In a couple months Cocktailia will be relocating from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon. Among other things, this means that my half-dozen annual trips to LA are going to be stopping, so I was sure to hit at least one really great new bar the last time I was there. This bar was Seven Grand.
We tried to visit Seven Grand once before, last August, but were foiled by a film shoot taking over the bar for the evening. Not to be deterred, this actually made me want to check it out more. I recently got my chance.
Seven Grand is hard to miss, especially when it’s dark. Neon signs are usually pretty tacky but they somehow make this one work for them. I’m partial to the stag motif, so maybe that has something to do with it. Or it might just be the contrast between the bright neon and the dark, subdued interior of the bar itself.
You get into the bar by walking up a long staircase to your right as you enter the building, taking care to note the wall of Maker’s Mark as you pass. Once you’re inside you’ll find a long bar stocked with fresh garnishes and backed by an impressive selection of spirits. The decor is dark with a hunting lodge theme: lots of dark wood, exposed brick, and plaid. The music isn’t so loud that you have to shout to be heard. The night we went the bar was fairly empty, so I can’t speak for more crowded times, but the ambient noise level was as low as the music, which made it a pleasant place to sit and have a regular conversation.
The drink quality matched the environment. The bartenders were knowledgeable, recommending a couple of different ryes to me and describing their differences, and yet were willing to take a shot at something new when Nathan ordered a drink they weren’t familiar with. Nathan was later complimented on his choice of a Sidecar by a bartender who said it was his personal favorite drink. This, combined with our other well-made drinks (Manhattan for me, Old Fashioned for Sarai) showed an appreciation for the classics that you don’t find at a lot of places.
Seven Grand quickly became my favorite LA bar. Too bad I’m going to be spending less time down there in the future; I’d definitely be back otherwise, and may still do if I get a chance. Seven Grand is owned by 213, the people behind Broadway Bar, the Golden Gopher, and Cole’s/Varnish in downtown LA.
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So…. if you MOVE to Portland, where are you going to VISIT? Are you going to start taking weekend trips to SF?
I’ll be back in SF once in a while, sure, but Portland is also very convenient to Seattle and, to a lesser extent, Vancouver, BC. I’m sure these two cities have plenty to offer as well.
Both Portland and Seattle have extensive cocktail cultures, each of which is distinctive from each other. I have not found a lot in Vancouver, though the head bartender for Vessel in Seattle came from there and he is the reason Vessel was named Best Bar 2008 in Esquire.
I’ll email you a list of places for Seattle when you’re heading up here.
Fantastic, thanks Erik. I probably won’t get up there until later this year but feel free to send them along whenever. I keep lists of places to check out in various cities and don’t have anything for Seattle yet.
You can send that to bartender at cocktailia dot com.