VINTAGE COCKTAIL BAR READIES FOR TAKE OFF
I definitely have the travel bug. There’s just nothing better than being able to escape and get away for some much needed R&R. But with travel comes the hassle of packing, dealing with airlines and all the little potential pit falls that can ruin a trip. I was recently trapped in a Central American airport for days and it wasn’t much fun. But the VIP bar lounge was a welcome refuge.
You know the adage: Want to get away? Well, what’s better than getting away without really getting away? That’s where West Hollywood’s Now Boarding bar comes to the rescue. Now Boarding is a 1960's Pan-AM-style vintage cocktail lounge rooted in the golden age of air travel. Think Catch Me if You Can meets “Mad Men” in style and theme.
The travel lounge is adorned with vintage maps, first class seats and gold chandeliers, all inspired and influenced by aviation. The vibe is chic and retro and offers the feeling that getting away on vacation is eminent. Believe me, being trapped in an airport is no fun but relaxing with a good drink in hand in a cool setting is priceless.
The beverage service comes courtesy of ex-Roger Room alumni Wil Figueroa, who happens to be co-owner and bar manager. During our recent visit to Now Boarding, we sat back, relaxed and awaited take off to good times. We started with sparkling cocktails, which are nice and light and good starters, such as The Virgin Flight with prickly pear, pomegranate, hibiscus flower, and prosecco, as well as the Destination Unknown with vodka, vanilla, jasmine, lemon, strawberry and prosecco. It’s a real bummer that the bar doesn’t open during the day as these are perfect day drinks. I really wouldn’t want more than one of these to start my night but I could drink a slew of them during the afternoon.
My favorite drink on the menu is the Wheels Up whisky drink with Birddog peach whisky, Aperol, lemon and tangerine, served up. I wouldn’t have thought those ingredients would make something I’d like but damn, that’s a good and boozy drink. That’s just the kind of fuel you need for lift off. The Foxtrot with whisky, white chocolate, lemon, orange, egg white, cinnamon, and Absinthe served up worked with Jameson Black Barrel but absolutely failed with Makers Mark as the main ingredient. Go figure. I would recommend you opt for Jameson. It’s just better booze.
The bar is proud of its Mexican Dove tequila drink, a play on the Paloma made with Partida Blanco tequila, lime, grapefruit juice, and Squirt soda served over crushed ice in a can (nice presentation!), but I found it too sweet for me. I can tell this will be a popular beverage.
Gin fans should take the Fly By with Botanist Gin, Maurin Quina, Remy VSOP, Carpano Antica and a cherry served up for a spin. Likewise, the Mules Jules with vodka, house made green apple ginger beer, mint and cinnamon is a nice and solid mule. I’m not a mint nor vodka fan but completely appreciated this cocktail.
Being a rum fan, I wanted to get to know Dr. Rumack (named after the doctor in Airplane). This drink was just what the doc ordered. It’s a nice mix of white rum, Wray & Nephew, Velvet Falernum, banana, pineapple, lemon, clove, cinnamon and star anise. Yum!
Instead of bottle service, the bar offers its boozy Suitcase Punch oversized cocktails for $75, which come with a first class presentation. I can’t speak for the quality of the punches—there’s the Bermuda Triangle with Aviation Gin, Luxardo, Green Chartreuse, lemon, mint and sugar, along with the Lay Over with Svedka Vodka, lemon, tangerine, pomegranate and Prosecco.
If you’re hungry, Now Boarding has partnered with LA's Croft Alley and offers artisanal gourmet sandwiches and sides. In-flight entertainment comes in the form of both live music, featuring acts performing acoustic sets, jazz standards and covers, and also DJs playing everything from 50s rock ‘n’ roll and Motown o old school hip-hop and funk. Happy Hour is all night Mondays and 6pm to 8pm Tuesday to Friday and features Classic Cocktails for $8, well drinks for $6 and PBR and Bud Light for $3.
I love the classic setting at Now Boarding, where you can chill and drink without turbulence nor air sickness.
Now Boarding is located at 7746 Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood. Hours: Mon-Fri 6pm to 2am; Sat & Sun 7pm to 2am. Call 323-848-8447.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Cortesy of: Now Boarding