The Varnish
118 East 6th Street
213 622 9999

At the back of Cole's (the French dip place) in downtown LA, through the unmarked wooden door, is this spot right on the edge of Skid Row. For hipsters who've discovered $13 Sazeracs that is. A tiny room with wooden booths and bartenders in waistcoats, this bar has no password, though it might be 'get here early'. Open from 7 to 2 nightly, it fills up quickly with the sorts of folks who just like to drink fancy concoctions. There's no dancing - come to think of it, there's no space for dancing - rather the focus is on anything that uses juniper gin or bitters or orange peel. The bartenders enjoy making their creations and you can order off the menu or put yourself in their capable hands. It might not be a real 20s speakeasy because in many ways, this is so much better. Clean and well- mannered, with fresh ingredients and a good time for all. Nothing illegal about that.


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