Masks on, bottoms up: 10 places to pick up a drink in L.A.
Care for a drink?
Even in a pandemic, when so much of life has slowed to a crawl, Angelenos are caffeinating on the go with cold brews and pour-overs. But we also know how to kick back with an afternoon boba tea break or settle into the night with a glass of wine or a carryout cocktail.
As part of the year’s 101 Restaurants, Dishes, People and Ideas project, critics Patricia Escárcega and Bill Addison chose 10 of their favorite places to drink in and around L.A. Note that the 101 went to press in mid-November, before the latest disastrous round of shutdowns: Check each business’ operating hours before planning to swing by or order takeout.
Adams Wine Shop
Ruben Morancy, formerly the wine director at Coi in San Francisco, runs the new wine shop attached to Alta Adams; it shares space with the restaurant’s adjunct coffee counter. His tightly edited selection of bottles focuses on wines made by women and people of color. He’ll steer you to producers such as Theodora Lee of Anderson Valley’s Theopolis Vineyards, showcasing her food-friendly Pinot Noir and big, balanced Petite Sirah. It’s clear from the contents of the refrigerated case that Morancy loves Champagne; for a couple of celebratory glasses, pick up a half-bottle of elegant Bruno Paillard rosé première cuvée (Alice Paillard comanages the Champagne house started by her father, Bruno). — B.A.
5357 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, adamswineshop.com
It’s the age of the to-go cocktail, and the city is awash in Mason jars filled with preblended Palomas and bubbly highballs sold out of disposable plastic cups. In Echo Park, Bar Henry’s Flattened Priest is a shimmering, well-balanced, sweet-sour mezcal tamarind margarita seemingly inspired by the chile-tinged Mexican seasoning Tajín. It comes with some tamarind candy on the side, a small touch of whimsy in a year that really needed it. — P.I.E.
1228 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, barhenryla.com
Border X Brewing
The San Diego brewery, known for its Mexican-inspired interpretations of traditional beer styles, opened a soaring new taproom and 10-barrel brewing facility in Bell in 2019. Stop by for growlers of cinnamon-laced Horchata Golden Stout, the wheaty Gran Jefe and terrifically tart, jamaica-infused Blood Saison. Recently, the taproom also was stocked with Border X’s signature michelada mixers, the chile-spiked beer boosters that accessorize every Sunday game day and Mexican American brunch. — P.I.E.
4400 E. Gage Ave, Bell, borderxbrewing.com
When the line for Howlin’ Ray’s would stretch down the corridor of Chinatown’s Far East Plaza, Jack Benchakul’s storefront across the way could sometimes fade into the surroundings. Endorffeine has no fancy signage; its wall of windows reveals a sparsely decorated room. But aficionados know to seek out Benchakul, a one-man barista operation who uses his background in science to make spectacular coffee drinks. He was a molecular biologist who jumped to pastry work before devoting himself to bean ratios and optimum water filtration. Distinguishing flavors in his pour-overs (made currently with Sey Coffee out of Brooklyn) holds the same joy as pointing out constellations in the night sky. On Mondays and Wednesdays during the pandemic he takes delivery orders for his canned cold brews; the one with pandan and coconut milk is an early signature. When dining-in returns, I’m hoping he might go back to baking the pies he occasionally serves at his laboratory-bar. — B.A.
727 N. Broadway #127, Los Angeles, endorffeine.coffee
Everson Royce Bar
E.R.B. was about as prepared for safely distanced outdoor gathering as a business could be. Its backyard, filled with picnic tables and strung with lights, takes up a sizable chunk of real estate, given its Arts District location. The spirits list is biblical in length, and since Randy Clement of Silverlake Wine is one of the owners, expect dry cava and orange Gewurztraminers by the glass. The cocktails lean strong and serious, although, honestly, a frozen mango lassi spiked with vodka tasted mighty good while stress-eating biscuits … which you can order for pickup and delivery as well. — B.A.
1936 E. 7th St., Los Angeles, erbla.com
At the Culver City location of Sang Yoon’s Father’s Office trio, the Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance” plays overhead on the long outdoor deck. A couple of people at a time walk inside (masked, of course) and place their orders with the bartenders. Beyond its tony butterscotch lighting, swank Helms Bakery complex address and luxury cheeseburger that helped define the genre, this is a beer pub at heart. The list careens through all the hoppy, malty and fruit-forward possibilities; a quick chat with staff can lead to off-the-menu gems like a candy-tart cranberry sour ale from Oregon’s Cascade Brewing. A Belgian tripel syncs superbly with the burger, which is as flawless as ever. — B.A. [Note: two locations of Father’s Office were open when the 101 project went to print in mid-November; they are temporarily closed.]
3229 Helms Ave., Culver City; 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; 905 E. 2nd St., Los Angeles, fathersoffice.com
Madre Oaxacan Restaurant
Mezcal is one of the oldest cultivated spirits of the Americas, a warming, soulful, complex substance pierced through with wood smoke. Owner Ivan Vasquez and bar manager Bryant Joel Orozco of Madre Oaxacan Restaurant (with locations in Palms and Fairfax as well as the flagship in Torrance) have curated a lovely at-home mezcal tasting flight of three samples — recently it included a distinctly earthy example from famed Oaxacan producer Santa Catarina Minas — along with a glossy pamphlet with information about the producers. Spiced salt is included for your home tasting; you’ll have to provide the orange slices. — P.I.E.
1261 Cabrillo Ave, No. 100, Torrance; 10426 National Blvd., Culver City; 801 N. Fairfax Ave. No. 1, West Hollywood, madrerestaurants.com
A tall cup of thoughtfully crafted boba tea can be the most vivifying thing in the world: refreshing, creamy and more fun to consume than some adults may admit. Tea Maru, the boba shop with locations in San Gabriel and downtown L.A. (a third Irvine location is in the works), makes its own boba in-house; the ultra-fresh tapioca pearls are made in a constellation of flavors, but some people come just to try the perfectly chewy, not-too-sugary sweet potato variety. — P.I.E.
709 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel; 724 S. Spring St., Los Angeles; 6785 Quail Hill Parkway, Irvine, teamaru.us
Courtney Kaplan and Charles Namba’s Echo Park restaurant, Tsubaki, and its next-door sibling bar, Ototo, have become the informal centers of sake culture in Los Angeles. In September I ordered a takeout meal of yakitori, chicken curry katsu and some end-of-summer vegetable dishes from Tsubaki, and while picking it up I fell into sake talk with a staffer; soon I was headed home with four different cup-size servings. It felt like a lifetime since I’d had sake. Side by side, their distinct characteristics were so clear: crisp or nutty or bready or spritzy. Ototo’s website has a much larger bottle selection with brief but on-point tasting notes; both places are operating with limited hours for outdoor dining too. — B.A.
Sommelier Coly Den Haan showcases women winemakers and natural wines at her Silver Lake wine shop, which also hosts a popular Winesplaining virtual tasting series featuring vintners from around the world. The shop’s popular wine bundles — hand-picked pairings that sometimes include a book and a snack — make it easy and fun to discover new bottles. The shop recently added a contactless, walk-up “wine window” where customers can browse a menu board and purchase bottles or canned wine with the push of a button. — P.I.E.
616 N. Hoover St., Los Angeles, vino-vore.com
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