It was late on thursday and the streets were dark. We entered Cole's French Dip and walked to the back. We entered through a slightly ajar dark wood door. The door had only a little martini glass drawing on it to signify, this is it, we are about to enter The Varnish.
As so we entered. The place was dimly lit. Dark wood lining the walls, the bar, the tables with booths. We were greeted by a tall young gentleman who was definitely easy on the eyes. He told us we would have to wait for an available table but it should not be more than 5 min. So we stood at the bar taking everything in. The atmosphere was amazing. Very relaxed feeling with the feeling that a small jazz band should be in the corner.
Then we were taken to our booth. We took a look at the menu and got the feeling that the cocktail was back. The menu had about 8 drinks and one of the choices was the bartenders choice. So we ordered, all four of us, off the menu, I getting the bartenders choice.
It did take a while for us to get our drinks, but again we were there the third day they were open. But once we got them, I feel in love with everyone of them. They gave me a brown derby, with lemon and honey. The flavors were so distinct but melded together in harmony, each giving away to the other. My friends Hot Buttered Rum was definitely buttery, with a warm rum center. I have never tasted anything like it. It was a party in my mouth. The mint julep had a distinctive center on the mint. Its cooling nature worked well with heating nature of the alcohol. It was superb, if you like your mint.
We only had one round of drinks due to the time it took them to make our order, but I still LOVED the Varnish. I have previously been to Milk and Honey, their semi counterpart in NYC and fell in love with it over there. So once I had heard they were opening, I had to go right away. So now its my favorite bar in LA. Hopefully I will go back this weekend. But now I know as Jonathan Gold has just written, the cocktail era is here, and I could not be happier!
18 E. 6th St
Downtown LA, CA
Jonathan Gold's Article on The Varnish