If you’re not already proud to be an American, consider this: Cocktails were invented in the United States. Traditionally, a cocktail meant a spirit, a sugar and a bitter mixed in a glass. But as sure as the little states spread out into the vast expanse of the West, cocktails grew to include all manner of mixed alcoholic beverages. In the last decade, New York may have played a large part in the classic cocktail resurgence with the opening of Pegu Club and Death & Company. But out West, L.A. bartenders have perfected artisinal cocktails with year-round fresh produce and an experimental fearlessness.

Downtown, you can’t throw a lowball glass without hitting a bar that specializes in craft cocktails using fresh ingredients. (Also, you shouldn’t be throwing lowball glasses.) Westside’s got breezy beach pubs, and L.A.’s eastern enclaves are home to plenty of reliable dive bars. Hollywood does short skirts, high heels and velvet ropes better than any other town in the nation, and the Valley is the place to go if you need to sink into a drink in a lounge without running into any of your exes.

But the beauty of Los Angeles is found in the surprises waiting in every neighborhood: the opulent speakeasies in the grittier parts of town; the laid-back elegance of Eveleigh in the middle of the Sunset Strip; a serious, spirit-driven spot called Neat tucked away in Glendale. Los Angeles both embraces and defies its own typecasting, and that’s why we love it.

About Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark

Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark are writers and best friends who, after posting their video for a jocular cocktail called the McNuggetini, went on to create more palatable beverages for both TV and the Web. Their newest Web series, “Classy Ladies with Alie & Georgia,” is on CookingChanneltv.com, and they are regular contributors to Cooking Channel's “Unique Sweets.” They're also cocktail columnists for KCET and host a new podcast called “Slumber Party with Alie & Georgia.”