photo by Emily Hart Roth
On a leafy street not far from Santa Monica’s boardwalk, Esters Wine Shop & Bar leads a kind of double life. By day it’s a retail space with bottles to take away, by night a wine bar, selling wines off its shelves, as well as barrel-aged cocktails and cheese plates. It’s curated by Kathryn Weil Coker, who thought up the place while training for the LA Marathon in 2013. Her running partner, Josh Loeb, was redeveloping an art deco telephone building for his company, the Rustic Canyon restaurant group, and asked if she had a project in mind. “When I first saw the room I remember gasping,” says Coker. “It was so dramatic.” At the center of the high-ceilinged, airy space she’s placed a tall bar echoing the deco sentiments of the building; the retail shelves orbit the perimeter. “I like wines that are clean and classic,” she says, “that really represent a place,” which at present means a lot of Burgundy, Loire whites, California pinot noir and grower Champagne. Off-the-shelf corkage is $15, making this a destination for wine-savvy Santa Monicans—or L-Aliens—looking for an economical night out.