By Rachel B. Levin
November 06, 2014
Best Cocktail Lounges in Los Angeles
Credit: Manufactur Concept

From Prohibition speakeasies to 1930s tiki bars to the 1960s era of Rat Pack lounges, Los Angeles has long had a love affair with the art of the cocktail. So it's not surprising that the modern mixology revolution has swept through the city, offering serious connoisseurs the opportunity to sip drinks crafted with the care a chef might bring to a meal. Whether reviving vintage recipes or offering new twists on classics, bartenders are employing farmers’ market fruits and herbs, from-scratch syrups, premium liqueurs, and worldly influences to assemble one-of-a-kind tipples. But the city's best cocktail lounges offer a great deal more than just libations; they also create elegant settings that invite urbane fraternizing and stylish lingering. Among these five picks you'll find décor that transports you from the bayous of Georgia to the jazz clubs of Paris's Montmartre. These are civilized spots where you can leave drunken-college-kid and "meat-market" antics completely behind.

The Varnish

Hidden inside Cole's French dip restaurant, this cocktail den has a Prohibition-era feel, with dimly glowing wall sconces, flocked wallpaper, and an upright piano for live jazz sessions. The handcrafted vintage drinks, like the Monte Carlo, harken back to the early 20th century and set the standard for mixology in L.A.

The Roger Room

There's a carnivalesque theme to this convivial boîte, with neon tarot cards marking the entrance and murals of vintage circus scenes gracing the walls. But there's nothing juvenile about the craft cocktail menu, which is organized by spirit and revered by serious cocktail-philes. Try the Spiced Mule or Tijuana Brass.

Copa d'Oro

Choose your own cocktail adventure at this modern mixology haven, where the emphasis is on seasonal, organic ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Select your spirit and then add in fresh fruits, nectars, vegetables, herbs, and even jams for an unparalleled custom creation. The bar's own combinations are fab, too.

Sassafras Saloon

You might think you've stepped into a private townhouse in Savannah, Georgia, at this Southern-themed saloon…and, well, you have. The home was originally dismantled down South and then reconstructed in Hollywood, complete with vintage parlor furniture, a live Dixie band jamming on the balcony, and incredible ginger beer and barrel-aged cocktails.

Pour Vous

Jazz-age Paris is the inspiration for this sultry cocktail lair. Red velvet banquettes, fringed lamps, and a working fireplace impart a boudoir feel, and live burlesque shows add to the sex appeal. Sip champagne cocktails or order a bottle of absinthe for the table. Don't miss the trolley car out back!