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Like Flint, This Place Is In

The '40s-style bar and bistro is the spot for gussied-up guys, gals and martinis.

May 27, 1999|TRACY JOHNSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If any of you hipsters who made the martini scene what it is were beginning to worry that happy hour was coming to an end, listen up. There's a new joint in town that awaits your luscious lips with a rainbow of cocktails, a classy lounge just screaming for your stylish couture.

It's Flints, a new martini bar and 1940s-style bistro and restaurant in Santa Monica that opened with little fanfare in February in the same locale as the old Alligator Lounge. Owners Dodd Harris and Clive Hurwitz have turned what was once one of the Westside's most venerable music spots into one of its hippest lounges.

"We wanted to create a unique and very cool night spot," says Harris, also proprietor of the Big Easy cigar shop, who's decked out this Friday night in a suit, tie and stylish wingtips. "I had so many people at the cigar shops saying they loved the smoking room, but they hated to smoke--so I wanted a place where everyone could have a good time."

Named after the American super-spy James Coburn played in the movies "Our Man Flint" (1966) and "In Like Flint" (1967), this beautiful bar is reminiscent of a 1940s roadhouse. Patrons pull up to an unmarked yellow building, near where Pico Boulevard meets the Santa Monica Freeway. The whole place has the aura of those old spy flicks in which a character on the lam walks through an abandoned warehouse district before slipping into a nondescript building.

But upon entering the thick wood doors of Flints, it's clear this ain't a setup--this joint is jumpin'. Gussied-up guys and gals schmooze in a dimly lit dining room with striped wallpaper, classic rugs and a massive chandelier. Big-band 1940s music plays in the background, and it's hard not to feel like you should be wearing a feather boa or pinstriped suit. If you're under-dressed, the management will kindly let you stay but will inform you to leave the T-shirt at home next time.

Those here to dine go to the lavish dining room on the right. Those here to hang stay in the lounge amid the polished maple walls, posters of old movie spies in a seating area of bar stools and plush sofas. Smokers can skip the indoors altogether and head straight to the outdoor patio.

Cocktail waitresses--or libations consultants, as they're known here--circle Flints in their little black numbers and rhinestone accessories carrying colorful martini cocktails. Drinks include a sour apple martini topped with gummy worms, a black vodka martini, pineapple martini and a swirled white chocolate concoction. Of course, there are mixed drinks and beer and wine for those less daring.

There's not much entertainment at Flints. A jazz guitarist performs Tuesday nights, and on Mondays you can blow smoke at cigar night, when Harris' Big Easy cigar shop comes to Flints. There's really no need for more than that. Flints--the place and the imaginary persona that the place immortalizes--is entertaining enough. In fact, each night ends with a Flintism printed on the bottom of each bar tab:

"Obviously 'Gilligan's Island' is the depiction of purgatory and the seven deadly sins: Thurston Howell was greed, Ginger was lust, the Skipper was gluttony, Mrs. Howell was vanity, the professor was pride and Gilligan was sloth. I can't recall what Mary Anne was, I just remember wanting her." --Flint.

BE THERE

Flints, 3321 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 453-1331. 21 and older. No cover. Reservations suggested for dining.

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