L.A. Cocktail: Around the World at Messhall Kitchen

There’s plenty of room for all imbibers at Messhall Kitchen in Los Feliz

When bartenders recommend their favorite watering holes, one should take note. On most L.A. pro’s lists is Messhall Kitchen, widely known for generous pours from an extensive selection of spirits, as well as hearty comfort food. Did you say ribs all day? The rustic cabin ambiance evokes childhood summer fun and the snappy wait staff is there to ensure their customers find their happy place.

The gastropub’s bar room, with dining areas on each side and a sprawling backyard patio, allows for plenty of elbow room for solo counter sitters as well as raucous crowds. Regulars tend to hail from the Los Feliz neighborhood, with industry workers, both above and below the line, and the occasional paparazzi prey. In-the-know music lovers come before and after concerts at the Greek Theater and hikers stop in after a day in Griffith Park.

The artisanal cocktail menu transports drinkers far from usual L.A. haunts. Printed on a world map titled A Thirst For Wanderlust. 16 concoctions are listed from which to choose. Petit Parisian ($15) has Capurro pisco, bitters, rose, Cinzano and absinthe in the mix—oui, oui, s’il vous plaît. Mexico is represented by Pitaya Playa ($14) with tequila, lime, orange, dragon fruit juices and agave. Longing for the Italian coast? Try Arrivederci, Baby ($14): vodka, Amaro Angelino, and orange. Sip it then lay back and dream of Amalfi.

Messhall Kitchen’s house cocktails are designed by beverage director Amanda Arebalo, who puts each staffer through rigorous training. Their bible is a collection of over 150 recipes. Bartenders had better know their stuff because one of the highlights of this joint is Loaded Dice ($14). The customer picks the liquor and the bartender will make a drink just for them after learning about their flavor preferences— as in, sweet or savory and spicy or tame?

Widely respected in the cocktail world, Arebalo is one of the first to procure the rights to serve Lalo Tequila, made by Don Julio’s grandson. Years ago, director Steven Soderbergh fell in love with a Bolivian brandy, Singani 63, while filming in the region. A regular at Messhall, the Oscar-winner ensures Arebalo has it on hand. With a taste closer to pisco than brandy, it makes Hotel Kolifornia ($14) a step above the usual. A favorite sip is Ko Yao Yai ($15), named for an island in Thailand; it’s the tropics in a glass with mezcal, cachaca, passion fruit, lemongrass and lime.

Now there’s some big news from the Messhall crew. They’ll be celebrating their 10-year anniversary with special food and drinks on September 18. Then, the team is opening a second location. The ambiance is rustic, like an overgrown cabin, at The Backyard from Messhall, which is set to debut in Seal Beach later in September.

Messhall Kitchen
4500 Los Feliz Blvd
Monday-Thursday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Happy Hour Monday-Friday 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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