Margaritas became America’s most popular drink in the 1970s, kicking Wall Street martinis to the curb, and we never looked back. There’s even a special excuse to drink it (as if anyone needs one) – on Cinco de Mayo, a misunderstood Mexican holiday for us Gringos – to leave work early on Friday and head within earshot of a mariachi band. Whether consumed stirred, poured over rocks, served neat, shaken or whirled frozen, no permission necessary in West Hollywood, where the ever-versatile tequila is the most popular liquor served daily, the top of the top shelf.
Every day is a good day for tasting tequila, and WeHo doesn’t require a calendar to consume it. Just ask George Clooney. What? The world’s fastest growing brand of tequila, Casamigos, is one of the brands that West Hollywood celebs proudly promote – it’s infused with 100-proof adoration by George and his friend Rande Gerber. (By the way, Casamigos is headquartered down the road in sleepy Malibu but it’s poured in all the cool be-seen spots in WeHo.)
Three Spirited Spirits and Where to Sip Them
There are plenty of places to let your spirit animal loose with Casamigos. Head to Sunset Marquis, home of NightBird Studios where the soundtracks for Oceans 11 and 12 were laid down, which also happens to be Clooney’s hotel of choice for screening parties. Or head to The Grafton on Sunset’s quick and easy Bar 20, the Chamberlain West Hollywood (whose private bar is for guests only), Sunset Tower Hotel and the famous Viper Room (co-owned by Johnny Depp when it opened in 1993), plus The Standard, Hollywood, and The London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills.
Say what? You don’t want to have to check-in to check out Casamigos? Try Gracias Madre on Melrose Avenue, a Mexican spot bold enough to serve only plant-based cuisine and small-batch tequila and mescal-based cocktails. Locals and celebs come in droves to sample their amazing menu: chicken tacos without the chicken, chorizo torta sans chorizo, or a BLT without the B.
Try their cannabis cocktail, the Sour T-Iesal (medical marijuana card not required—it is made with Cannabidiol Oil); any one of their “standard” margaritas infused with jalapeno bitters upon request for a cool/hot drink; their most popular margarita, an orange version made with Reposado tequila and rimmed with house made orange salt; or sink into the spicy Meszal Purist Margarita, the “skinniest in Los Angeles” designed by GM’s mixologist, Jason Eisner. Si, says Jay Z, Beyoncé, Mila and Kelly Cuoco.
Que? May 5th is a day like any other day? Tequila’s not your drink of choice? Then pull up a bar stool or cozy up to a club chair to sample some other homegrown West Hollywood celebrity brands. Virginia Black Whiskey is known as the decadent little black dress that fits everyone, goes down smoothly, and then creeps up on you. Rapper Drake launched the brand a year ago in collaboration with Brent Hocking, the creator of DeLeon Tequila. Check out its block-letter name spanning the WeHo building on the corner of Melrose Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard (Instagramers take note), then head to one of these cool places to sample the goods: Mondrian LA’s Skybar (where you’re likely to hear an undertone of Drake on the sound system), Estrella (for its patio vibe), Lisa Vanderpump’s SUR and PUMP (two places to spot those reality celebrities everyone else recognizes), L.P. (the rooftop bar of E.P.), SoHo House (a private members-only place on Sunset Boulevard), ROKU Sunset (for teppanyaki, sushi or a great patio), Revolver (an LGBTQ+ video bar), and kitchen24 and Hamburger Mary’s – both of which are super easy to slide into.
Bruno Mars, never one to be left on the sidewalk, brought his collaborative music spirit to the craft spirits business and West Hollywood to help create SelvaRey Rum. The Panamanian white rum – smooth enough to drink on the rocks – was named best white rum by FiftyBest.com. Their dark rum, infused with natural chocolate, also drips with awards. Sip ’em at the Sunset Marquis (talk to Amber at Catavina’s open-air bar), Connie & Ted’s (paired with wicked good seafood and fish), Taste (a contemporary bistro), Craig’s (the celebrity hot spot), Petrossian (for casual elegance and caviar), and Laurel Hardware (a locals’ lovely).
As salt is to the rim of a margarita, no discussion of craft cocktail culture is complete without a mention of drinking and driving. While celebs have their drivers and some of us splurge on surging, mere mortals hanging in WeHo have The PickUp line, which offers free weekend nighttime rides. Luckily it operates every Friday, Saturday and “Sunday Funday” – and not just on Friday, the 5th of May.
The Visit West Hollywood website helps visitors play where it shows and stay where it counts, with a handy hotel map and lots of local tips on events, nightlife and more of WeHo; www.visitwesthollywood.com.