WEHO BAR TURNS ONE & HITS FULL STRIDE
A year in the life span of a craft cocktail bar is akin to that of dog years. First, if you can even last a full year in this town, well congratulations, that’s a feat. Second, if you can manage to thrive and constantly elevate your game—now we’re talking. Harlowe on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood just celebrated its one-year anniversary and released its new summer cocktail menu and is proving to be one of the best bars in the area.
Harlowe is a floor-to-ceiling tribute to Hollywood's Golden Age, complete with vintage decor, custom fixtures, and original turn-of-the-century portraiture on every wall. There’s the tiled floor, marble bar and a grown-up elegance to the joint. Renowned NY mixologist Dushan Zaric originally designed the cocktail program, and Harlowe boasts a fantastic list of classic and original cocktails, draft and bottled drinks, homemade libations and more, including all in-house made syrups.
Part of the 1933 Group of bars, which includes Bigfoot West, Sassafras, La Cuevita, and Thirsty Crow, Harlowe is a cocktail-forward bar now run by Chris Amirault, an East Coast transplant who has tended bar at Mess Hall in Los Feliz, as well as The Eveleigh.
During a recent visit to Harlowe, we bellied up to the bar and took a wondrous boozy journey led by Chris Amirault. We started with The Bee’s T, a light and tasty blend of Ford’s Gin, Del Maguey Chichicapa, green tea, lemon and honey. This is a great starter to a night of cocktails or just perfect for some fun day drinking.
Fans of Tiki will want to try The Ides of March, a boozy blend of Rhum JM Gold, Mount Gay Black Barrel, Hamilton 151, lime, ginger, pineapple, Donn’s Spice No. 2, and Harlowe Zombie Mix. This one looks pretty and goes down easy but can sneak up on you, hence the two limit per guest.
The Swipe Right with Avion Blanco tequila, Green Chartreuse, Ancho Reyes, lime, pineapple, and falernum is a play on a Chartreuse Swizzle, not one of my favorites but definitely a popular libation. I was a big fan of To Hell With Spain, a cobbler inspired drink made with Lustau Polo Cortado, Amontillado & Oloroso, Fighting Cock 6-yr Bourbon, Demerara, orange and strawberry. This one just hit on all cylinders.
Martini fans will love the Cheat Day with Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Manzanilla Sherry, Chareau Aloe liqueur, cucumber gomme, and Bitterman’s Boston Bittahs. One is fun, two or more, well, you should just know better.
Just because I wanted to, I went off menu and ordered The Martinez, which some claim to be the original martini. It was solid and really made sense when I tried the Tigers Love Pepper, which is actually a play on The Martinez. This brilliant concoction is a mix of Aviation Gin, Krogstad Aquavit, Aperol, red bell pepper, Cocchi Torino, and orange bitters. It’s a great new take on a wonderful classic cocktail.
Chris Amirault is a big fan of draught drinks. Now you may think that you won’t want pre-made cocktails that have been sitting around for a while, but the draught program ensures consistency and speeds up the process when ordering. Draught drinks include the Moscow Mule, Old Fashioned, and Sazerac—and the Sazerac proved to be solid. Likewise, the draught Mexican Firing Squad made with Altos Reposado Tequila, house-made grenadine, lime and Angostura is a mighty potent drink. Damn good!
Rounding out the draught cocktail menu are the Slow Dance with St. Germain, allspice, dram, lemon and sparkling wine, and the Improved Aperol Spritz with CapRock Gin, Aperol, lemon, maraschino, and sparkling Chenin Blanc. These are very light and balanced drinks and even more impressive because they are pre-made draught drinks.
If you find yourself in need of sustenance, go for the Harlowe Burger with caramelized onions, mushrooms, aged white cheddar and Dijon horseradish aioli, along a side of fries, and roasted corn. All of which are great option to soak up the booze and let you keep drinking more.
Time spent at Harlowe is relaxing as there’s no club or douchey WeHo vibe going on, just first rate handcrafted cocktails in a chill, time-gone-by setting. Between Harlowe, nearby Melrose Umbrella Company, which is walking distance, and The Copper Still on Beverly Boulevard, I’d say these are among three of the best watering holes in the city—all of whom leave pretension at the door and let their drinks speak for themselves.
Harlowe is located at 7321 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Hours: Sun & Mon: 5pm-12am; Tues-Sat: 5pm-2am. Call 323-876-5839.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy of: Harlowe