Rocking a party at a white-hot nightclub is just the tip of the iceberg for Lindsay Frio, who DJs under the name Lindsay Luv. Her job might keep her up until the wee hours, but it takes plenty of hustle during the day to make it all come together. "I’m up early answering emails, managing my accounting, chasing down bills, updating my websites, downloading new music, planning photo shoots, social networking, and the list goes on," she explains.
Last year, it felt like everyone in Los Angeles finally realized the dream of opening their own bar. But nightlife being the fickle beast that it is, not all of them will last. The bars that made the most noise in 2010 will likely survive to see 2012 and beyond, but they’re not necessarily the best of the bunch. Brent Bolthouse and Guy Starkman’s Trousdale (pictured above) had a very successful year and recently paid back all its investors (a coup in under 12 months). Across the street from Trousdale on the Sunset Strip, Soho House had an equally successful 2010.
On the other side of town, Echo Park and Silver Lake saw the opening of a few new bars that made a bit of buzz, albeit of the low-key variety. The truck-stop chic of Stinkers gave way to the whiskey-soaked sophistication of The Thirsty Crow in Silver Lake, while Echo Park gained a great new cozy drinking den in 1642 bar. Los Feliz got a new wine bar, Bar Covell, which was a hit with first-daters the second it opened.
Downtown saw an explosion of new finds in 2010, the best being the simplest: Spring St. bar. Cedd Moses’ Las Perlas tempted tequila fiends while ex-Lava Lounge owner Michelle Marini opened up a smallish haunt called The Falls nearby.
Drai’s, Supperclub, Colony, and Premiere all douched up Hollywood, yet all three seem to still be doing well. Hemingway’s did better than all three of the aforementioned spots, at least in terms of drawing a fairly diverse crowd.
So what’s in store this year?
Tonight in Hollywood, The Spare Room at the Roosevelt officially debuts after hosting private holiday parties last month. The cocktail lounge features a gaming parlor and two vintage bowling lanes. Friday, David Judaken’s revamp of Opera debuts, dubbed Eden.
Beyond Hollywood, look for the Houston brothers to make noise once again with several new bars. The two had a huge hit in 2010 with the smart Havana-aping La Descarga, and the brothers will revamp the Stone Bar near Los Feliz this spring with a dive bar for those who are too hip for dive bars. Similarly, Roger Room overlords Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson are set to make a bit of low key noise with their revamp of the classic Coach & Horses on Sunset Blvd, which recently closed.
It’s been nearly a month since Hemingway’s quietly opened on Hollywood Boulevard, and already the neighborhood feels irrevocably changed for the better. Nestled beneath Cinespace in part of the old Ivar space, Johnny Zander’s new bar has been winning over West Side socialites and slinky Silver Lake stylists alike. It’s just what Hollywood needs, and represents the rare find where awkwardly pretty models and just plain awkward writers feel equally comfortable.
The literary and art-themed hang (with over 10,000 hand-selected books glued to shelves) boasts over 50 vintage typewriters affixed to a wall, tin tile ceilings, and even cocktails named after the bar’s namesake, Ernest H. This is not a nightclub, but it can feel like one late at night, with DJs spinning everything from LCD Soundsystem to your standard house thumpers. (Early evenings call for a lounge/rock playlist.) Hemingway’s has the casual embrace of beloved nearby haunts such as Teddy’s or The Bar, yet is large enough to feel like a destination club, minus the hassle or cover charge.
Yes, the theme may sound cheesy, but Zander and partners pull off the entire concept with aplomb, and all who enter are eventually won over by the simple charm of this two-room find. If the bar has a weak spot, it might be the cocktail menu, which is hit-and-miss. It can depend on who’s doing the mixing. Seek out Alex (formerly of Suite 700) if you really want your “Death in the Afternoon” made right. At $16, you also might want to consider going off-menu for more reasonably priced libations. Beers start at a reasonable $5.
Zander, a well-known name in Hollywood (and New York and Paris, for that matter), is recreating the heady early days of Hollywood’s once red-hot Green Door, minus the serious door drama. Hemingway’s does have a door policy, but it’s way lax, especially early on when just about anyone can drop by post-work and take in the ‘20s Paris-meets-Havana nights vibe. Late nights are a different story, especially on Thursdays and Fridays, when the bar is rammed after 11. At that point you’d better have reservations, know the doormen, or be Adrian Grenier if you hope to get in with a big group. Zander, a former model, is at the bar every night and keeps a watchful eye on his developing scene, which will only get busier this fall as word gets out. Zander expects to add a second, smaller bar in the front patio area (a blissful respite for smokers) where Cuban coffee will be served in addition to drinks.