Welcome to the Little Easy, where live jazz plays in a charming French colonial courtyard dappled with chandelier light. As you sip Sazerac between bites of catfish po’ boys, you just might forget where you are—which, by the way, is inside the basement of Downtown's century-old Alexandria Hotel. Thanks to a Disney-esque design—the centerpiece being an indoor patio complete with fountain, wrought-iron fence and distressed shutters—dive bar queen Vee Delgadillo (Bar 107, The Down & Out) has transformed the Gorbals space into an antebellum straight out of NOLA’s Garden District. All kitsch aside (yes, there are times you might feel as though you are dining at Disneyland's Blue Bayou), authentic Cajun fare by Mississippi-born chef Brian Garrigues paired with expertly crafted libations give The Little Easy some real down-South cred. For Angelenos in need of a little hospitality and deep-fried solace, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
Good for: Satisfying a New Orleans itch. Bring a date and pretend like the two of you have jetted off to Mardi Gras. Dark corners and cozy worn-in sofas abound in the back “patio;” meanwhile, the French Quarter hotel lobby-inspired front room makes for superb after-work drinks. They take their swills seriously here, but that’s to be expected of a watering hole named after what many consider the birthplace of the cocktail. We’re talking iconic gems whipped up to perfection—from the deceitfully boozy NOLA native Vieux Carre ($12) to the aromatic 127-year-old Ramos Gin Fizz ($12). Make sure to save room for some of the best shrimp and grits ($13) outside of Louisiana—and, what the hell, you might as well throw in the beignets with chocolate lavender sauce ($7) while you’re at it.
The scene: Toeing the line between neighborhood bar and craft cocktail haven, The Little Easy feels exclusive without being pretentious. Its Southern charm goes beyond decor: these bartenders are some of the friendliest you’ll ever encounter in LA. As far as atmosphere, don’t expect a New Orleans level of rowdiness. The thoroughly laid-back vibe makes this Historic Core hideaway a top choice for a tamer night out.
The playlist: Talented four- and five-piece ensembles perform traditional jazz and blues throughout the evening. The best part: listening is free. The acoustics and mood lighting make for a great show.
Bartender says: Authenticity is a priority. The Little Easy goes as far as to import the bread they use for their po’ boys, and the barkeeps know their New Orleans drink history like the back of their hand. On our visit, we learned from a gal named Fro that the Sazerac, the granddaddy of all cocktails, was covertly branded as medicine back in the day by a Creole apothecary named Antoine Amedie Peychaud, whom you may know for his bitters.
Drink this: Surprise, surprise: The house specialty cocktail is a Sazerac ($12), a potent mix of rye whiskey, absinthe and bitters. If you've had a Sazerac before, The Little Easy makes one of the best in town. If you haven't, you're in for a real treat (one that will likely get you drunk quickly). Another classic to add to your tab is the Ramos Gin Fizz ($12), a funky blend of gin, orange-flower water, lemon and lime juices, cream and egg whites that goes down all too easy. Question everything you’ve ever known about the Hurricane and order The Little Easy version ($12)—a combo of light and dark rums, passion fruit puree and orange juice, with a Pama float. Not only is it not blue (cool your jets), it’s also not sickeningly sweet. Craft cocktail connoisseurs, rejoice!