Nightlife with a touch of refinement is what you'll experience when you frequent Los Angeles's best cocktail lounges. These upscale places lend themselves to sophisticated evenings out, and their stylish furnishings and interiors promote conversation and relaxation. For a taste of what Los Angeles offers, visit Velvet Margarita Cantina, which is known for its inventive cocktails, or lounge about in Lucky Strike Lanes Hollywood and discover the ambience that 10Best users appreciate. A great place for a date or an after-hours business meet-up.


This martini bar asserts that it invented the green apple martini, and if tart's your style, you'll definitely want to sample one. If you're looking for other flavors, try the "key lime pie" or the "red caramel apple" with its dose of butterscotch schnapps. More than 40 vodka and gin martinis are up for grabs, and they make great conversation-starters with the fun, accessible clientele. The coolest seats in the house are on animal-print sofas up front, and folks with energy to burn often gravitate towards the pool tables for a game or two. Other perks include a lengthy menu of American and Italian favorites and a good selection of appetizers.

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Sherman Oaks

Besides delicious takes on traditional French dishes, reliable Rive Gauche has a cozy, inviting lounge, which is perfect for an after-work drink or as a destination for a weekend evening. Choose a bottle from the extensive wine list, or simply sit back and take in the intimate, refined surroundings. A working fireplace among plush couches and chairs ensures that the atmosphere remains warm and convivial. A pleasant patio and a good selection of scotches and single malt whiskeys are added attractions.

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While La Boheme as a restaurant is known for its elaborate chandeliers, roaring fireplace, lengthy drapes, and touches of Gothic decor, it's also a terrific place to have drinks. Bar Tosca delivers a range of specialty cocktails, which patrons enjoy there or take to the outdoor patio. Romantic and quiet, the candlelit venue is perfect for a drink à deux or a peaceful cocktail in solitude. Plus, this alternative to the heavily-decorated interior offers privacy from passers-by thanks to an encircling stone wall. If you choose not to indulge in the dining room's Californian and French fare, know that the bar serves burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers.

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Manhattan Beach

It might be hard to find this tiny spot – with no sign advertising its presence, you have to look carefully to identify the renovated house that Side Door calls home. Once inside, you'll be glad you searched out the place. Large, high-backed couches and small tables for two pack all available space, and on weekends, it's standing room only. There's no room for live music, but an upbeat blend of world and house rhythms is piped in. College students and loyal locals comprise most of the clientele.

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Moonshadows Blue Lounge

Though this lounge demands a bit of a drive out of the city, those who make the trek are amply rewarded by a pleasant, open-air space that extends over the water, providing stunning views of surf and sun. DJs spin a mesmerizing accompaniment of chill house music six nights a week, attracting the hipster crowd but not alienating more mature patrons who simply want to enjoy a glass of wine and a beautiful seascape. Naturally, seafood is on offer from the restaurant inside. Perfect for a first or second date.

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La Cienega Corridor

Rubbing shoulders with Hollywood's elite is a given here, so play it cool as you sip sake at this hopelessly hip lounge. Whether you're having a few cocktails before tucking into some of the city's finest (and most expensive) sushi or just chatting with friends over drinks, it's difficult to find a venue more elegant in its simplicity than Koi's lounge. Low banquettes in muted earth tones line both sides of the rectangular room, and long, unadorned wooden tables, lit by candles, provide a place to rest your drink. Coral-colored ottomans allow more folks to join your table and get the evening going. Equally appealing front and back patios provide even more space for lounging and imbibing.

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Situated in an old firehouse, Mixville Bar boasts one of the most comfortable and attractive lounges in the city. The building's original pressed tin ceiling and fire truck doors add priceless ambience while newer additions like the 38-foot mahogany bar and cushy sofas blend in well. Locals love the place, and Mixville's popularity is growing fast. A bar menu of gourmet appetizers, courtesy of Edendale Grill, is available, and items like pecan-crusted brie and hand-battered onion rings can be had for only $5 during the daily happy hour (5pm to 7pm).

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Velvet Margarita Cantina

Over-the-top Mexican kitsch decor distinguishes this trendy hangout. Bleeding heart and skeleton motifs, red velvet booths, and projected black-and-white Mexican films contribute to an atmosphere that's half Day of the Dead, half cartoon. Patrons who come to imbibe pomegranate martinis or pineapple and coconut margaritas love the attitude and the late hours. Chat up the crowd in the lounge and patio before taking a seat in the restaurant, which serves delicious – and surprisingly healthy – Mexican eats.

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Folks congregate at Lucky Strike to eat, drink, dance, play billiards, and, of course, bowl. Ten-pin is just part of the scene; the colorful, mod lounge attracts a fair share of devotees who recline on streamlined, '60s-style furniture and rest their wine glasses on irregularly-shaped glossy wood tables. A great selection of beer and mixed drinks is on offer too, as is a stylish bar menu that includes chicken skewers and an open-faced egg sandwich. The sleek, clean interior is a fun to place to while away the night.

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The lobby lounge of this Sunset Strip institution attracts an equal mix of celebrities and star-gazers; both are drawn to the gracious, expansive room with its arched windows and beamed ceiling. Surprisingly comfortable couches invite you to sit for a spell, and attentive servers and soothing piano music make sure you do just that. The bar and restaurant are nearby, should you decide to change venues, but many patrons are happy to stay put and keep an eye on the scene.

Read more about Chateau Marmont Lounge →