The Best Ways To Take Advantage of Drinking Outside in LA

Because...we can.

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Raise a glass to all your East Coast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest friends currently attempting to maintain their spirits amid frigid temperatures, severe wind chill factors, cabin fever, icy sidewalks, bulky clothes, internet outages and the other untold other horrors of what we call “real winter.”

Because these things are simply are not in your vocabulary. For you, good friend, once made a wise decision to move and/or stay in Los Angeles, where some guy just waltzed by you in shorts and a tank top holding a dog in a turtleneck sweater since the temperature is in the 70’s today. Yet again.

To celebrate this small, sunny miracle we call life in Los Angeles, we’re bucking the mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and anything else occurring beside a roaring fire to have our drinks outside today. Because we can.

So enjoy our guide to drinking outside in L.A. It’s a quick rundown on the right places to go out for a dram in the sun and the right things you need to plan an outdoor drinking party at home. Cheers, here’s sun in your eye.

Going Out

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Early to Rise

The Place: Salt, a quiet hotel restaurant in Marina del Rey majestically surrounded by the sea on all sides. The Drink: If it’s a weekday, you’ll ask for one of their 19th-century style cocktails like the Sazerac or Negroni. If it’s a weekend, you’ll consider bottomless mimosas and a roving cart with design-your-own Bloody Marys.

The Place: The Waterfront, Venice’s beachside biergarten, now reimaged as a boutique bar serving breakfast burritos and beer-steamed mussels. The Drink: The house margarita spiked with blue magick algae. So Venice. Unless it’s frosé weather. In which case... frosé.

Lunch Is Served

The Place: Salazar, the modern Mexican restaurant that’s essentially all patio and party in Frogtown. With easy access to the LA riverfront walk. The Drink: The prickly pear margarita with a tajin sugar rim. Served slushy-style, of course.

The Place: Nobu Malibu. Even if you know the sushi, you can’t anticipate all the eye-candy, be it the imported cars entering the parking lot, the famous faces at the tables or the Pacific Ocean below you. The Drink: The Peruvian Caipirinha, a refreshing drink with pisco, ginger beer, lime and shiso that nods back to the chef’s famous Peruvian influences.

Happy Hour

The Place: Filifera, a modern cocktail marvel located 22 floors above Hollywood with its own Kelly Wearstler-designed lounge and views rivaled only by the Mount Wilson Observatory. The Drink: The Hibiscus Gin & Tonic with Jamaican peppercorns will ensure your cocktail doesn’t shatter the whole summering-in-winter vibe you’re on right now.

The Place: Upstairs at the Ace, where the views and open sky are insane, the crowd is cool and the pool is... too small, but you really don’t care because they have a pool in the first place and no one is telling you to raise your lower body out of it right now. The Drink: Quench! That’s a drink mixing Pamplemousse La Croix with watermelon vodka and a tart syrup. Additional bonus for expressing the exclamation point when you order.

Nightcaps

The Place: Baltaire, the spectacular Brentwood steakhouse where the walls open up to a warm Westside breeze as it rolls its way through the outdoor patio. The Drink: Though the elegant dining room and rich ribeye steaks demand a barrel-aged Boulevardier or Old Fashioned, you’ll order the Ricky Baker with rum, egg white and bruléed banana for all its vacation-y connotations.

The Place: Perch, which looks down on all other bars in Downtown. Literally. The Drink: The Sunset Spritz, which combines tequila, sparkling wine and lime into the imbibe-able form of perfect weather.

Staying Put

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Of course one doesn’t have to go to a restaurant or bar to embrace their al fresco-alcoholic. Drinking outside extends to some incredible opportunities in L.A., like Hollywood Bowl shows, Hollywood Forever movies, Dodger Games and getting together at nearby parks or beaches where you and your kickball teammates will try to make a bottle of Pinot disappear before anyone notices your pre-gaming ritual.

But, if you have the space and want to either host friends, get romantic, or just plain ole treat yourself to an afternoon of outdoor drinking, we recommend the following:

The Crucial Equipment: You’re not trying to put Salazar out of business per se, but you would like a frozen margarita. Get a machine to keep the slush flowing.

The One-Stop Shop: Resist the urge to get your party supplies at some big name behemoth chain store. You can find all bitters, glassware, ice, wine and spirits you require at locally-owned places like Silver Lake’s Bar Keeper, The Cocktail Lab off Fairfax and Wine Expo in Santa Monica. You’ll still find the best piñata deals in Downtown, though.

The Entertainment: You probably already have your sunny day playlist permanently connected to some form of water-resistant amplification device, but now is definitely the time to go with whatever makes you happiest. Be it a classic summer tune like Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love,” or whoever last remixed it, or a kick-back album like Whitney’s "Light Upon the Lake," or Yuno’s Moodie EP. Or Rihanna or reggae or industrial psycho-go-go punk. Like we said, whatever makes you happiest.

The Recipe: Since you’re putting margaritas on your menu, you may benefit from a few different recipes to stick to, from the classic to a variation to something a bit more unusual. The following three drinks should cover all of these bases.

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The Classic

  • 2oz. Top-shelf Tequila Blanco
  • 1oz. Cointreau or Patron Citrónge
  • ¾ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • Coarse Salt
  • Lime for garnish

Place salt on a small plate. Rub halved lime on the rim of your glass and press rim into plate until salt coats the rim, then fill with ice. Combine tequila, lime juice and Cointreau/ Citrónge in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for fifteen seconds. Strain into salted glass with ice, and garnish with a lime wheel.

The Variation:

*In which mezcal lends a touch of smokiness to the above

  • 1oz. Mezcal
  • 1oz. Top-shelf Tequila Blanco
  • 1oz. Cointreau or Patron Citrónge
  • ¾ oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • Coarse Salt
  • Lime for garnish

Place salt on a small plate. Rub halved lime on the rim of your glass and press rim into plate until salt coats the rim, then fill with ice. Combine mezcal, tequila, lime juice and Cointreau/ Citrónge in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for fifteen seconds. Strain into salted glass with ice, and garnish with a lime wheel.

The Alternative:

*In case no one really wants tequila at all

  • 1 ½oz. Whiskey. Lighter styles work better than Scotch, rye or bourbons
  • 1/2oz. agave nectar
  • 1/2oz. Cointreau or Patron Citrónge
  • 1 ½oz. Lime Juice
  • Coarse Salt

Place salt on a small plate. Rub halved lime on the rim of your glass and press rim into plate until salt coats the rim, then fill with ice. Combine whiskey, lime juice and Cointreau/ Citrónge in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for fifteen seconds. Strain into salted glass with ice, and garnish with a lime wheel.

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