IMPRESSES BUT MISSES THE MARK
Self-professed as an upscale concept set to redefine nightlife in LA, the brand new Warwick on Sunset Boulevard is impressive in its décor but subpar where it really matters.
For all the lovely bells and whistles that the powers that be—including impresario Jeffrey Best and nightlife pioneers Sylvain Bitton and J.T. Torregiani (Aventine and Beso)—painstakingly did to transform the old Club Lingerie space (three years in the making) into a sleek, roomy and comfy venue with three fireplaces, two on the main floor and one in the upstairs hideaway, the fact remains that it's a bar that serves really expensive and unimpressive cocktails.
Maybe when new owners take over the space in a year’s time they will be able to do something right with the beautiful club. I know, that sounds harsh but how else are you supposed to feel when a big, splashy Hollywood club opening falls flat on its face?
Immediately as I walked into Warwick, I admit I was struck by its lovely décor, but as soon as a smiling hostess handed me an Orange Royal, a sickeningly sweet cocktail made with Cointreau, blood orange juice and Prosecco, I just as fast was looking for a place to get rid of the dud drink.
And that’s the problem with Warwick; they have the audacity to charge $17 ($20 after tip) for less than mediocre cocktails. I can easily, and with glee, walk around the corner and hangout at the more impressive (and better bar by leaps and bounds, not to mention home to pretty good BBQ) No Vacancy, or the lovely Sadie where it’s DB free and I know Director of Spirits Giovanni Martinez will always craft first rate cocktails, which is why I’m out in the first place.
And if it’s the club vibe that Warwick is going after, charging between $400 to $800 for bottle service ($9,000 for a particular bottle of 1987 wine), then I’d rather go (also around the corner) to Lure or Sound or Playhouse or Supperclub where there will probably be better DJs and possibly the tables will cost less because there are so many more of them in these bigger venues.
And as lovely as the look of Warwick is, it’s not grander than Edison or as cool as La Descarga or even Harvard & Stone (all of whom, more importantly, serve better cocktails).
But according to Best, he was immediately up to the challenge to bring back the Club Lingerie space to glory.
“One of the things that really made the club great back in the day was its amazing venue right on Sunset. Moreover, we could stay open until 6 am, have dancing and live music,” Best explains. “So I started thinking: what if it had the style and ambiance of a European lounge with a proper cocktail program, music, premier hospitality in a great space that’s not just another place following the trends?”
Unfortunately the “proper cocktail program” isn’t to be found in Warwick’s less than stellar (and overpriced) specialty cocktails. The Blackberry Buck uses Dickel Whisky…enough said. While the Spanish Bull, a mix of tequila, mezcal, cointreau, orange juice and carrot juice (seriously) tastes too much like carrot juice with a hint of smokiness. I know I don’t want to pay $17 for carrot juice.
The Coco Piña Fresca is a pleasant Piña Colada but it’s too sweet for me to want a whole glass worth. Same for the Peach Cobbler (although it’s not as tasty). The Kaffir Melon Cooler, made with gin, watermelon juice, Kaffir lime, pomegranate juice and lime juice, was nice at first sip but I quickly tired of it.
A mediocre Manhattan and a decent Sazerac will cost you approximately $18 at the bar. No thanks! Why couldn’t 1886 Bar have opened a Hollywood location in the same space instead? It didn’t help that I spotted craft-master Brady Weise of 1886 Bar, one of this town’s best bartenders, at the Warwick opening. All I could think of was what kind of amazing creation he could make for me instead of the blah drinks being served.
The club is touting its table service hospitality (and I must say that the service and attitude of the staff I encountered is top notch) where a personal cocktail attendant will take care of the suckers, I mean bottle service guests. Pay hundreds of dollars for a bottle and you can choose the spirit and score fresh squeezed juice, house made syrup or bitters, seasonal garnishes, and house made "foams." And if guests don’t finish their bottles before the night is through, they’re stored behind the bar until their next visit. That’s cool! As Best explains it, “It’s bespoke cocktails.”
“We want Warwick to run like a luxury hotel or high-end restaurant, but with cocktails in place of food," says General Manager Dean Geistlinger. “We want our guests to feel comfortable, have fun, and know they’re getting the highest quality of everything we have, and that means knowing the origins of all the fruits and vegetables that go into what they’re drinking, knowing all that we can about the champagne and wines we offer, and doing everything we can to take things to the next level. We’re taking a different approach to everything.”
I appreciate the effort but the proof is in the pudding.
Even the upstairs hideaway, which fits up to 100 guests and has its own bar, misses the mark with its wrought iron framing of the reclaimed factory windows that look out onto the living room space below. It feels claustrophobic and kills what could be a really grand and open balcony where people would clamor to be and people watch.
It will be interesting to see what becomes of Warwick. These guys are hospitality bigwigs so hopefully the bar program will get on track, by that I mean serve quality drinks at reasonable prices (nobody wants to hang with a bunch of greedy people). There will be live music, and DJs spinning so that could be a reason to go beyond the first visit just to check things out. At least there’s no cover charge.
Warwick will be open every Wednesday through Saturday from 9 pm to 2am. For more reservations e-mail email@example.com or call Warwick directly at 323-460-6667.
Photography By: Alen Lin