Imagine a place where bar patios never close. Where Friday happy hour is always al fresco. Where la dolce vita is a perpetual state of mind. Perhaps America’s closest counterpart to the Veneto’s social beach scene and luxurious, lazy afternoons, Los Angeles is a city whose currency is bound up with its endless summer vibes.
Aperitivo in Italy has its own distinct melody, a quiet rhythm that has been established and whittled into an almost sacred sunset ritual over the course of a century. It’s the murmur of late afternoon conversation, the unscrewing of an Aperol cap, the fizz of prosecco and the contented sighs that coincide with a day’s work done.
If Italy is the spiritual home of the spritz, L.A. has built its own altar to Italian life, beginning with a fervent devotion to the Aperol Spritz and its incumbent pleasures. At the likes of Bar Clacson, an industrial-modern oasis in the middle of Downtown, happy hour sees Spritzes lined up and built by the dozen. Matching the Italian affinity for aperitivo snacks, Clacson also specializes in abundant meat and cheese boards, prosciutto pops (black pepper grissini swaddled in silky slices of Italian ham) and salty bites like mixed olives, marinated zamarano cheese and roasted almonds. As the sun wanes, a mix of neighborhood regulars and curious Westsiders flow through the airy space balancing Spritzes while they roll bocce balls down the sandy lane that lines the side of the bar.
A neighborhood whose nightlife options are ever-expanding, Downtown hotels are gaining a reputation as the Eastside’s answer to happy hour meet-up spots. At the new NoMad hotel, housed in the former Bank of Italy, the luxurious rooftop takes the post-work drink hour to new heights. With a full bar and impeccable poolside service, summer Fridays can start with cold Champagne, classic Aperol Spritzes, crispy fried chicken and stunning views. The newly refurbished Hotel Figueroa’s rooftop restaurant, Veranda, pairs wood-fired food with warm-weather cocktails for a rustic California take on aperitivo hour: the Aperol Spritz meets grilled shellfish and suckling pig flatbreads.
Down the block, Terroni rings in each evening with an excellent happy hour that hews more closely to Italian tradition. Aperol Spritzes, fried calamari and paper cones piled with cheese- and ragu-stuffed arancini are marched out of the kitchen and spread beneath a wild red chandelier designed to look like the Autodrome Nazionale Monza, the home of the Italian Grand Prix.
But the Venice of America is where the summer Friday attitude—and a deep commitment to golden hour activities—aptly pervades every sun-soaked establishment, often extending it from brunch through nightfall. Inside a lagoon-blue stucco building along Abbott-Kinney lives Neighbor, where Aperol Spritzes are ordered all day long, paired with ultra-fluffy buttermilk pancakes, a dry-aged burger or delicate, lemony diver scallops. Further down the beach’s most iconic boulevard is Rose Café, a favorite Venice haunt from the ‘70s that has been updated for Instagram. The restaurant’s iconic bloom mural remains, and it’s slowly ingratiated itself among locals and destination diners alike. Farmers market salads, housemade pastries, pizzas and a smattering of other very California dishes are accompanied by sparkling sangria, icy cold brews and Aperol Spritzes from brunch onwards.
From Eastside to Westside, L.A. has intuitively embraced the easygoing attitude of la dolce vita and the orange-hued cocktail that’s become its signifier. It’s likely that no matter where golden hour kicks off—poolside bar, hotel rooftop, neighborhood watering hole—a brigade of sunset-colored spritzes will be paraded out and into the hands of thirsty Angelinos, eager to be transported.
Bar Clacson | 351 S. Broadway
The scene: Neighborhood bar meets Franco-Italian pub. Chill vibes in a hyped neighborhood with a seven-day-a-week happy hour (5-7 p.m. with $5 cocktails, beer and wine).
Go for: The Aperol Spritz, the bocce and all of the salty, delicious snacks.
NoMad Rooftop | 649 S. Olive
The scene: Cosmopolitan Angelinos, including the creative freelance set, wrapping up the workday and transitioning into off-hours.
Go for: The views, the spectacular cocktails, the delicious (if pricey) finger foods.
Veranda at Hotel Figueroa | 939 S. Figueroa St., Suite 500
The scene: A lush rooftop oasis populated with chic hotel guests, Downtown dinner dates and after-work meet-ups.
Go for: The beautiful pergola-like perch, wood-fired bites and refreshing cocktail.
Terroni | 802 S. Spring St. (Downtown)
The scene: Downtown, the scene is date night vibes mixed with happy hour crowds.
Go for: Early evening cocktail bites, pizzas and a Spritz.
Neighbor | 1031 Abbott Kinney Blvd., Venice
The scene: The Instagram-chic Venice crowd you’d expect plus low-key locals whose jobs encourage/permit sitting in a coffee shop at all hours.
Go for: The classic Aperol Spritz. The pancakes. The people watching.
Rose Café | 220 Rose Ave., Venice
The scene: There’s a lot going on here, from a market and coffee counter to an all-day crowd that goes from long lunch into cocktail hour into full-on dinner service. Come at any hour and you’ll see what the Venice lifestyle is about.
Go for: What are you in the mood for? Aperol Spritzes are always on offer. An ideal spot for brunch or a late afternoon cocktail meeting.