Sure, there’s exotic tea, caviar service and backgammon. But The Garden Bar, the Montage Beverly Hills’ ground-level lounge, is anything but stodgy. There’s a palpable sense of style from the moment guests step inside: Mid-century modern sofas, posh brass light fixtures, rich finished wood and verdant indoor palms give the former Parq Bar space a chic, contemporary vibe, like you’re visiting the swinging pad of a ‘60s socialite instead of the antiquated abode of a rich ol’ auntie. No stale, contaminated nuts here. Gratis bar food comes in the form of cubed salami and housemade potato chips; in case you weren’t aware, this is Food Network personality and New York chef-superstar Geoffrey Zakarian’s first West Coast joint, and he’s pulling out all the stops. White-jacketed bartenders craft cocktails with only the finest ingredients, which is why the going rate for a sidecar is $22 (made with top-shelf Hennessy Vsop Cognac, if it’s any consolation). You may gawk at the price, but you’ll gawk even more at the bar’s 35-page wine collection covering the globe from British Columbia to the Canary Islands. Sip your crystal glass of Italian orange wine (yes, it’s a thing) as you gaze upon the hoi polloi beyond closed glass doors. You’re so 90210 right now.
Good for: Indulging your inner Beverly Hills housewife. Grab your gal pals and get day-buzzed on wine poured via the ever-so-trendy Coravin system. Perhaps the occasion calls for Garden Prohibition “tea” service alongside a few rounds of backgammon on the terrace? Spoiler alert: There isn’t a spot of tea in that pot. Ron Zacapa 23 rum and Lustau Palo Cortado sherry make up the bulk of the beverage. How about a $19 cocktail made with Valrhona 80 percent bitter dark chocolate syrup? It just might be the most high-end chocolate martini you’ve ever had in your life. Sorry, no happy hour deals—but at least the snacks are free.
The scene: The Garden Bar has a double personality going on. By day, the gilded lounge at the Montage hotel provides Rodeo shoppers with a swank haven to rest their tired feet and shoot a dozen-or-so oysters with a side of $15 Matcha Imperial Palais des Thés from France. There’s cold-pressed juice and organic smoothies to appease the health nuts. At night, it’s a whole other story. When the lights are low and the music is Top 40, all the local pretty young things settle into love-seats, comparing cocktails and expense accounts. The dress code isn’t too formal, though—fairly casual for Beverly Hills standards.
Drink this: The best bang for your buck here is the pink-hued Prickly Pearjito ($16). It’s a refreshing blend of Bacardi rum, Zacapa 23, prickly pear puree, fresh lime, cane sugar water and mint (and it tastes like vacation). Speaking of somewhere tropical, the Barbados Sling for just a few bucks more ($19) is a stellar highball comprised of Plymouth gin, yellow chartreuse, Velvet Falernum, fresh pineapple juice, lime, Demerara sugar water and rosemary. One sip of this tiki-inspired drink (that's surprisingly void of rum) and you’re floating in the Caribbean. But if all you really want is a straightforward classic, opt for the Rat Pack Manhattan ($18), a well-balanced blend of Bulleit bourbon, Grand Marnier, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Dolin Dry vermouth and Angostura bitters. It's got just the right amount of booze to make you feel like you're on top of the world.
Our tip: This isn’t the spot to go to on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night if you want to cut loose and make new friends. The level of excitement here is never going to rise above subdued. The Garden Bar is best enjoyed after a long work day or with a hot date.