The Essential Guide to Drinking in Los Angeles

The PUNCH Guide to Los Angeles

drinking guide to Los Angeles illustration

Saying that Los Angeles is a single city is like saying Neapolitan is a single flavor of ice cream. Similar to the Manhattan-Brooklyn divide, LA is generally broken down to east side and west, and residents tend to take great pride in their half. To outsiders, LA has always been inextricably linked to the film industry, to images of the Hollywood sign hovering over traffic, to characters from Baywatch and Beverly Hills: 90210 gallivanting along the beach. But Angelenos know full well that there’s a lot more to this city than movies and coast. We have the best Mexican, Thai, Szechuan and Ethiopian food outside of Mexico, Thailand, China and Ethiopia. Our city is endowed with more mountains than ocean, and we do as much camping and hiking as we do sitting in traffic (or we try at least). Oh, and the drinking.

Need we remind you that this town gave birth to tiki and that the trend is still alive and well? If you’re not feeling the tropics, you can always step into a different kind of past via the bars that scream Old Hollywood, places where you can still sip dry Martinis to live piano, where the old-timey bartenders will regale you with tales of Bogart and Bukowski. And dive bars? Don’t get us started. While most American cities are busy lamenting the loss of their beloved dive bars, LA is still sprawled out enough that those cheap-ass Jack and gingers, free popcorn and jukeboxes are more protected than they are in other cities. But if old isn’t your thing, not to worry.

LA’s wine scene has proven itself to have a style all its own—from Bar Covell’s redefinition of the wine bar to quirky wine lists at restaurants like Bestia and Marvin. There’s more new than any of us can handle, particularly downtown, where the craft cocktail bars—and inimitable bar and wine programs tucked into some of the city’s best restaurants—are not to be missed. From east side to west and everything in between and surrounding, LA literally has something for everyone. From ice-cold beers to drinks on fire to alcoholic sodas to dollar specials to natural wine—if you have a hankering for it, it’s here. It’s all just a matter of finding it. –Jennifer Cacicio

Map Thumbnail for The Best Cocktail Bars in LA

The Best Craft Cocktail Bars in LA

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Map Thumbnail for The Best Places to Drink Wine in LA

The Best Places to Drink Wine in LA

It's an exciting time for wine in Los Angeles. Thanks to a growing crop of young wine talent and restaurateurs ...
Map Thumbnail for The Best Restaurant Bars in LA

The Best Restaurant Bars in LA

It might seem odd to residents of other large American cities now used to being taunted for taking cocktails out of ...
Map Thumbnail for The Best Outdoor Drinking in LA

The Best Outdoor Drinking in LA

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Map Thumbnail for A Drinking Tour of Old Hollywood

A Drinking Tour of Old Hollywood

Visitors to LA often get sucked into celeb sighting along the Santa Monica boardwalk (read: dodging rollerbladers) ...