NIGHTLIFE
Los Angeles
> Bar Chloe
Bar Chloe is an unexpectedly upscale hideaway in beach-casual Santa Monica that manages to be at once elegant yet unaffected. Check out specialty cocktails like the ethereal Lavender Gimlet, with Distillery No. 209 Gin, lime, sugar and lavender essence, or the Sweet Ginger–Belvedere Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry, ginger syrup and fresh lime–alongside the simple-but-delicious small plates menu (think rice balls, crispy artichokes).
- Maria Vitulli

Bar Chloe, 1449 Second St., Santa Monica; 310-899-6999; barchloe.com (reviewed W&S 6/08)



> Cameo Bar
Cameo Bar at Santa Monica's swank Viceroy hotel has introduced a new bar menu that features organic and/or "green" spirits. Try elixirs like the Envious, made with organic vodka and kiwi purée, and the Cabana, made with pomegranate juice, agave nectar and 4 Copas Reposado, the first-ever certified-organic Tequila.
- Maria Vitulli

1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; 310-260-7500; viceroysantamonica.com (reviewed W&S 4/08)



> Drake's Venice
Drake's Venice is the sibling of the muy caliente hangout El Dorado in Brentwood, and the brainchild of Will Karges, the man behind LA's hottest tequila tasting menu. Here, tequila sommelier Raul Yrastorza concocts clean, refined tropical drinks, including the Drake's Margarita, made with Herradura Silver and fresh lime juice. Upstairs at the luminous rum bar, mojitos are poured with fanfare, and general manager/sommelier Jeffery Stivers (formerly of Melisse) presides over free Wednesday wine tastings. Eclectic, indeed, but like Venice itself, it works.
- Maria Di Paola

Drake's Venice, 23 Windward Ave., Venice, CA, 310-450-7055



> El Carmen
Tequila is often associated with Cancun spring breaks, but El Carmen proves that tequila is for grown-ups, too, with close to 400 different offerings. High roller? Go for the $100 shot of Cuervo Colección. Tree hugger? Try the Margarita with fresh cactus fruit purée and Herradura Silver. Not driving? Experience one of the three tequila flights, each featuring an añejo, reposado, blanco and a mezcal. Sunburn not included.
- Maria Vitulli

El Carmen, 8138 W. 3rd St,, Los Angeles; 323- 852-1552



> Falcon
Falcon, named after Rudolph Valentino's nearby mansion, Falcon Lair, has a seductiveness the silver-screen legend would enjoy. Co-owners Tommy Stoilkovich and Mike Garrett bring their Voda sense and sensuality to this plush lounge and its outdoor patio. Sip the daily Maltese (made with a different fresh fruit and spirit every day) or the smarter-sounding Einstein (Brilliant Vodka with a tequila wash), nibble on cured olives, and drink in the night air. It might inspire a seduction of your own.
- Maria Di Paola

Falcon, 7213 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA; 323-850-5350



> Gallery Bar
Gallery Bar in Los Angeles' downtown Millennium Biltmore Hotel is the place to go when you're sick of the velvet ropes of flavor-of-the month bars and clubs. The historic hotel has hosted everyone from the pilot and crew of the Graf zeppelin to the Beatles, but is a mercifully attitude-free zone when a change of scene is in order. The bar's genteel leather-and-marble setting makes it the ideal place to tuck into a hefty Scotch, and there are over a dozen worthy single-malts to choose from here. And in a refreshing change from the usual LA scene, the bartenders here are career pros who are more interested in divining an elixir for what ails you than discussing their pilot-season prospects. There's an air of relaxed conviviality amongst the visiting conventioneers, after-work legal eagles and nervous first-daters - and not a velvet rope in sight.
- Maria Vitulli Di Paola

Gallery Bar, Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 South Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA; 213-624-1011



> Gordon Ramsay
Michelin (star) man Gordon Ramsay may be known as a firebrand, but at his first West Coast venture, Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood, the vibe is cool, calm and collected. Glide up to the restaurant's elegant white marble bar and sip a signature London cocktail (Plymouth Gin, Lillet, fresh grapefruit juice and a float of Champagne) or the London Iced Tea-Tanqueray Gin infused with Earl Grey tea and fresh lemon juice. To complement the bar's sushi menu, there's also a respectable sake list, with poetic names like Yuki No Bosha, "Cabin in the Snow."
—Maria Vitulli

Gordon Ramsay at The London W. Hollywood; 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd., W. Hollywood; 310-358-778; thelondonwesthollywood.com



> Opaline
Opaline is an inviting bistro for wary oenophobes, dedicated to making selections an inclusive and informed process. Managing partner David Rosoff (formerly of Michael's) has compiled a mostly-imported list categorized into "light," "medium" and "heavy" sections. Some wines are accompanied by pithy comments, like the 1999 Pichler Grüner Veltliner Terrasen: "A monster!" Ideas such as serving certain reds slightly chilled, offering wines by the glass or in carafes, and pricing many bottles under $40, afford you the opportunity to drink outside the box.
- Maria Di Paola

Opaline, 7450 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036; (323) 857-6725



> Sidebar
Sidebar at the Regent Beverly Wilshire will dash any preconceptions that hotel bars are dark and generic. Adjacent to Cut, Wolfgang Puck's new steakhouse, Sidebar offers drinks as unconventional as the Richard Meier-designed space, featuring the Sidebar as a modern twist on the Sidecar, with Peruvian grape brandy Barsol Pisco, Cointreau and house-made sour mix ($14). "It's refreshing and bracing-a great way to start a meal," says beverage director Dana Farner. Good thing, because the full Cut menu is available at the bar.
- Maria Vitulli

Sidebar, The Regent Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-275-5200



> Xiomara
Xiomara Ardolina has managed to concoct the holy grail of Mojitos at her eponymous Xiomara restaurants- no small feat in a town as Mojito-mad as Los Angeles. She slings as many as 450 of her specialty "Mambos" on a Saturday night, all of them made with her signature fresh-pressed sugarcane juice. "It is not the traditional Mojito," the Cuban-born Ardolina points out, but an elixir born out of the sugarcane fields of Cuba, where workers would mix cane juice and rum. "They say it was an aphrodisiac," Ardolina says with a throaty laugh. Andale!
- Maria Vitulli

Xiomara Melrose, 6101 W. Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA; 323-461-0601 Xiomara Pasadena, 69 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA; 626-796-2520; xiomararestaurant.com