Idle Hour’s Cocktails Are Worth a Pit Stop in North Hollywood

Oh, you’ll have a barrel of fun all right

Tomorrow 1933 Group’Idle Hour finally opens its doors to a waiting public eager to see what the nightlife group has done to restore the 75-year-old barrel-shaped bar in North Hollywood. So, why a giant barrel? The bar originated during that time in L.A. in the 1940s when automobiles really started to become a thing. This eye-catching style of architecture was meant to make an immediate impression on the motorists who were speeding by. And Idle Hour is one of the last of this style, achieving landmark status as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2010 thanks to Los Angeles magazine’s own Chris Nichols. 1933 Group’s project took three years to complete and it appears to be worth it.

Attention wasn’t just paid to the barrel bar, the 24 taps, and the giant bulldog event space in the back, but also to the food as well as the drink program, which was created by barman Chris Amirault (Harlowe). As per the bar group’s M.O., they made sure the theme of the bar was carried out in its menus, too.

As homage to the bar’s history, the theme here is Americana. For Amirault, that meant highlighting the fact that the cocktail was an American invention. Therefore, each one of his new cocktails can be traced back to the older basic families of cocktails. “The whole goal was to take your 14 families of cocktails and really make sure we were paying homage to those but also do them in inventive, fresh, delicious ways,” he says.

For his “World’s Greatest Cosmopolitan,” he created an apple cranberry shrub with Granny Smith apples, apple cider vinegar, and fresh cranberries with sugar. It’ll change your mind about the cocktail that was made popular by Sex and the City and done badly ever since. “I wanted to do a Cosmo that I could be proud of. I think a lot of Cosmos are really bad because you’re not using fresh juice,” says Amirault.

But nothing here is too complicated. It’s all straightforward. “We wanted our cocktail program to be really accessible so the guests will be able to take a look at the menu and understand every ingredient.”

Funny enough, despite the barrels everywhere (I counted seven total including the ones in the window glass), this isn’t going to be a whiskey bar. And, nope, they don’t have barrel-aged cocktails, either–at least not yet. Amirault points out that since American distilleries are now producing spirits other than whiskey, his program will feature all kinds.

As for beer, there will be 18 to 24 on tap, including four rotating seasonals. Another tap might be used for house-made ginger beer while one is reserved for “a super-secret thing that they can’t talk about yet,” says Amirault. “Once we get the license, it’s a never-before-seen beverage on draft. We would be the first ones in L.A. to get the license to do it so we’re really excited.”

The bar and restaurant opens its doors tomorrow at 5 p.m. If it’s too crazy inside, there’s also a mobile bar outside that will also serve up the full cocktail menu. Bonus about that back patio? It’s dog-friendly, and I’m not just talking about that giant bulldog.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day.

redarrow Idle Hour, 4824 N. Vineland Ave., North Hollywood, 818-980-5600