I should be thankful, then, for living in downtown Hollywood, which has always had—and now more than ever—a plethora of engaging watering holes. (One irascible local activist, a caustic Diogenes who roams around these parts in a dirty seersucker jacket instead of a barrel, sarcastically refers to the town as Alcohollywood . . . but I suspect he's just someone who can't hold his liquor.)
"Alcohollywood" (from Curbed LA)
Unlike the under-30 crowd that fills most of these places, I don't do velvet ropes, preening queues, walkie-talkie-equipped doorman, or cover charges, which effectively eliminates 85 percent of Hollywood nightlife from my consideration, making the choices that are left all the more attractive.
Favorite haunts include the remarkably attitude-free public house with the overly understated name The Bar, newish Harvard & Stone (a contender that needs to work on its anemic single malt collection), and the simply indispensable Boardner's, which can always be counted on for people-watching sans the scene.
Last night I visited Wood & Vine, a 150-seat restaurant-cum-saloon on Hollywood Boulevard that opened earlier this year. Taking over the Taft Building space formerly occupied by the leasing office for the ill-fated W Hollywood Residences next door (of which, per a recent Curbed post, only a measly 15 of 143 have sold), it's a welcome addition to the world's most famous intersection. (Whoever thought this town revolved around the corner of Hollywood and Highland was sorely deceived.)
Restaurant specialty firm Kelly Architects redid the space as a lofted two-story room. Interior designer Kenneth Brown used a lumber yard's worth of reclaimed and faux-reclaimed wood to created a toweringly dramatic bar, stylishly accoutered and fetchingly lit with a couple of fabu Mad Men–worthy midcentury sconces and other fixtures using bare-filament Edison-style bulbs. The mood is dark, sexy, and ripe for romance—over retro cocktails, natch.
A spacious patio in the rear has a fireplace, bare-bulb string lights, and a view of the looming posterior of the Taft Building (not the old girl's best side) and its fluorescent office lights that gives the entire place a kind of noirish Naked City vibe. Eventually, I'm told, movies will be projected against the side of the adjacent building.
The upstairs sports windows overlooking the boulevard but shaded from the glare of the Kliegs and passers-by by slatted wooden blinds, making it the perfect place for Jake Gittes to take a meeting with Evelyn Mulwray without being counter-detected.
And check out those floors.
Pull up a stool, doll. Drinks are on me.