I often get asked which bars are my favorites in LA. I personally have a rotating Top 3, with my Top Ten being more or less staples. Because people seem interested, I’m going to make a point of publicly declaring my favorite ones from now on – and why I like them so much.
LA DESCARGA is one of those places that I wish not so many people knew about. I mean, its so good, you want to keep it all for yourself – and maybe a few select friends. But, nowadays, with info at the speed of tapping fingertips, nothing is sacred, nothing is secret. So, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!
Mark and John Houston, the sibling duo behind several LA bars wanted to bring Latin culture alive in the LA bar scene, and managed to do just that with La Descarga. First off, I am quite fond of the creative team behind La Descarga, Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni. They are truly passionate, work hard and ‘get’ that bar experience should be about the guest, not the bartender. The bar staff is the conduit of the establishment and the drinks. And, if the establishment is welcoming, fun and full of kick-ass cocktails, the mixology team should be as well.
Then, there’s the ambiance. I don’t want to spoil any surprises for La Descarga virgins, so let’s just say that if you’ve been to PDT in New York (whereby you make reservations to go ahead of time, and enter through a phone booth inside a hotdog joint), you’ll have some idea of what its like to arrive at La Descarga.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday feature sexy live performances by a live saxophonist and a female dancer. Picture red spotlights, legs and ruffles everywhere, a bit of badum-badum-burlesque. Suffice it to say that the temperature rose even though the air conditioning was on…
And, finally, the cocktails. La Descarga is the kind of place that a cocktail novice would enjoy just because the place is so darn fun! But, its also the kind of place that a spirits aficionado would be impressed by the attention to detail in the rum selection. High proof, dark, spiced, light, agricole – you name it. Rum itself is a rainbow category, and the kind of cocktails that can come from it are the pot of gold.
La Descarga recently launched their new spring menu, and in THIS VIDEO you will see how “The Next Level” is made and why its going to be one of the hottest cold drinks in town – its served in a house-made ice coconut and packs a punch equivalent to two drinks. I’m not kidding, its very strong… buyer beware!
As Pablo pointed out, there are rum purists in the world who prefer to sip their nectar and puff a cigar alongside it, making La Descarga’s cigar room a beacon of light in an otherwise darkened smokers’ world. Unfortunately, cigarettes also find their way into the cigar room so if you’re smoke-averse, this is not the room for you. However, if you can handle the stench of Marlboros and Parliaments alongside your hand-rolled cigar, you’ll be in hog heaven.
The embargo may not be yet lifted for Americans to visit Cuba so La Descarga is as close as some of us will ever get. And, frankly, saving myself the plane ride and ticket fare, La Descarga’s form of Caribbean flavor in east Hollywood is enough for me. At least, for now.