Repeal Day is December 5th, and we can only imagine that you’re gathering your crew, Expendables-style, to hit some of Southern California’s best whiskey bars. Where do you begin your malty quest? Allow us to help you out by suggesting some of these spots who know how to do whiskey right.
Beyond the fact that Puzzle has over 10 different kinds of Old Fashioneds, a major reason you’ll want to begin here is that they make their bitters, liqueurs, Amaris, cordials, vermouth, and ginger beer right there in house. This may result in a pricier cocktail but you can taste the difference as soon as you dive in. The staff knows everything you can imagine about whiskey too, so this puzzle is actually a no-brainer.
For the small plates/loungey/dancey vibe you’re looking for, hit Mesa; their shareables (especially the iron skillet mussels) go great with nearly everything, especially the Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned they’re famous for.
The Recess Room
One of Fountain Valley’s strongest (okay, maybe the strongest) gastropubs is ready and waiting for Repeal Day. In addition to their monster beer list and top-notch Build-Your-Own-Charcuterie options, The Recess Room absolutely slays it with a Whiskey/Bourbon/Scotch list that’s ready to impress. Grab any of their expertly mixed cocktails, especially the Smoke & Mirrors (butter-infused Lot 40 Whiskey, maple syrup, angostura & pecan bitters) or the Barrel Aged Improved Irish Cocktail (Powers Gold Label, Cointreau, luxardo maraschino, house orange bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters, and absinthe rinse).
The Blind Rabbit
It’s very possible you’ve stood directly in front of the Blind Rabbit in your time without even knowing it: the uber-cool speakeasy is actually hidden behind a fake wall in the Anaheim Packing District. With a killer special Repeal Day cocktail menu and an elite-level prohibition-era design, you won’t want to spend the big day anywhere else.
Somebody you know has probably told you to go to Firefly at some point. You better start listening to ‘em: they’ve got probably the best patio in the Valley, great food, and a pretty extensive scotch, whiskey, and bourbon list. Get over there and see for yourself.
If you want to drink in a building that feels like an old car, The Lincoln is your spot. They have an abundance of rockstar whiskey cocktails, and it’s pretty mandatory that you enjoy them on the patio that’s made them famous in Venice for day drinking. The Feelings Catcher — with your choice of whiskey, lemon, basil, aloe, and blackberry — is sure to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, just the way our forefathers would want.
Seven Grand / Bar Jackalope
You’ll see Seven Grand on every LA whiskey roundup for a reason: their whiskey list is absolutely gigantic. The bartenders know their stuff too, so any question you could ever have is something they’ll know the answer to. Head to the back of the bar to find Bar Jackalope, a (not so secret anymore) “secret” area devoted entirely to Japanese whiskey.
Looking to dance your brains out while you celebrate the big day? Look no further than Holiday, the dancey/clubby/loungey haven you’ve been wanting. Live music and DJs lay down the tone, but the cocktails are tasty and just what you need this holiday season (see what we did there?). They’re big fans of Knob Creek Whiskey, and, well, you should be too.
Did you know that this Loz Feliz spot — that does $1 oysters and tacos, mind you — also does excellent cocktails backed up by a strong whiskey list? Well, you do now. Tell the bartender you like whiskey, and give them free reign to make you something. You’ll be happy you did.
The Blind Donkey
Pasadena & Long Beach
Not a lot of bars ride the line between divey and classy the way The Blind Donkey does; the whiskey list is hard to beat and with music at volumes you can actually stand, it might be the best place to find that husband/wife/new best friend you’ve been searching for.
Wolf & Crane
If Japanese whiskey is your thing, Wolf & Crane is your favorite bar that you never knew about. They have a massive collection of different Japanese whiskeys, carefully crafted cocktails, and a perfect vibe (not to mention a knockout location between a hundred different great spots to eat). You’re welcome in advance.
Harvard & Stone
We’d be remiss not to include this eastside hotspot from the Houston Bros (the wizards behind Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, No Vacancy, and more), as they do one of the best old fashioneds in LA. The R&D Bar in the back is also nothing to scoff at; rotating bartenders consistently do it up with full creative license on their concoctions with themes ranging from Knocked Up to Hey Arnold to Zelda. And plus, why wouldn’t you want to celebrate Repeal Day in a bar that looks like it’s straight out of prohibition?