Diners enjoy drinks at the Redwood Bar in downtown L.A. (Spencer Weiner, Los Angeles…)
This Monday is Labor Day, and America will celebrate with a three-day weekend. But why should this great nation's working people wait until Monday to exercise their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of a deserved cocktail?
Ducking out early on Friday is an American tradition to rival baseball and capitalism. Given the travails of the 99%, it's your patriotic duty to honor your laboring forebears and hit the pub while the sun's still high today. Here are a few of L.A.'s canonical three-martini lunch bars and early-evening happy hours. Do it for yourself, and do it for America.
Mere blocks from Downtown's central business district, this rooftop lounge dovetails elitist views of the L.A. skyline with proletarian happy hours. From 4 p.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, they sling $6 champagne cocktails, $5 beers and a host of cut-rate snacks. Make a whole weekend of it and post up on Sunday mornings for $12 bottles of champagne — nothing screams "U.S.A." like firing bottles of bubbly while secretly applauding your cheapskate nature.
Pacific Dining Car
The grande dame of L.A. workday drinking is actually a repurposed rail car in Westlake famous for all-night dining and all-day misanthropy. The regal wait staff can sear you a decent steak 24/7, but for a clandestine deal meeting — or just a confrontation with your private ennui at 3 p.m. — few venues are as off your boss' grid yet on the point of daytime imbibing as Pacific Dining Car.
Musso & Frank
When choosing your weapon of choice against corporate decorum, the martini is a boozy Swiss Army knife — useful in all situations, and easily disguisable. Ever since Faulkner and Fitzgerald set up shop in Hollywood, Musso & Frank has been the only joint that matters for a proper martini served by red-jacketed tenders who don't ask questions. The Writers' Room is around back, but the real room for writers — and those putting off their writing — is up front and serving right now.
Workday drinking is a delicate dance between a desire to rage and a need for propriety. The classier your destination, the classier your demeanor will be upon return. This Los Feliz institution sates both needs — classic Italian ambience, and a bar to make you act like a Medici back at the office. They have artisanal cocktails, but stick to the red-sauce (and get-sauced) staples.
What's the point of a hotel bar? To lose yourself, to start over, to embrace the transience of love and attachment. Or, if you work at the nearby Sony offices, to get hosed in a hurry before Amy Pascal makes it back to the lot. Make like the Munchkins of "The Wizard of Oz," who ransacked the place during filming and made the hotel bar the Westside's preeminent destination for blowing off film-biz obligations.
Oh, no particular reason. Certainly not its proximity to The Times' offices or anything.