515 W. 7th St., 2nd fl, Downtown
A semisecret door inside Seven Grand opens onto L.A.’s most intimate whiskey bar, which holds about 20 imbibers watched over by a phalanx of taxidermied rabbit heads that have sprouted antlers. Japanese whisky is a specialty. “When I think about whiskey, it’s like I’m analyzing music,” says bartender Linh Do of Bar Jackalope, whose tasting notes might refer to Thomas Pynchon or Tupac Shakur. An aspiring poet, Do was 25 when she ordered her first scotch in hopes of finding poetic inspiration. After one dram, she quit her job as a social worker and flew to Scotland. At Bar Jackalope, where Do often dons a hand-embroidered dress that pays tribute to a favorite distillery, she’s become one of the most compelling new voices in L.A.’s spirits scene.
The Daily Pint
2310 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica
L.A.’s most impressive whiskey selection is served in this beyond-modest Santa Monica watering hole, amid scarred pool tables and football banners. Bourbon lovers can order a $250 Pappy Van Winkle flight, while scotch fanatics can choose from nearly a dozen peaty bottlings by the long-shuttered Port Ellen distillery.
Everson Royce Bar
1936 E. 7th St., downtown
What small-batch bourbon should you pair with a grilled chorizo burger? Glad you asked. The bartenders at the Arts District’s stylish destination are adept at teasing out your passions and aversions as they guide you through the book-length bar list.
Saint & Second
4828 E. 2nd St., Long Beach
The Intro to Whisky flight at this Long Beach bar and restaurant transports the neophyte to a world of rarefied surprises. It’s good preparation for a selection that includes single-barrel, Chicago-made Koval spelt whiskey and Balcones Brimstone, a fiery corn whiskey.
53 E. Union St., Pasadena
The donkey mascots may be blindfolded, but there’s nothing blinkered about the whiskey menu, which dares patrons to branch out. (“Oddballs” is a fun category.) Offered at a discount, two-inch pours can be split into a pair of glasses so you and a buddy can compare tasting notes.