Sometimes when we hit the town after a long day at work or an excruciating crawl through traffic, no mere ordinary cocktail will do the trick. For those nights when you’re in need of something a little more potent, we’ve sought out the booziest cocktails in Los Angeles that will give you a bit more more bang (er, booze) for your buck. And while you can usually convince most bartenders to fix you a Long Island Iced Tea or some other classic hooch-heavy mix—even if some might roll their eyes—we tracked down some very spirited cocktails that add a creative and fun twist that you won’t find elsewhere. Just be sure to bring along a designated driver, use your favorite ride-hailing service, take public transit or do some good old fashioned walking, as these drinks are sure to pack a wallop.
L.A.'s booziest cocktails
From Wabi Venice in Venice
The recently redesigned Wabi on Abbot Kinney is the perfect spot to escape the bustle of shoppers on the trendy street, while also enjoying some creative cocktails paired with sushi and other Japanese-fare. If you’re in need of a spirituous drink that packs a punch yet still manages a subdued floral balance, go for the Adios Tokyo, a name play on the classic booze baths of Tokyo Tea and Adios Motherfu**er, two well-known drinks that will get you well-sauced. The electric pink concoction features a lengthy mix of Gem&Bolt mezcal, Medlock Ames Verjus made from unfermented young grapes, Mahia Fig liqueur, soju, Macchu pisco, Calvados apple brandy, coconut rum with a house made Meyer lemon, blackberry and sage syrup. Don’t let the drink’s color and the garnish of a flower and blackberries fool you, this is a strong one. Plus, Gem&Bolt is a new mezcal that’s more herbaceous than smoky, and is distilled with the medicinal herb damiana, which is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac. Just sayin’.
Head to the cocktail lounge side of this underground hideaway—as opposed to the disco side, with its illuminated dance floor—where you can sip your way through a whimsical and thoughtful cocktail lineup. A little while back they debuted an artistically-minded Museum Menu inspired by innovative artists including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and the L.A. artist Ed Moses. The booziest of the drinks here is Jazz Cartography, which comes from the Basquiat section and is inspired by the creamy, rum-centric drinks of Haiti, where the artist’s father was born. In your coupe, you’ll find a mix of Sipsmith London dry gin, Siembra Metl Cupreata mezcal, Santa Theresa 1796 Rum, Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, Barbancourt rum and Pango Haitian rum, all made surprisingly smooth and sippable thanks to fresh lime and mango juice that’s been made creamy with the addition of both malic and lactic acid.
The Kitty Killer
From Speakeasy Pasadena in Pasadena
Leave it to a secretive prohibition-themed bar to serve up some seriously sneaky hooch that’s bound to get the night off to a roaring start. As the name suggests, the Kitty Killer may gently purr when you first approach, but the sippable sweetness can prove deadly if you’re too curious. A fruity blend of blueberry vodka, melon liqueur, coconut rum, peach schnapps, cranberry and pineapple juice topped with a twist of lime, this one is even garnished with a flower and fresh berries, which only adds to its deceptively boozy allure. Be warned, this cat has claws.
From Mezcalero in Downtown
This welcome new mezcal and tequila-centric addition to the Downtown bar scene not only has a lengthy selection of those spirits, but also plenty of cleverly-named creative cocktails with market fresh ingredients. If you’re looking for an intoxicating, yet well-balanced option, go for the excellently-dubbed Oaxaca Shame. Served straight up in a coupe, the cocktail features a unique roasted corn-infused mezcal, Hendricks gin, dry vermouth, creme de violette and hojo santo leaf tincture (made with an herb from Mexico and Central American that hints of anise, eucalyptus and black pepper). Let’s just hope the cocktail’s name doesn’t hint at how the rest of your evening goes.
You can bet the oldest tiki bar in L.A. pours some seriously fortified tipples, many of which will be stronger than your average nightcap. And those well-versed in the tiki repertoire will know that the Zombie is a stupefying classic that could really leave you drooling. Here, you could opt for the 1934 Zombie developed by tiki legend Don the Beachcomber, but the Old Skool Zombie is an original Tonga Hut drink that you won’t find elsewhere. Inspired by the Zombie variations popular in the 1950s, the cocktail contains four ounces of booze, including four kinds of rum, plus apricot brandy, passion fruit, pineapple and lemon juices and bitters. It’s a formidable beverage.
A Western-themed bar in the middle of Hollywood might not be your usual choice for a wild night out, but if you’re looking to put a bit of giddy-up in your boots, this is a good place to do it. The Outpost’s specialty drink menu consists of plenty of strong options, but the Outpost Punch ranks as one of the booziest with a blend of coconut rum, spiced rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, sour mix, grenadine and a float of dark rum. But to really maximize the booze-factor, you’ll want to ask for yours in in a giant 32oz bucket, rather than the usual 12oz mason jar.
If you’ve had the pleasure of squeezing into the family-run, tchotchke-festooned Tiki Ti, you’ll know that pretty much every drink on the lengthy menu is excessively boozy. Consisting of a blend of multiple rums or other liquors, along with fruit juices and tiki secrets, they’re roughly the equivalent of having at least two regular drinks elsewhere. But if you’re truly in search of the most potent potion here, let us direct you to the Stealth, the strongest of the bunch, which consists of healthy pours of Kahlua, Baileys, Grand Marnier, amaretto, 151 rum and just a touch of milk. It’s a sneaky and smooth blend that would pair well with a roaring fireplace and a long nap.
This New Orleans-inspired bar brings a generous splash of Bourbon Street to Hollywood with a porch that’s perfect for cutting loose. You can opt for updated spins on boozy frozen daiquiris like the “Call an Uber” or bottled cocktails like the classic Hurricane or housemade Zima. But if you’re looking for a full-tilt cajun boogie to share with a friend, order up the Swamp Water, a vibrant blue mix of Ketel One vodka, Nolet's gin, Hornitos tequila, Cruzan Aged rum, Curacao, fresh pineapple, lime juice, lemon juice and the citrusy Top Hat Daisy syrup. It’s all served in a very Instagrammable pineapple. And for an extra kick, be sure to eat the slice of pineapple garnish, as it’s been soaked in coconut flavored Stillhouse moonshine whiskey. To keep from floating away, you’ll probably want to order some Southern comfort fare from the kitchen courtesy of Bastard Son, a new concept from Downtown’s Poppy and Rose team.
Should you want to feel like a rowdy tourist in your own town, this kitschy, trailer park-inspired slice of Americana is where you can let your mullet down. Boozy deals abound, like the list of 50 shot options for $5 each plus $3 Buds, but the trailer park party really gets underway when you order the Texas Tea, a Southern variation of a Long Island, which features whiskey, vodka, rum, triple sec, sour mix, lime juice and a mere splash of Coke. It’s a strong concoction that doesn’t try hard to mask the fact that you’re pretty much drinking straight alcohol. And while you could order it in a boring 12oz cup, to get the full experience you’ll want to order it in the 32oz “Party Pail”—essentially a beach toy bucket of booze with multiple colorful straws for sharing. It’s an option available for several other cocktails here, but with the Texas Tea you might actually need the help.
When you descend the three steps into this dive-y den of karaoke, you’ll likely want a bit of liquid courage to get up on stage. And while the lengthy drink menu features more than 70 strong, monkey-themed cocktails, the Tokyo Monkey is the one that’s sure to inspire you to belt out a tune. Served in a highball glass, the cocktail is loaded with Absolut vodka, Tanqueray gin, Cruzan rum, Patrón tequila, sweet and sour mix and Midori for that unmistakable green hue and melon flavor that dangerously masks the rest of the booze.