Where to Drink in Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of those cities that many of us have traveled to. Whether it be that you have a layover on your way to another place (Australia!), you are there for work or maybe just a cheeky weekend away. It is a city that oftentimes we pop into for only a few days and in those few days, we want to maximise our time. The thing with LA is that it’s a BIG city and with its size, you need to pick and choose just what areas of the city you are going to spend your time in. On our most recent trip to the city of Angels, (so Josh could go to the last SLAYER show ever) we had one night to check out cocktail bars so we had to choose the neighbourhood we would be visiting wisely. We settled on Downtown LA because of its variety of bars and their relatively close proximity to one another. Here is where to drink in Downtown LA.

Broken Shaker at Freehand LA | Bartender Atlas

Broken Shaker at Freehand LA (416 W 8th St, Los Angeles)
We happened to be in LA on the coldest weekend they had all year, but when a bar is this fun, the cold doesn’t affect you so much. This rooftop bar has amazing views from the inside of the Los Angeles skyline, which is something you never really think about. The drinks here are all at once thoughtful, creative and fun. The people behind the bar seem genuinely interested in their guests and what brought them to this bar. Overall a really refreshing bar.


DAMA Fashion District Restaurant & Bar | Bartender Atlas

DAMA Fashion District Restaurant & Bar (612 E 11th St, Los Angeles)
Our friend Mitch Bushell recommended that we eat here if we were gonna be downtown and WOW do we owe him! This Spanish and Latin inspired restaurant was beautiful. Besides the food being perfect, the drinks here are mostly slight twists on classics and lean toward Spanish and Central American ingredients. Can’t say enough good stuff about Dama.


Seven Grand | Bartender Atlas

Seven Grand (515 W 7th St 2nd floor)
We are, let’s say, a decade into what better known publications have called The Cocktail Renaissance. There is something reassuring about walking into a bar that you know got in on it from the beginning. Seven Grand is one of those bars. Clearly designed to bring back the mood of a pre-prohibition bar but before every city had 20 of these bars. The whisk(e)y list here is extensive and impressive and the drinks are consistently and quickly made. There is a secret bar in the back but the main room has everything you need.


Wolf & Crane Bar | Bartender Atlas

Wolf & Crane Bar (366 E 2nd Street, Los Angeles)
Hip Hop and Soul music at exactly the right volume, basketball on the one TV in the bar (but only when the game is live) and a wide selection of Japanese Whisky. If you have never been in the mood to go into this bar, I don’t know that we could be friends. Nothing too high minded but a cocktail and spirits menu that lets you know they care. We could have stayed here all night.

Here & Now | Bartender Atlas

Here & Now (300 S Santa Fe Ave Ste N, Los Angeles)
We visited Here & Now because Taylor Cloyes has been killing it with her Maestra Cocktail in the Bacardi Legacy competition. She wasn’t working on the night we visited but we had the drink anyway. Cool insight into how they do things at Here & Now. The Maestra cocktail, while designed by one of their bartenders for a specific competition really fit in well with the rest of the list and the vibe of the room. Simple enough drinks balanced perfectly to creative flavours from the combinations of the ingredients involved. Also this room is really pretty (I feel like all the bars we went to looked really nice) and the staff are lightning quick but always smiling.

Jessica Blaine Smith
Co-creator at Bartender Atlas
Jess co-created Bartender Atlas with her bartender husband Josh Lindley. She has worked as a full-time freelance photographer for the past two decades. Her photography focuses on lifestyle portraits, food & drink photography and corporate portraits and events She recently photographed Evelyn Chick's For the Love of Cocktails book. While not a bartender herself, she definitely loves a strong stirred cocktail, preferably one that is brown and/or smokey. Jess is a proud ambassador of her home city of Toronto.
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