downtown Los Angeles

The 11 best bars open in Downtown L.A.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown Arts District
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The concrete exterior of this Arts District haunt seems intentionally nondescript. A neon sign above the door reads “BAR”—while the small plaque beside it, “everson royce bar, est. 2015,” verifies the spot’s identity. Inside, E.R.B. is bustling and bright, and a spacious patio out back offers ample seating for drinking, dining and stargazing year round. There’s a lengthy spirits list, but we always prefer E.R.B.’s spirits mixed into concoctions like the Boss Bitch, made with vodka, ginger, lemon, honey, tumeric and cinnamon-coconut foam. If you’re feeling peckish, you’re in luck: E.R.B. whips up some of the city’s best bar bites, too, such as the legendary, deceptively simple Single Burger, and the flaky, craveable, perfectly salty buttermilk biscuits that would impress even the most Southern of grandmas. You can currently enjoy food and drinks on the patio, or get your cocktails and eats to-go with pickup and delivery.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown Arts District

Open for pickup and delivery only.

Don’t be alarmed to spot throngs of cool kids standing outside the old auto repair shop on Hewitt. They’re usually here for some of the best live shows in the Arts District, or one of the best patios in the neighborhood. That, or the fantastic, funky drinks. Or maybe the chile verde potatoes served from a cart in the courtyard. Whatever the case, there’s a lot to love about Resident, which feels almost like you’ve been plucked from L.A.’s now-chic warehouse district and into the heart of Austin. You can’t make the most of that patio now, as it’s currently closed, nor the great bar food from KTCHN DTLA, but you can find Resident's killer cocktails (and bottle-shop offerings) for pickup and delivery. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Downtown Financial District

Open for pickup only.

Arguably the city’s premier destination for whiskey lovers, Seven Grand’s 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. From the fox hunt wallpaper to an abundance of taxidermy, Seven Grand’s sultry interior is crammed with all the character of a midcentury gentleman’s club. 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 usually runs eight items deep and features only a fraction of Seven Grand’s staggering selection. For Japanese whiskey fans, Bar Jackalope (a hidden cocktail lounge in back of Seven Grand) is equally as impressive.

Both Seven Grand and Bar Jackalope are closed for onsite drinking, but they’re offering regular at-home virtual whiskey tastings, where you can order to-go tasting kits tailored to each virtual event. Simply follow the pickup instructions (usually curbside at nearby sandwich shop E Stretto), head home and let the whiskey and the experts do the talking.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 2 of 4
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Enter this neighborhood spot in the Arts District and feel right at home thanks to both a comfortable setting and the bar’s focus on Los Angeles. The cocktail menu takes a page from our city’s history books, gaining inspiration from eras of L.A.’s founding, while big leather booths indoors and an outdoor patio help us settle in in record time. (The tropical concoctions, classics done right, and tasting flights don’t hurt, either.) If all of those sips have you feeling peckish, the food selection is full of comforting classics. (All-day breakfast burrito or a messy, gooey, cheese-topped burger, anyone?) Currently you can sip and dine on the patio or order your drinks and meals to-go—but come on, if you’re leaving, you might miss events such as live music outside.

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  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Downtown
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With views and tropical vibes galore, the Freehand hotel’s Broken Shaker is a vibrant and spicy take on the Broken Shaker family. Not to be outdone by its Miami, Chicago and NYC counterparts, L.A.’s outpost allows you to cool off with eclectic and colorful drinks—with some equally eclectic and colorful garnishes—and street-food-inspired dishes. As of now you need to make a reservation for the bar before dropping by, but the planning is well worth it; you’ll be sipping frozen Campari concoctions and some guava-and-coconut-and-mezcal tipples in no time.

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Downtown
  • price 1 of 4

Open for pickup only.

Modern Times Beer’s L.A. taproom falls somewhere between a café, a vegan gastropub and a 1980s wonderland. Decorated with vintage Beta-tape cases, comic strips and colorful piñatas, the Dankness Dojo sets the mood for fun—which is perfect because that’s exactly what the eccentric and exciting beers they brew are. Known as the San Diego brewery’s experimental hub, it’s a taproom that features the best of Modern Times, plus its L.A.-only funky beers, and a full coffee bar, an all-vegan pub menu and even vegan pastries baked in-house.

On-site drinking is currently off-limits, but online you can order beer, the occasional food, and merch for pickup online, including crowlers, bags of coffee, four-packs, limited releases, canned cold brew, tees and even retro-inspired face masks.

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  • Bars
  • Downtown Historic Core
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Open for pickup only.

Bernadette’s is the party bar Downtown needed. With palm-frond wallpaper, vintage kitsch and brightly-hued boozie slushies normally brimming to the top of branded glasses, it’s a retro-inspired near-dive that’s just plain fun. Bernadette’s doesn’t get snobby—it’s all about beer and wine here, even when it comes to the cocktails, which are creative and wine- and beer-based—nor does it judge. Signs and practices around the bar make it known that this is an inclusive space for genderqueer and nonconforming guests, which is A-OK in our book.

The slushie machines have stopped spinning for the time being, but while Bernadette’s is on a proper-bar hiatus, it’s flipped to a bottle shop packed with indie beers, bottles of wine, cider, sherry and vermouth, aperitifs, pantry items, Bernadette’s-branded apparel and glassware and more, so stop by and take a look.

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Little Tokyo

Open for off-site pickup only.

Wolf & Crane never seems to disappoint and always serves up quick, uncomplicated drinks from an alcove tucked into Little Tokyo. You won’t get sneered at for ordering a Johnnie Red and soda because there are other highballs on the menu just like it, not to mention inventive-but-comforting cocktails like the Mt. Fuji, made with rye, cognac, rosemary and apple and lemon. It’s a casual, no-frills kind of place with communal tables, comic-book wallpaper and classic oldies bellowing from the sound system—perfect for when you’ve already had ramen from Shin-Sen-Gumi around the corner and are looking for a nightcap—when it’s normally open.

The bar itself is currently closed, but thanks to a collaborative takeout window in Echo Park (located at 1538 Sunset Blvd), you can order some of Wolf & Crane’s biggest cocktail hits to-go for delivery or pickup, not to mention a few bar bites such as Furikake fries and a chicken katsu sandwich.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Park
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Open for pool guests only.

No, you’re not at a poolside retreat in the Spanish Riviera—you’re in the heart of Downtown, sitting just a block from the Staples Center, but you’d never know it at Rick’s. Hotel Figueroa is home to a handful of bars, all with their own unique menus, but it’s the stylish poolside bar that we gravitate toward. With frozen cocktails, plus micheladas, tiki-leaning concoctions and Cuban-style beers—perfect for sipping on the tiled patio overlooking the whole pool scene—it’s like a mini getaway right under your nose.

While the bar is more or less on hiatus, currently that getaway and Rick’s are available to pool guests on the weekends (you’ll be able to book pool day passes at the end of September via Resort Pass) as well as for private events, plus weddings that host 25 people and under.

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Downtown Fashion District
  • price 2 of 4
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When you want a view and a smooth drink, you head to Pilot. The Hoxton Hotel’s rooftop restaurant of the same name also sports a chic outdoor bar on the other side of the pool, and it offers some of the best views in Downtown. There’s dreamy resort fare (oysters, prawn cocktails, fresh pastas, paella for two), but the staycation vibes extend to the cocktails as well, where options such as the signature Honeybear on Holiday involves tequila, sherry, apricot liqueur, and cumin-infused honey. Not into drinking alfresco? Pilot currently also offers a full bar menu to-go.

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  • Bars
  • Tapas bars
  • South Park

Open for pickup only.

Tucked at the bottom of a towering condominium just blocks from Staples Center, this cozily modern Argentine bar-café merges Downtown sleek with old-world charm. An easy-going staff, house-made empanadas and sangria on tap succeed in transporting visitors to a corner café on a cobblestone street off the tourist beat. Perfect for a post-work nosh or pre-game tipple, the libations are fairly cheap, with drinks running $6 to $14. We’re usually all about the stone fruit sangria, which contains rosé wine and sits for two hours before being served, or the Yerba Brava, a refresher of lemon, honey and yerba-mate–infused vodka.

You can now get Barcito’s on-tap wines—plus bottled cocktails, beers, bottles of wine, empanadas, sandwiches, charcuterie, spice rubs and bags of coffee—all online for pickup thanks to the temporary pivot to Barcito Bodega.

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