You can still get plenty of the vodka-like Korean firewater known as soju (as well as beer), but K-Town now rivals DTLA as the next wave for nightlife, with its playground of high-concept bars and exquisite cocktails. Soak up the scene at these five hot spots.
Break Room 86
Mark and Jonnie Houston are like the Bill and Ted of time-traveling watering holes (their ’70s-themed Good Times at Davey Wayne’s and speakeasy-style No Vacancy come to mind). The brothers’ latest is a spirited homage to the 1980s. On any given night you can enjoy a Michael Jackson impersonator, unlimited Pac-Man play, and a rotating menu of boozy reboots of childhood treats like Push Pops that have been infused with liquor. Private karaoke rooms (called noraebang) are available to rent. » 630 S. Ardmore Ave.
Tucked inside the Hotel Normandie on 6th Street is a sophisticated, dimly lit respite from the raucous revelry around the corner at the Line hotel. Bartenders in vintage-looking Hawaiian shirts serve freshened-up classics like the sherry martini and the spiced old-fashioned. » 3612 W. 6th St.
The Walker Inn
Behind a secret door at the Normandie Club is—straws down—the best cocktail experience in Los Angeles. Reserve a couple of bar stools for you and a companion to sample the oma-kase-style cocktail service, in which a mixologist leads you on a liquid journey choreographed by theme. A road trip up Pacific Coast Highway was part of a recent cocktail program. This is advanced bartending, with such high-tech tools as a centrifuge that pro–duces graham cracker-“spiked” bourbon and watermelon juice-white wine blends. » 3612 W. 6th St.
The Mezcaleria at Guelaguetza
Although the 15-year-old family-owned restaurant won a James Beard award this year for its authentic Oaxacan cuisine, Guela-guetza is also agave heaven. Explore the selection of 150 spirits handpicked by owner Bricia Lopez as well as a menu
of spicy tequila and mescal libations. » 3014 W. Olympic Blvd.
At nearly 100 years old, this standby isn’t at the cutting edge of anything, but a guest appearance on Mad Men did give the red vinyl booths some star luster. End the night as Don Draper might: Skip all that jigger juggling and order a straight whiskey. » 3198½ W. 7th St.