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GOING OUT | A NIGHT AT LIBRARY BAR

A place to read -- and be seen

July 19, 2007|Heidi Siegmund Cuda | Special to The Times

REMEMBER when downtown nightlife was just Al's Bar and Gorky's? Now it's so cosmopolitan you can order one on every corner. A Cosmo, that is.

Take the Library Bar, a bookish new watering hole kitty-corner to the Standard. You can curl up with an Edith Piaf biography, while downing a Lady Chatterly's Lover, just one of the inventive cocktails on the menu.

The elegant bar on the bottom level of the Library Court Lofts at 6th and Hope is aiming to offer well-heeled professionals a fine selection of world-class brews (no Bud Light here) and handcrafted cocktails that raise the game of the downtown's bar scene.

"It's located in the financial district, which is a safe part of downtown," says Will Shamlian, who owns the bar with partner Michael Leko. "We definitely wanted to take things up a few notches, give the neighborhood a stylish upscale pub and we figured, just with the overflow from the Standard, it was a no-brainer."

Graphic designer Joseph Stelly is a Library Bar regular who kills time at the lounge after work while traffic settles down.

"I've been to all the new bars that've opened up here in the last year, but this my spot," says Stelly, 37. "You can go anywhere and get a drink, but the people who work here are genuine. They remember your name, remember your drink and you can tell how much care and quality they put into making the club."

Shamlian and Leko both brought long resumes into this venture. The two met while working at Mezzaluna in Brentwood and each went on to success. Shamlian was a partner in Daddy's, and Leko founded the Eat Well chain. They teamed to found such bars as the 4100 Bar in Silver Lake, Sapphire in Studio City and Chalet in Eagle Rock, but they've hit their stride with Library Bar.

The intimate spot exudes class. The bathrooms are made with marble, and the bar features custom millwork. Blue leather barstools and amber couches make the design warm and posh. Interior brick walls add to the warmth, while black-and-white photos of vintage potholes give it a nice urban edge.

A private area is made whimsical with a chandelier made of antlers, but it's the bar's floor-to-ceiling book collection that's the real coup.

Set around a fireplace with lighted candles inside, the library has become the place to strike up a conversation over a speed read of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" or Julia Phillips' "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again."

There are also astrology books and a 425-page tome titled "Sushi for Beginners."

Library Bar's glamazon bartender Brianna Rettig, a motocross aficionado who's a hit with the customers, was even wooed in the library.

"A customer asked me out by slipping a love note in a romance novel, and telling me to turn to page 40," she says. "I thought that was pretty cool."

The music selection on the club's jukebox also stokes the flame of love.

"They've got the best jukebox in town," says Joe Smith, a customer who loitered outside the bar one Saturday evening waiting for it to open. "Any place that's got Social Distortion's 'Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell' is all right with me."

To add to the mood, guests can choose from Marvin Gaye, Fleetwood Mac, Willie Nelson, Sergio Mendes, the Smiths, Sublime or Joe Jackson.

And although they don't serve food, the bar is adjacent to a Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express, which will deliver anything off its menu to Library Bar guests so they can nosh while sampling from beer sommelier Christina Perozzi's choice brews or mixologist Peter Birmingham's uber-fresh cocktail list. Think house-made syrups and organic juices made from blueberries, pineapples and pomegranates.

"I used to walk by when they were building it," Stelly says. "It was worth the wait. I meet people here all the time and now I really can't imagine downtown without it."

weekend@latimes.com

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Library Bar

Where: 630 W. 6th St., L.A. (enter on Hope Street)

When: 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday; 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Price: No cover; valet parking available after 6 p.m.

Info: (213) 614-0053; www.librarybarla.com

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