Editor's Note: Esther Tseng of e*starLA knows all the best bars in Los Angeles. In this series, she'll share her drinking advice. Looking for recommendations for LA-area sips? Leave your questions for Esther in the comments section below!
Dear Esther, I'm planning to visit the Walk of Fame in Hollywood. Where should I go afterward for a drink nearby? —Iwanna Touchthestars
Dear Iwanna, With all the gift shops and chain stores that line Hollywood Boulevard along the Walk of Fame, it can be daunting to try to find a place to drink, especially if you're unfamiliar with the area. But there are a few places within spitting distance of The Walk that are actually some of the city's best spots for a cocktail or a beer.
Having called the neighborhood home for three years renders me nostalgic enough to make a claim like that, but it also has enabled me the time to flesh out the kind of research only a proud resident could conduct.
Shall I lay 'em all out for you?
The Spare Room in the Roosevelt Hotel, the most westerly location on this list, is one of the historic hotel's newest additions but brandishes throwback Art Deco stylings. That there are two vintage bowling lanes furnished with made-in-LA Esquivel bowling shoes and vintage board games with wooden pieces doesn't detract from the top-notch cocktails, which change seasonally at the bar managed by Naomi Schimek. Bring a few friends and order a glorious punch bowl, which is always as beautiful as it is delicious.
Musso & Frank is a wonderful relic of Hollywood history, having perched on The Boulevard at Cherokee since 1919, when the writer's guild was just across the street. Behind the mahogany bar are bartenders who have been serving drinks here for decades. Order the martini, which comes with a sidecar, or go with another classic.
Sadie, located just south of the Boulevard on Las Palmas, has undergone many changes, but today maintains a few different personalities through their huge multi-room space with parlor, lounge area, and covered courtyard. Giovanni Martinez, Sadie's beverage director, has kept the cocktail menu eclectic, exciting and streamlined, meeting the demands of cocktail geeks and pre-gaming nightclubbers alike.
Like many of The Houston Brothers' bars, there's an initiation for guests upon entering No Vacancy that's evocative of performance art, but once inside, you'll appreciate the reappropriated interior of the century-old Victorian hotel—and the massive courtyard, with a small bar, out back. You'll find one drink each from the who's who in LA bartending on the seasonally shifting menu.
Just down the street from No Vacancy and a few steps away from the Walk of Fame is the month-old underground Dirty Laundry bar, also from the Houston Brothers. Before descending the stairs on Hudson Street, you'll need to spy their twitter account to find the name to buzz in order to get in, but an impressive cocktail menu awaits you once you enter this Prohibition-era speakeasy that once belonged to Rudolf Valentino (spirits were carted in in laundry baskets, hence the name.) There's a dance room in the back with DJ nights.
Next to The Fonda Theatre lies a pub that's well regarded among beer geeks and neighborhood revelers called the Blue Palms Brewhouse. Known for their 24 taps and (plus a cask) of expertly curated, West coast-leaning beers, Blue Palms enjoys a following loyal enough to rally for them to stay in business amidst a lease dispute a couple years ago. Visit once, and find out for yourself why: Blue Palms has great beer, great food, and great service. You'll love it even more if you happen to be a Steelers fan.
About the Author: Esther Tseng is a Los Angeles based food and cocktail writer. Her best finds are chronicled on e*starLA while her day-to-day ponderings and poisons can be found on Twitter and Instagram @estarLA. She'll try anything once.