Listen — I like a fancy cocktail as much as the next broad. But the bars on this list have taken the whole “$15 drink served by a guy in a vest” concept way too far. Fortunately, they’re not the only game in town, otherwise I’d die a pauper long before I died of alcoholism. The next time a friend of yours tries to drag you to one of the spots on this list, show them a copy of your bank statement and insist on one of my (lovingly curated) alternatives.
El Prado This la-di-da, vinyl-playing joint sells flat Prosecco at $8 a glass and pays “tribute” to the area it’s gentrifying with a Spanish name. Isn’t that cute?
GO INSTEAD: Little Joy. They play vinyl, too, but they’re not dicks about it — the fact that they’ve been a neighborhood staple for years also bodes well for them. And they have pool tables!
Harvard and Stone If waiting 30 minutes in line to buy sickeningly sweet cocktails is your “thing,” you’re gonna love this place. For a place so incredibly loud and densely packed, it’s still insufferably boring.
GO INSTEAD: Tiki-Ti. Established in 1961, their cocktails are also sickeningly sweet, but are supposed to be — they’re tropical drinks, damnit! Just one’ll get you hammered. The fact that you can smoke inside makes you feel like you’re actually in the ‘60s, too.
The Edison If you’re looking to blame someone for the increasing bourgeoisification of L.A.’s bar scene, blame these guys. The original “artisanal” watering hole, they kicked off the whole speakeasy vibe most new bars have cultivated. Thanks for making it impossible to not pay $11 for a drink in this town anymore, you schmucks.
GO INSTEAD: Crane’s Bar. Hidden in an old bank vault, this underground hole-in-the-wall is vaguely artisanal without being precious. Their reasonably priced drinks pair delightfully well with the vintage arcade games they have in the back.
Library Bar FUN FACT: Each $20 cocktail sold here contains 14 ingredients and takes one calendar year to make. OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating with the time frame. But drinks do cost $20 here. And you’re not even guaranteed to get laid after buying them.
GO INSTEAD: The Virgil. They also serve drinks comprised of multiple ingredients, but have good happy hour deals and free (or cheap) comedy shows most nights.
The West Side
The Wellesbourne Want to feel like you’re stuck in a packed den surrounded by industry assholes sipping overpriced, mediocre cocktails? Check this place out. (And make sure to bring business cards!)
GO INSTEAD: Mom’s Bar. If you’re looking for a palate cleanser from the hyper bourgeoisie locales normally littering the West Side, this delightful dive with cheap drinks and liberal pours will wet your whistle without breaking the bank.
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Photo of a cocktail from Library Bar by Ron Dollete/Flickr