The Spare Room opened in 2011, a swanky hotel bar from Med Abrous and Marc Rose with two lanes of bowling and an original cocktail program designed by Aidan Demarest. It has always been a place to congregate with good-looking people and never-ending bowls of punch, but this past year, the arrival of beverage director Yael Vengroff transformed it into something else entirely: a place to sip slowly, where handcrafted 'tails could push the envelope while still feeling approachable. Take Vengroff's martini, for example: the Salt & Vinegar Martini, made with potato vodka, dry vermouth, pickle brine, celery shrub and a side of potato chips. It took Vengroff two years to perfect the drink; it takes two sips to realize how utterly unique the cocktail truly is. Yes, the Spare Room is sometimes a place to be seen; yes, drinks here will run you a pretty penny. But thanks to Vengroff and her talented crew, the Spare Room is having a bona fide moment in LA's current cocktail climate. Don't let it pass you by.
It was a night worth raising a glass to—and man, we raised a lot of glasses. Time Out LA honored an incredible group of bars and bartenders at our very first Bar Awards on May 23, held at the stunning Theatre at Ace Hotel. But coming up with the categories and nominees was no easy to ask; to help us assemble a killer lineup, we put together a knowledgeable group of industry pros, from beverage directors to drink bloggers to distillery owners. After spirited discussions, nominations and voting, we narrowed in on seven bars that are making an impression on LA's thriving cocktail culture. Without further ado, here are the winners of the 2016 Time Out Los Angeles Bar Awards.
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