Just in time for this week's Golden State of Cocktails, a new cocktail bar has opened in Koreatown. The Normandie Club soft opened on Monday.
The new bar, a partnership between Alex Day, David Kaplan and Devon Tarby of Proprietors LLC, with Cedd Moses and Eric Needleman of 213 Nightlife, was designed to have the comfortable feeling of a neighborhood bar, serving innovative versions of classic cocktails.
This bar is the third project by both Proprietors LLC and 213 Nightlife, who also created 151 in New York and Honeycut in downtown Los Angeles together. Inhabiting the same building as the newly renovated Hotel Normandie, their 6th Street location, on the same block as the recently opened Le Comptoir and Cassell's Hamburgers, joins the growing Koreatown bar and restaurant scene.
The space, which was designed by Ricki Kline and Kellie Patry, features brown leather-topped stools flanking a curved dark wood bar. Behind the bar, the white painted brick wall provides a backdrop for an extensive spirits collection and a 12-bottle optics rack for dispensing precise shots of their favorites.
Brass lighting fixtures make the warm room glow with the large clear bulbs. Several dark, rounded intimate leather booths fill the section of the bar that will have table service.
"This is the first place we have done that feels like a cocktail bar for the neighborhood," said Kaplan. "To us, it feels like a hotel bar. We want to be at any time, any occasion type of place, but with a particular focus on exacting cocktails at the highest level that we can offer them."
Day and Tarby have narrowed the menu down to cocktail categories that they can customize to feature their favorite spirits and ingredients with a small menu that changes often. The drinks are listed as basic categories: spritz, daiquiri, collins, bloody Mary, martini, Old Fashioned and Manhattan.
Their interpretations of classic cocktails provide the foundation of the menu that also offers wine, beer and additional drink options based on a single spirit exploration.
"It's a much more contemporary look; an idea of it as opposed to doing a 50-cocktail list," said Kaplan. "This is more come in, find your cocktail, have that dialogue quickly, and enjoy it."
In the opening menu, their Old Fashioned recipe features coconut bourbon, apple brandy, spiced almond demerara sugar and Angostura bitters. Their spritz will be available by the glass and pitcher combining blanc vermouth, cucumber water, Douglas Fir eau de vie, clarified lime juice, mint and fizz. The martini showcases Day and Tarby's new love affair with vodka adding fino sherry, raw white honey and sel gris.
"We got very excited about vodka as an interesting vessel for subtlety," said Day. The Normandie Club has a lab kitchen in the back with equipment that helps them clarify juice, extract ingredient flavors and experiment with techniques.
With cars whizzing by outside on the busy 6th Street, the discussion of place — specifically, being in the middle of Koreatown — comes up over and over again. The Normandie Club's General Manager Daniel Eun grew up in Koreatown and has worked stints managing PDT in New York as well as The Varnish and Honeycut in Los Angeles.
The bar area can accommodate about 65-70 people and will be run much like Death & Co in New York. To accommodate the guests, if the bar is full, the staff will take names and send a text message or call when there's space available.
The Normandie Club is currently in soft open and expecting to transition into full service soon, adding even more cocktail culture to this thriving Los Angeles community.