SUNSET & VINYL
A HOLLYWOOD HIDDEN BAR SO WORTH FINDING
I hate to use the term “speak easy” as I think it’s played out these days but every once in a while, a bar comes around that makes you work to find it and the payoff is (or at least should be) absolutely satisfying cocktails. Downtown’s Birds & Bees is such a bar—find the hidden yellow door and enjoy cool craft cocktails—as is Sunset & Vinyl—a cocktail lounge with no visibility or signage tucked neatly above 800 Degrees Pizzeria in Hollywood.
Once you’ve found Sunset & Vinyl—here’s a hint, walk into 800 Degrees, walk past the restrooms, turn right and head upstairs—relax in the intimate lounge; enjoy the ‘70s-themed atmosphere; select songs you want to hear via the stacks of vinyl LPs; and enjoy cocktails crafted by Devon Espinosa.
Sunset & Vinyl is billed as a cozy, hidden bar and lounge dedicated to spreading the simple joy of listening to old school vinyl records. I’m down with that. Add luscious libations to that mantra and I’ll gladly belly up to the bar and make myself right at home. Do know that the bar and the pizzeria are two separate entities so if you want to grub on hearty pies, do so before or after your trip to the bar.
During our recent visit to Sunset & Vinyl, we started with Simpler Times—a Manhattan like cocktail made with gin, cognac, Carpano Antica Formula, dry vermouth, and Aperol. This one really works and is quite the delicious drink.
Be careful with the Off Sunset—a spicy Paloma variation made with tequila blanco, grapefruit, house grenadine, and jalapeño. Mine was too spicy, almost at the expense of flavor. I was warned it was spicy but I was hoping it would be good too. It wasn’t and a second one was quickly made—even the bartender agreed on that. The less spicy concoction was tastier but you’re better off just ordering a mezcal Paloma—my current favorite drink. A cocktail should never sacrifice flavor for any (spicy) gimmick.
Forget the dog and pony show of clever spicy drinks and enjoy the Dance or Die made with mezcal, pineapple and Aperol. This one is just so nice. Props to Devon Espinosa for coming up with this mezcal goodness in a glass.
If you like boozy, the On Repeat made with rye, Earl Grey, Green Chartreuse and Old Fashioned bitters is a good one as it comes off really Chartreuse forward. If you like light and easy, the Strawberry Fields made with vodka, strawberry, lemon, lime, and champagne is for you.
I wasn’t a fan of the bland and weak Sit & Spin, nor the too sweet Rich Mahogany, which came across as a bad Old Fashioned. But I did have success when I went off menu and trusted my bartender—this after he realized what I like in a drink.
I really enjoyed the relaxed setting at Sunset & Vinyl. The music was good, the vibe chill and comfy, and the drinks, for the most part, solid. It’s so nice to have options for good drinks in the heart of Hollywood. I always dig a damn fine martini at Musso & Frank (as old school as it gets); tiki at LONO; and of course, Minibar sets the standard for craft cocktails in the area. And now, Sunset & Vinyl ushers in a throwback feel where vinyl rules and cocktails reign supreme.
Sunset & Vinyl is located at 1521 Vine Street in Hollywood above 800 Degrees (walk past the restrooms, turn right and head upstairs). Open daily 6pm to 2am. Happy Hour everyday 5pm to 8pm. Call 424-646-3375.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography courtesy Of: Sunset & Vinyl