Advertisement
Filters

Neighborhood

Filter

Restaurants

Price

Sort by

Showing  Places
Filters
Map
List
Cocktails and coffee, beer and cider, chocolate and wine: Where to get L.A.’s best drinks

Cocktails and coffee, beer and cider, chocolate and wine: Where to get L.A.’s best drinks

Our region’s drinking culture can express as much about the breadth of our communities as our dining landscapes. These ten bars, restaurants and shops — some newly opened, some well-established — are favorites where the atmosphere matches the excellence we find in our glasses, mugs, cups or stemware.

If you’re searching for the essential food of L.A., let our critic’s 2022 restaurant list be your guide. Find the best vegetarian, Italian, Mexican and more.

Showing  Places
Mugs of drinking chocolate, one with a skewer of toasted marshmallows resting on it, with a plate of churros
Amara Cafe’s hot chocolate choices include the marshmallow-toppeed Raymond, right, and Venezuelan drinking chocolate. Order the chocolate with churros.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Amara Cafe

Pasadena Latin American $
This is not the hot chocolate you might be used to — the kind where you pour heavily sweetened powdered cocoa mix into a mug of watery milk and stir. The Venezuelan drinking chocolate from Amara Cafe in Pasadena is smooth and thick. It coats your spoon, tongue and lips. Imagine drinking a luxurious chocolate pudding. It’s dark and aggressively bitter, like biting into a 75% cacao chocolate bar. If you want something a little sweeter, try the Raymond, crowned with toasted marshmallows that never quite sink into the drink. Nibble a little marshmallow with each sip. The best accompaniment to a hot mug of chocolate is a plate of warm, crisp churros. Yes, you should dunk them.
More Info
A tasting flight of four ciders on an outdoor table, with umbrella-shaded tables in the background
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Benny Boy Brewing

Lincoln Heights Pub $$
The biergarten at Benny Boy Brewing is a brewery and cidery with plenty of outdoor seating and a rotating roster of pop-up vendors. Cider has a long history in Europe but never quite caught on in the U.S. This place might help change that. The Pippin Straight Up is made with Newton Pippin apples and Gravenstein apples from California. It’s the driest of the ciders, with a mild apple flavor and tiny, tight bubbles that have the mouthfeel of good Champagne. For natural-wine lovers, there’s Orchard Glass apple wine. Its bitterness builds as it settles on your tongue, turning almost savory. A recent collaboration with Pali Wine Co. yielded a Chardonnay that left the taste of buttered popcorn in its wake and a light-bodied Pinot Noir with an almost bloody, rusty grape flavor. This might be my favorite new place to spend an afternoon.
More Info
Bartender Michael Worth stands behind the bar pouring a Latin Quarter cocktail at Camphor
Bartender Michael Worth pours two Latin Quarter cocktails at Camphor in the Arts District of Los Angeles.
(Wesley Lapointe / Los Angeles Times)

Camphor

Downtown L.A. Californian French Cocktails $$$
For their bistro menu, chefs Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George look to France for baseline inspiration, though modernist retooling and a canny use of spice pull dishes like beef tartare and roast chicken out of any usual sense of place or time. Owner Cyrus Batchan is also behind the swank cocktail haunt Lock & Key in Koreatown, and his investment in Camphor’s beverage program is evident. If Batchan is in the restaurant, he might tell you about his personally amassed collection of chartreuse — the herbal spirit, whose recipes purportedly total more than 100 ingredients, made by Carthusian monks since the 16th century. The flavor of green chartreuse has no one landing point: It rockets from anise to summery herbs, from sweet to bitter, and back again.
More Info
A mirror with a drinks menu written on it hangs on a wood-paneled wall in a bar.
The bar and menu at Capri Club.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Capri Club

Eagle Rock Italian Cocktails $$
When Robert Fleming reopened an almost 60-year-old space in Eagle Rock that housed the former Italian restaurant Capri, he launched what has become L.A.’s destination bar of 2022. The broadly Italian drink menu leans to spritzes and other lighter cocktails appropriate for aperitivo; Francesco Allegro, a pasta whiz at Rossoblu, consulted on a menu of nibbles that includes fried pasta. But the contrasts of mood within the bar’s microcosms accounts for much of its magnetism. On warm afternoons and evenings, the sidewalk is happy mayhem; when the patio misting system goes full blast, the world beyond it becomes a bright, watery blur. Inside, people line up to order martinis and mezcal sours directly from bartenders, while a lucky handful settle into four dimly lit leather booths along walls lined with retro wood paneling. The rest of us will gladly take the first seat we can grab.
More Info
Advertisement
Two cocktails in cut crystal glasses, one tall, one short, sit on a wooden bar.
Cocktails at the Guild Club in Costa Mesa.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The Guild Club

Costa Mesa Cocktails $$
The Cigarettes and Coffee at the Guild Club in Costa Mesa is Kathleen Turner’s raspy, sultry, circa-1984 voice in cocktail form. The combination of rye, smoke and coffee — I imagine it’s a riff on Thomas Waugh’s Coffee and Cigarettes cocktail — lulls you into an alcohol-induced calm, tinged with something nearly illicit. Strong and a tad smoky, there’s a lingering coffee aftertaste, like you’ve just kissed someone after their morning caffeine. By the third sip the atmosphere, including the “Westworld” saloon vibes of the back bar, starts to click. For more whiskey-fueled fun, there’s the Twain, a holiday-appropriate concoction of bourbon, vanilla and Angostura bitters.
More Info
A man, a woman and a small dog on barstools in a bar with wood paneling
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Kippered

Downtown L.A. Wine bars Bar Food Seafood $$
A wine bar that also specializes in top-drawer tinned seafood? Yes, please. In the spring Lydia Clarke and Reed Herrick, the couple who run the fantastic DTLA cheese stand in Grand Central Market, took over the handsome narrow space down the block previously occupied by Bernadette’s. Wine-wise, selections by the glass and bottle favor Champagne and other sparklers; there’s also a collection of beers and ciders focused on West Coast producers, including some non-alcoholic options. The list of conservas — sardines with piquillo peppers, dilled blue mussels, rockfish in sweet soy sauce — has grown to nearly 80. Look for the very L.A. smoked salmon flamed with Sichuan chili crisp, a collaboration by local companies Fishwife and Fly by Jing.
More Info
Two coffee drinks in glasses on a wooden table.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Maru Coffee

Los Feliz Coffee $$
L.A.’s coffee culture has never been more dynamic and eclectic. But as I’ve begun spending time in coffee shops again after two years of takeout, I’ve been especially drawn back to Maru. Joonmo Kim and Jacob Park founded their company in 2016; they roast a small rotation of beans and operate coffee bars in Los Feliz and downtown’s Arts District. Their stores exude minimalist calm. Maintaining such an atmosphere is particularly impressive at the always-hectic Los Feliz location, where a line usually trails down the block mornings and afternoons. Note the chart for pour-overs that triangulates flavor profiles; I favor the Ethiopia Dumerso for its stone-fruit sweetness and lemony finish. Second location at 1019 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 372-5755.
More Info
Two cocktails, a dark brown one in a rocks glass and a light blue one in a wine glass
(Annie Noelker / For The Times)

Ryla

Hermosa Beach Cocktails Japanese Californian
The You Only Live Twice at Ray Hayashi and Cynthia Hetlinger’s Hermosa Beach restaurant is one of those drinks that changes personalities as you sip it. At its base, it’s a citrus-forward take on a classic Vesper rearranged with lemon-infused Haku vodka, Roku gin and Cocchi Americano. The addition of ginjo sake softens the edges and drops of shiso oil float around the top, creating pockets of the fragrant herb essence. Halfway through, the drops expand and swirl around like the sky in Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Just as compelling is the Spirited Away, a Negroni made with Sipsmith gin, grapefruit-infused Punt e Mes and Gran Classico Bitter liqueur. The addition of a thick grapefruit peel ensures a whiff of citrus in each gulp. Head bartender Justin Kato is prone to seasonal infusions, so expect the menu to change often.
More Info
Advertisement
A teapot and two cups of tea rest on a wooden plant next to a cocktail in a glass.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Steep L.A.

Chinatown Teahouse $$
The soul of Samuel Wang and Lydia Lin’s tea shop in Chinatown’s Mandarin Plaza is arguably their gong fu cha service, a variation on a tea ceremony set created for small groups to brew a buttery, peachy oolong from Taiwan or a pu-erh that changes from woodsy to mushroomy over multiple steepings. This is not necessarily a riveting activity for the population at large (says the lonely tea fanatic). Wang and Lin have adjusted over the years, pushing the business into more of the restaurant zone with soothing variations on chicken rice and beef noodle soup. Three nights a week they host Steep After Dark, an evening pop-up held in the plaza’s courtyard featuring cocktails and snacks. A tiki-esque drink made of oolong-infused rum, mango and cream of coconut? Pu-erh tequila splashed with blackberry liqueur and lime? Suddenly everyone’s a tea fan.
More Info
Four cocktails in assorted glasses in a line
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Workshop Kitchen + Bar

Fairfax Californian Cocktails $$$
Espresso martinis have been back for a couple of years now, but to experience their peak comeback, grab a seat at the bar of Workshop Kitchen + Bar. Lead bartender Jessi Lorraine’s Cold Brew martini is boozy, with plenty of vodka and a wallop of both cold-brew concentrate and a cold-brew liqueur. Gum syrup lightly sweetens the drink and acts as a thickener. It’s the secret to the nice top layer of foam. She finishes the martini with salt and grated coffee bean for a bitter kick. It’s an espresso and alcohol punch to start or end an evening. She also rewired a better-than-the-original lemon drop, made with lemon, manzanilla, vodka and dry curaçao. Among the nonalcoholic cocktails, look for the gingergrass colada and the Tangerine Americano featuring dealcoholized vermouth and a house-made tangerine cordial.
More Info