No big travel plans this summer? Not to worry as there is a passport that you can use without having to leave town and unlike your regular ol’ passport this one will give you access to drink deals at 60 L.A. bars from now through Labor Day.
This summer marks only the second year in Los Angeles for the Passport Program, which launched in Denver in 2013 and is available in other cities. And even though the number of participating bars has dropped from 80 last year to 60 this year, the offerings still showcase some of the city’s top drinking spots, like Spare Room and Seven Grand.
The way the program works is that you order up the $20 passport and then take it to any of the participating bars for the featured deal and a stamp in your book. This just prevents folks from accessing the deal more than one time. The deals usually knock off a few bucks off the cocktail’s regular price. For instance EP & LP’s Rocky Balboba cocktail is normally $15 but you can get it for a ten-spot with the passport.
And don’t think that the featured cocktails are just glorified happy hour specials, which are usually simple cocktails made with cheap booze. (Although you can get Harlowe’s delicious draft Old Fashioned for $8 here and during its happy hour.) According to the Passport Program website, the cocktails were actually chosen by the bars to “show off their bar program.”
At the Spare Room, the ever-changing chalkboard special is featured. “The chalkboard is indicative of what we are currently excited about in terms of culture, seasonality, highlighting a specific bartenders’ work, etc.,” says Spare Room beverage director Yael Vengroff.
While at The Pikey, they went with their most popular drink, the Ginger Minge. The Pikey owner Jared Meisler says, “The punchy fresh ginger blends with the smokey flavor from the scotch and the citrus brightens everything up. People like the familiar ‘mule’ flavors, taken a step further.”
So what do the bars get for participating in the program? Simply more exposure and a chance to show off their cocktails. “We hope to use it as a tool to gain repeat business,” says Vengroff. While Meisler liked that it seemed focused toward cocktail lovers. “We are very proud of our cocktail program and want to share our drinks with as many cocktail enthusiasts as we can reach.”
Feeling overwhelmed by the 60 deals? Here are just a few of my personal favorites off the list.
- EP & LP: $10 Rocky Balboba (Aperol, dry gin, lemon juice, bubbles, orange boba pearls)
- Far Bar: $7 Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned on Draft
- Harlowe: $8 Draft Old Fashioned
- The Hungry Cat: $7 Greyhound Proper (Plymouth gin, grapefruit, candied grapefruit)
- Lost Property: $8 Gold Rush
- Minibar: $8 Godfather 101 or Harvey Wallbanger
- The Pikey: $7 Ginger Minge (Famous Grouse Scotch, ginger juice, lemon juice, ginger beer)
- Power House: $8 Specialty Cocktail
- The Spare Room: $10 Chalkboard Special
- Wolf: $8 Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (Tito’s vodka, elderflower, cucumber, habanero, lemon)
- Wolf & Crane: $8 Wolf & Crane Highball
So you won’t get a special prize if you hit all the bars and collect all the stamps but you will more than recoup your $20 in savings.