Best Bars in Los Angeles: 2012 Rankings

The editors at Playboy Magazine have released their annual rankings for the greatest bars in America.  Considering this crew attends all the best Playboy Mansion parties with the who’s who of the Hollywood set, I think we can trust their judgment on ranking the best watering holes America has to offer. They categorized the venues under four genres: Classics, Dive Bars, Seduction Spots and Mixology.

I’m from Los Angeles and I’ve been to all of the venues listed for my city, and I’m happily surprised at how spot-on the list is.

Whether you’re from L.A. or visiting LaLa Land, these spots will definitely meet your expectations for a fun time.

If you don’t plan on visiting southern Cali any time soon, check the link below to see what fun spots made the list in your part of the country.

The legendary Chateau Marmont

Best Classic Bar: Chateau Marmont, the garden patio (West Hollywood) — Built in 1927, this is one of the few bars on planet earth where you could apply the phrase “If these walls could talk.” Hollywood’s most legendary and iconic personalities have lived, died, had affairs, met their soulmates, gotten bloody sloshed and hella high at the Chateau for the last 85 years, and the train shows no sign of slowing down. Playboy applies the perfect description for this classic landmark: “Harder to get into than Harvard, it’s the only place where Miuccia Prada, Louis C.K. and Waka Flocka Flame might share a round.” Let me tell you, seriously, in complete and total honesty, you really do have a better chance of being admitted to Harvard than getting in to the Chateau for drinks at night. But once you learn to finagle your way in, you will not be disappointed. On any given night, you will be surrounded by a mix A-listers, lip-syncing pop tarts and legendary rock stars. However, no need to be crushed if you’re in L.A. and find that you cannot get into the hotel bar or restaurant to save your grandmother’s life, because located next door, but outside of the hotel’s high cement walls, is your second best option: Bar Marmont. This place is a super-fabulous spot, for sure, but Bar Marmont is on the expensive side, as well. Was it worth it? YES! As they say, “If you must get into trouble, do it at the Chateau Marmont!” (

Go to the red door at Bar Marmont and drink under a ceiling of butterflies

Best Dive Bar: Jumbo’s Clown Room (Mid-town Los Angeles) — This is not a strip bar. It’s definitely full-on pole-dancing, but it’s more circus-dancers-meets-low-budget-Las-Vegas-burlesque where the female patrons beat out the male clientele 2-1. Some dancers are a hot mess, while a few are sexy and hip. Think Courtney Love, literally. She danced here in her early days before Hole made it big.

Have a Jolly Good Time at Jumbo’s Clown Room

The music leans toward the 80s, sometimes classic rock, sometimes rockabilly 1950s, which plays much louder than it needs to on an old, lo-fi sound system. The drinks are strong and dirt cheap, and if you dare to arrive after 9:30 p.m., be prepared to wait in line for a very long time, with the possibility of not getting in at all. Jumbo’s recently got some real street cred, too, after Anthony Bourdain showcased this novelty bar on his show “The Layover” out of hundreds of other joints in L.A. that he had to choose from. That’s saying a lot, people! (

The beautiful Roosevelt Hotel Lobby

Best Seduction Spot: Library bar (In the Heart of Hollywood) — Located inside the famed and beautiful Roosevelt Hotel, this place is Hollywood glam at its best. The historic bar is dark and so are the walls and furniture. The decor is part old Hollywood, part Paris, so one definitely gets the feel of being taken back in time to the 1930s when Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow sashayed through breezeway on their way to meet Clark Gable for cocktail hour. What makes this bar unique is the fresh herbs and fruits lined up atop the bar. Let’s call it “organic mixology”, meaning their is no drink menu because the bartender mixes his drinks based on what he finds in season at the local farmer’s market. Tell him what you like, raspberry fruity with a splash of lemon tart, spicy with tomatoes, jalapenos and ground pepper, aromatic with lavender . . . At $12 – $14, drinks are not economical, but you can tell yourself that you’re getting part of your required daily fruit and vegetable serving, along with a good, strong buzz.

Organic Mixologist Matt Biancaniello at the Library Bar

Copa D’oro (Santa Monica) — Great happy hour, plus you’ve got the quaint Santa Monica beach neighborhood to go along with your evening. I’m not a big beach person, so this place doesn’t get my attention as much, but for tourists who are out and about discovering the Santa Monica area, this place serves its purpose.

Sleek & Chic Copa d’Oro

Los Angeles is known for its near-constant weather of sunshine and comfortable temperatures, so I would recommend an outdoor bar where you could enjoy a glorious sunset with your vodka tonic. Moonshadows in Malibu is my choice for beach drinks in style. (

Breezy Moonshadows in Malibu

Did your city make the cut? See a list of great watering holes in other cities here.

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