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The Varnish, Los Angeles, California

See the Los Angeles Guide ›
California, United States, North America
118 E. Sixth Street
Downtown L.A.
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 213 622 9999
view web site ›'s insider take:

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.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
The brainchild of Sasha Petraske, proprietor of Manhattan's cocktail-snob mecca Milk & Honey, The Varnish, a small, stripped-back space with wood benches at the back of Cole's, has brought exotic libations to L.A.'s revitalizing downtown. Smart patrons order the Bartender's Choice and wait ten minutes while the mixologist muddles his pick of fresh fruit and herbs, measures spirits and house-made syrups, and chips ice from a block. Come early for conversation (the place fills up fast and the piano player's ragtime ricochets), and pay for parking monitored by an attendant in this sometimes-dicey hood.—2010 Hot List

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