The Blind Donkey

Bars, Cocktail bars Pasadena
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 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Blind Donkey
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Blind Donkey
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Blind Donkey
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Blind Donkey
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Whiskey flight at Blind Donkey
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Butler's Old Fashioned at Blind Donkey
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Beer at Blind Donkey
 (Photograph: Jakob N. Layman)
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman
Burger with triple-fried French fries at Blind Donkey

The bar's name pays homage to the bygone donkeys—blindfolded, as not to get spooked—that churned old mills that crushed grains for making whiskey. And that’s what you’ll find at the Blind Donkey: 100+ whiskeys from America, Scotland, Ireland and Canada. Brought to you by Ryan Sweeney (the Surly Goat, Verdugo Bar, Little Bear) and John Bower, the Pasadena gastropub—there’s a menu of delicious eats like BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar, onion ring–stacked Cowboy Burger ($10) and fried pickles ($7)—is where whiskey lovers and beer geeks can saddle up to the bar. (Thanks to Sweeney, one of LA’s beer gurus, there are ten local craft beers on tap.) And what whiskey cocktail is better than an Old Fashioned? The house version, the Butler’s Old Fashioned ($10), is on the sweeter side with chunks of local, homemade jam, which we could do without.



Good for: Discovering a new favorite slice of amber heaven—don’t order the same damn whiskey; instead go for something out of your comfort zone and taste some brown you’re unlikely to spend big green on.

The scene: 20s, 30s and 40-somethings congregate in groups around communal tables, games (shuffleboard, chess, arcade) and two television sets for some sports intake. While the bar, the newest addition to Old Town’s sleepy bar scene, sees a healthy after-work crowd at happy hour (Mon-Fri 4-7pm Mon-Fri and weekends 1-5pm) for $4 beers and certain well drinks and empties around 10pm.

The playlist: An undercurrent of mellow background music filters in and sometimes you recognize The Beatles, Lou Reed or the Zombies.

The bartender says: Grab a glass of Hudson Manhattan Rye, where $13 gets you an ounce and $22 gets you 2 ounces.

Drink this: What’s better than a glass of whiskey? A flight—start off with the Jet Setter flight ($13) of George Dickel Barrel Select (Tennessee), Nikka Pure Malt 12-year (Japan) and Ardbeg 10-year (Scotland).

By: Jonathan Cristaldi


Venue name: The Blind Donkey
Address: 53 E Union St
Los Angeles
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 4pm-2am; Sat, Sun 1pm-2am
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Average User Rating

5 / 5

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There is something about the Blind Donkey that makes me feel infinitely more cool once I head inside.  I'm not sure if its just the aesthetics or the speakeasy vibe that it gives off but I love it.  They have more whiskey choices than you can shake a stick at and these guys and gals know their stuff, always willing to offer recommendations as well as a little history about what it is that your drinking!  And the food department (in my opinion) is Old Town's best kept secret.  The burgers, fries, and wraps are all delicious!  And they are an amazing deal for the location, as well as the amount of food your getting.  Sometimes I just stop by for the food on my lunch breaks and everyone is jealous at work once they smell those fries pass by!


Best place around to sip some liquid amber. Best whiskey selection around and barkeeps know their stuff if you need a recommendation. Little noisy sometimes but good vibe. Packed as the night progresses. Food is ok but minimal, but you are not coming here to eat are you?