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Los Angeles Nightlife

4356 W. Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 665 6810

This Moroccan-themed bar on the border of Hollywood and Silver Lake attracts a mixed crowd of casually dressed gays and straights. Often supercrowded, it can get downright suffocating on weekends. There's a great jukebox, with everything from '90s rock to Frank Sinatra, comfortable seating in the lounge behind the bar, and very stiff drinks. Regular themed party nights include Craft Night, where art supplies are provided for people to carve pumpkins, make finger puppets, and color outside the lines while getting soused.

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1735 N. Vine Street
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 462 1307

Bardot is a swank bar/courtyard/tented lounge done up with old-school oil paintings, crystal chandeliers, and plenty of cozy conversation nooks. Start in the low-lit bar area, a golden-hued lounge with tufted banquettes and mosaic mirrors, before making your way to the always packed dance floor, where a mix of club kids and young Hollywood (Jessica Alba, Natalie Portman, and Paris Hilton have been spotted here, to name a few) bump elbows—and other assorted body parts—to a high-energy mix of Motown, electro, and indie beats. Downstairs is a crimson-tented patio where a rotating mix of live acts—burlesque dancers, jazz musicians, indie darlings—take the stage for intimate, salon-scale performances. For the best seat in the house, spring for bottle service (a mere $400!) at one of the patio tables. Bardot is certainly a scene, and the door can be tough, but unlike other insider-y spots around town, the vibe inside is surprisingly laid-back. Best bet for easy access? Make reservations for a late small-plates dinner then stay on for the show.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Saturdays 10 pm to 2 am.

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Catalina Jazz Club
6725 W. Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 466 2210

This dinner club is L.A.'s premier spot for big-name jazz—in the past, the diverse list has included Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Betty Carter, and Tony Williams. Now in a newer space that's bigger than the cramped original spot, the club can seat 250 and the larger stage can accommodate bigger groups. The vibe is grown-up—think of an elegant supper club with tablecloths on round tables. The acts are the center of attention.

Chez Jay
1657 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica , California
Tel: 310 395 1741

This 45-year-old bar and steak 'n' seafood joint right next to the Third Street Promenade is an institution. The place hasn't changed much since Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen used to drop in; the decor, with its red-and-white overhead awnings, red vinyl booths, and a wooden ship's wheel, is still maritime-funky; peanut shells still crunch underfoot as you walk across the floor. The vibe is completely laid-back, which is why everyone from failed screenwriters to A-listers (Sean Penn, Julia Roberts) still considers it a favorite hangout.

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The Colony
1743 N. Cahuenga Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 525 2450

Colony has an indoor-outdoor scene that aims to bring the Hamptons to Hollywood with a spiffed-up nautical vibe. Decor includes wood-plank floors, hammocks, and even a boat-shaped swing hanging from the ceiling. For hassle-free entry, arrive early (that means 10ish) to stake out your space on the cabana-style seating. After an alcoholic "sushi" (Jell-O shots wrapped in rice paper) or five, it's inevitable you'll end up on the outdoor dance floor, jumping around with the young Hollywood set to a bouncy mix of house, hip-hop, and Top 40.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 10 pm to 2 am.

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East/West Lounge
8851 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 310 360 6186

A sophisticated lounge on the spot of the old Revolver, East/West has light bamboo floors and intimate seating on couches and plush chairs. The mixed drinks here use fresh ingredients (try the summery Ambrosia cocktail, made with Smirnoff watermelon vodka and wonderfully tangy guava juice). There's a members-only VIP area overlooking the activity downstairs, but the place is just as much fun for nonmembers. The crowd is predominantly gay but has a mix, and celebs like Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore have been known to drop in.

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The Edison
108 W. 2nd Street
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 213 613 2000

The Edison, an Art Deco–inspired cocktail spot housed in a revamped power plant, is what the Machine Age might have been if there were better couches back then. You can sit inside an old boiler, hang out between Frankenstein-lab-like gauges and generally feel like Edison himself amid inventive nooks and crannies. It's cavernous (in the sense that it's both big and subterranean) but there are lots of little spots within for closer encounters. Stick around for the Eddies—a lively flapper showgirl revue—on Fridays and Saturdays.

Open Wednesdays through Fridays 5 pm to 2 am, Saturdays from 6 pm to 2 am.

Formosa Cafe
7156 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 850 9050

Across the street from the former Goldwyn Studio, this boxy red bar with an ersatz Chinese interior has been a favorite drinking spot for decades. There's still an air of bygone glamour; more than 200 black-and-white photos of celebrities who've graced the place line the walls, and the bar is still used as an occasional movie location (a scene from L.A. Confidential was shot here). When an encroaching development threatened to raze Formosa a few years ago, the outcry of fans kept it from becoming a parking lot.

Frolic Room
6245 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 462 5890

This nicotine-stained serious drinker's bar sits right next door to the Pantages Theatre. Rumpled hipsters sidle up alongside old-timers and knock 'em back. If you like dives, this place is the real deal. (Isn't that Bukowski's ghost over there?)

House of Blues Sunset Strip
8430 Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 323 848 5100

Not just blues, but rock, jazz, and gospel too. This flagship of the successful chain, whose exterior has been done up like a raggedy tin shack, hosts performers ranging from reggae legend Lee "Scratch" Perry to emo-hipster James Blunt, and former Pixies frontman Frank Black to now-receding '70s hair bands like Styx. The venue itself has the usual L.A. division between hoi polloi (who stick to the Music Hall and the Porch Restaurant) and VIPs (or "Foundation members," who get to schmooze and booze in a series of swanky private rooms). Much more inclusive is the Gospel Brunch, held every Sunday, where the entry fee gets you a Southern-style brunch buffet and enough live gospel music to satisfy your soul.

La Descarga
1159 N. Western Avenue
East Hollywood
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 466 1324

With an extensive menu of rum and decor reminiscent of old Havana, this moody little bar on a sketchy block of Hollywood feels worlds away from the house-pumping megaclubs just down the street. On the weekends, feather-clad burlesque dancers juggle fire and shimmy to the beat of a Latin band. There's a dress code, so break out the fancy duds. That means no jeans for dudes and dresses for the ladies. Best of all? The place encourages reservations—a major plus if you're not up for the usual L.A. door drama.—Audrey Davidow

Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 8 pm to 2 am.

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Laurel Tavern
11938 Ventura Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 818 506 0777

What's missing from L.A. nightlife? Cozy neighborhood bars where you can chill out with good suds and decent food without having to line up behind a velvet rope. Laurel Tavern is a much-needed sweet spot that falls between divey pub and scenester club; the sheer novelty of the place has drawn more than a few Hollywoodites from over the hill to the Valley. In addition to 16 regional microbrews on draft and a great selection of old-school sodas (Bubble Up, Dad's Root Beer, Mexican Cola), this airy, exposed-brick joint has a well-equipped kitchen that turns out surprisingly good locavore grub—pork belly skewers, chorizo fondue, hand-cut fries cooked in pork fat. The ordering process is a bit chaotic: Shout what you want to a bartender, then try to score a table.

Open Mondays through Fridays 4 pm to 2 am, Saturdays and Sundays 12 pm to 2 am.

724 N. Vine Street
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 962 6369

L.A. is currently embroiled in a wine-bar love affair, and this tiny spot in a grubby strip mall—hidden away behind a curtain— is one of the best. It's definitely an "in" spot, but the feel is homey, and the wine list—which changes every few weeks—is full of surprises, even for the most knowledgeable. The food menu offers small bites, with one main course that changes nightly. Try the charcuterie plate, with its spread of artisanal cheeses, cured meats, and pâtés.

Closed Sundays.

L Scorpion
6679 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 464 3026

Don't let the fact that it's a tequila bar throw you off—this is a much more sophisticated, grown-up spot than some of its Hollywood neighbors. It's romantic and candlelit, with a red bar and more than 160 varieties of tequila, many produced only in small quantities. Don't know a reposado from a reserva? This is the place to learn. The lounge serves ceviche and tamales, among other Mexican delicacies.

McCabe's Guitar Shop
3101 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica , California
Tel: 310 828 4497

On weekends, the famed guitar shop hosts singer-songwriters from the worlds of country, folk, jazz, and rock. Many respected musicians (Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, and Elvis Costello, to name a few) have performed in this funky, modest venue, where the walls and all other available surfaces are covered with hundreds of acoustic and folk guitars, ukuleles, banjos, violins, mandolins, and dulcimers.

Music Center (Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County)
135 N. Grand Avenue
Downtown Los Angeles
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 213 972 7211

The Music Center houses the city's largest performance venues, including the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, which is the home of the Los Angeles Opera ( ), and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the base for the Los Angeles Philharmonic ( ). The Music Center also includes the Ahmanson Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum, both home stages of the Center Theatre Group.

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Roger Room
370 N. La Cienega Boulevard
West Hollywood
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 310 854 1300

The Roger Room, a dimly lit, cocktail-focused pub where the mixologists wear suspenders and fastidiously mix gourmet drinks, has become a cozy hot spot for Hollywood starlets. Behind an unmarked door in the thick of the La Cienega gridlock, this sliver of space (formerly the dingy Coronet Pub) underwent a thorough gutting and now has a yesteryear feel complete with Art Deco–style furnishings, circus-themed murals, and opaque stained-glass windows. Sure, you might spot a celeb or two, but the focus here is on the drinks—smooth, retro-feeling cocktails like the Thug (Maker's Mark, honey liqueur, lemon, and a dash of habañero-infused bitters) or the Grifter (a mojito spiked with Mata Hari absinthe). When the place first opened in 2009, sans signage, its goal was to be one of those cool underground bars that keep those in the know in, and everyone else out. But show up early enough (before 9), and the friendly bartenders will take the time to make a nobody feel like a somebody.—Audrey Davidow

Open daily 6 pm to 2 am.

The Roxy Theatre
9009 W. Sunset Boulevard
West Hollywood , California
Tel: 310 276 2222

The roster at this intimate venue features mostly up-and-coming bands, with the occasional big name, and attracts a very young crowd.

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Seven Grand
515 W. Seventh Street
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 213 614 0737

One of the handful of speakeasies breathing some much needed life into L.A.'s downtown scene, this old school–style whiskey bar with a tricked out hunting lodge motif, is a favorite happy hour hang for downtown loft-dwellers. The revamped display cases of this converted 1920s jewelry store flaunt 125 different kinds of whiskey—from small batch Tennessee bourbons to a rare, 30-year-old Macallan Scotch. Its proximity to USC means you might have to deal with a few cigar-smoking frat boys mouthing off in one of the dark leather booths, but the crowd is mostly young professionals who come in for a game of pool and the stiff drinks.

Open Mondays through Fridays 4 pm to 2 am, Saturdays and Sundays 8 pm to 2 am.

Station Hollywood
6250 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 798 1300

Angelenos now have a great place to booze without worrying about parking. At the W Hollywood hotel's outdoor Station Hollywood lounge, they can arrive via subway—it stops at the hotel's door. In this outdoor oasis of potted shrubbery and pillows, hotel guests and bar patrons cluster on couches and around fire pits, drinking updated classics and fruit extravaganzas like the Avenue of the Stars: Maker's Mark, honey, lemon, and muddled raspberry. Snacks include Latin fare (shrimp and chorizo pintxos) and good ole American steak sandwiches. Wear something snazzy to blend in with the attractive pre-dinner crowd. Still raring post-feed? Take the elevator to the W's rooftop and brave the up-tempo hoochie mama gyration at dance club Drai's.

Stone Rose Lounge & Simon LA
Sofitel Los Angeles
8555 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 310 228 6777

This huge (5,000-square-foot) new lounge from Rande Gerber in the newly renovated—and completely transformed—Sofitel hotel has plush banquettes down one wall, lots of open space, and an outdoor patio with a fire pit. Next door is the fancifully modern Simon LA, Kerry Simon's restaurant, with glass-partitioned private rooms and excellent upscale comfort food (crispy gulf shrimp with ponzu dipping sauce, meatloaf, braised short ribs). The hilarious junk food dessert tray, which comes with cotton candy, Rice Krispie bars, and caramelized popcorn—is very popular just now.

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The Tar Pit
609 La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 965 1300

Campanile owner/chef Mark Peel has hooked up with master NYC mixologist Audrey Saunders (Pegu Club) to open the Tar Pit, a posh cocktail lounge where postwar era–inspired libations, with names like the Palm Frond (mint, vermouth, and lemon-infused gin) and the Jamaican Firefly (rum, lime juice and homemade ginger beer), are served in an elegant Art Deco setting. From the piped-in piano standards to the Black Dahlia-esque servers, it all evokes L.A. supper clubs of the 1940s. Thankfully, for the over-35 set, the crowd feels older, too—it's that rare L.A. joint where elegant women and their silver-haired beaus feel right at home sipping Gin-Gin Mules over throwback dishes like Steak Diane and Shrimp Louis. The only drawback is that the cocktail prices ($12 to $17 a pop) are a potent reminder of the present.—Audrey Davidow

Open daily 5 pm to 2 am.

The Tea Room at H.wood
1738 N. Orange Avenue
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 871 2262

Trust Hollywood to take the most pedestrian of spaces and turn it into a star. That's what happened late in 2009 when a windowless storeroom inside the nightclub H.Wood, across the alley from the touristy Hollywood & Highland Center, was transformed into the Tea Room, a nightclub with "Prohibition tea," served chilled in teapots and spiked with spirits. The idea coalesces disparate cocktail trends: the speakeasy craze, the popularity of artisanal teas (one of the bar's partners owns a plantation in India), and the impulse to imbue beverages with healthful elements. Stars of yesterday (Paris Hilton) and today (Katy Perry) have been spotted at the club, which opens only on Wednesdays to a vibrant crowd of girls in minidresses and stiletto boots and guys in gold sneakers and skinny jeans.

4427 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 323 669 9381

This tiny bar is one of the inspirations for the retro tiki trend. It's family-owned and full of regulars who love to needle newcomers. There are 85 tropical cocktails to choose from, and many are concoctions you won't find anywhere else. If you can't decide between the Pain Killer (made with Pusser's rum, coconut, cinnamon, and nutmeg), a Great White Shark (made with rum, lime juice, and passion fruit), or a good old Suffering Bastard, you can always ask to spin "The Wheel" to decide your fate.

Closed Sunday–Tuesday.

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The Varnish
118 E. Sixth Street
Downtown L.A.
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 213 622 9999

You'll have to search out the Varnish, a speakeasy-style lounge hidden at the back of the L.A. institution Cole's French Dip restaurant. (The clue is the picture of a cocktail glass on its heavy oak door.) Co-owned by Sasha Petraske (of New York's Milk & Honey and Little Branch) and L.A. nightlife guru Cedd Moses, the Varnish's downtown locale and limited seating capacity (no parties larger than six) help maintain its rep as a classy boîte where cool kids of all ages come for the mellow scene. The tiny wood-paneled space—once a storage room for Cole's—has a handful of café tables and banquettes, but we suggest you grab a standing spot at the leather-padded bar, where you can watch star bartenders Eric Alperin and Marcos Tellos's meticulous (and lengthy) preparation of cocktails containing freshly squeezed juices and house-made syrups. They taste all the better for it.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays 8 pm to 2 am, Wednesdays through Fridays 7 pm to 2 am.

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7969 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 310 255 1111

If an undercurrent of sexual energy in sophisticated surroundings appeals to you in an Eyes Wide Shut kind of way, bordello-style Voyeur, in West Hollywood, will definitely provide a thrill. Sure, you'll find topless performers crawling around on an overhead trapeze net, and even the decor may be titillating (the chairs have corset backs, the draperies are black leather, and the sofas are made from banged-up bed headboards), but the vibe is one of a cool club rather than low-rent sex bar. In fact, the 6,000-square-foot space, complete with a photo booth for illicit shots and a dance floor surrounded by erotic film strips, is Tinseltown's party spot du jour—Heidi Klum hosted her Halloween bash here, and you'll find plenty of industry schmoozers and waif model types sipping on cocktails made with fresh organic juices. Should you need a break from the full-on sexiness, slink back to the VIP room, a secret hideaway with its own private bar and chaise made for lounging—or whatever else you had in mind.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays and Thursdays through Saturdays 10 pm to 2 am.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.