What do you get when you take a '50s diner and convert it into a French-themed cocktail bar? The answer is Silver Lake's newest and most aesthetically
ridiculous party room: The Friend Bar. With a pink tile floor, baby blue wall paneling, plants everywhere and a pinball machine at the door to greet you, the decorative theme is confusing but deliciously alluring.
Simultaneously smacking of gay bar, hospital cafeteria and a spot for 6th grade softball parties, The Friend’s identity complex is embraced by hordes of Silver Lake faithful who turn this place into a raging singles party every weekend night. The cocktail program is shaky, but the beer and wine list is on point, as are the French snacks prepared by Iron Chef alum, Eric Greenspan. Croque Monsieur, a cheese board and a Nutella banana crepe? Yes, please!
The scene: Full disclosure: the bubble gum French diner ambiance will bother some people. But gamers will find some funky charm in the modern art music posters and the disco ball. Whatever waste the decor lays to your spiritual stability, you’ll be hard pressed to find a drinking environment like this anywhere else in L.A. Beards, bangs, leather, skinny jeans and mustaches are out en masse, mixing, drinking, laughing and even swing dancing after café tables make way for a dance floor. The outfits range from tragically hip to just tragic. This is no high-intensity Hollywood lounge with industry climbers trying to out-cool each other. Neither the crowd nor the music are oppressive—they’re almost inviting.
Good for: Comfortable booths along the perimeter invite large groups, while tiny, French café tables dotting the floor invite dates and deep discussions on literature
and politics. Some of the six bar stools will still be available between 7-8pm, where you’ll have quick access to the three elegant rows of booze, bolstered by mirrors and served by cheery staff dressed in black-and-white striped shirts worn by French mimes
and 1930’s death row inmates.
Drink this: Navigate the cocktail menu with care—a handful of recipes are in need of recalibration to kill a strong hint of medicine. Luckily at least three standouts border on spectacular: The Player ($12) could be a holiday drink that you crave year-round: spiced whiskey, egg whites, lemon and orange served up and dusted with cinnamon. It can comfort any bruising your day might deliver. The Hustler ($12) is The Friend’s contribution to L.A.’s mezcal craze. It expertly blends smokiness and sweetness with vanilla, lime, agave and a kick of habanero right to the back of your mouth. The Artist ($12) is a masterful balance of Jack Daniels, honey, apple, ginger and cinnamon served on the rocks. Bring a chaperone because these go down easy.
Our tip: Arrive early to grab street parking on Hyperion that will disappear after 8:30pm. Remember the great menu of bites to enhance your drinking experience:
avocado toast, charcuterie or duck confit crepe for savory, profiteroles and Nutella crepes for sweet. Want some fresh air? A back door by the bathroom leads to a covered, outdoor area with seating, tables and kids who know how to find the coolest spots before the rest of us.