I’ve traveled to Florida and Texas but my knowledge of that region in between is pretty much limited to Elvis Presley, Colonel Sanders and Bill Clinton. Last night I visited the new bar Sassafras and was schooled in the fine art of Southern hospitality. From the chatty service to the heirloom-stuffed cabinets, this old house (and it actually includes an entire old house) is right in line with my fantasy of the old South. Co-owner Bobby Green (Bigfoot Lodge, Thirsty Crow) designed the highly art-directed cocktail lounge hidden on a seedy stretch of Vine between Hollywood and Hancock Park. Transformed isn’t a big enough word for this fantastic drinking spot that once housed Vine Bar and through the decades dives with evocative names like Wild Lips, Saigon Paradise and Waterhole 5. I followed the flickering gaslamps and iron scrollwork into this Southern wonderland that’s serving up complicated and delicious libations like the Grilled Peach Punch (“Bank’s rum and brandy slow steeped with grilled peaches, spices and milk; then refreshingly clarified”), which I could have sipped all night, had I had found a bed amongst the antiques. Every object has a back-story like Green’s taxidermied bear dressed in his uncle’s ancient Masonic regalia. I’ll be back to soak up more stories and more of this fine booze. Ooh, listen to this one: A Sassafras Royale is “Templeton Rye Whiskey, Root Spirit, Housemade Sassafras Bitters, egg, malted milk powder, topped with house brewed sarsaparilla.” Wow! A couple of those and I’ll be imagining animatronic pirates.