Hark! There are now whiskey cocktails and cocktails made with fresh juices and housemade syrups at the Abbey. That’s right, at that huge coffeehouse and bar right off Robertson Boulevard in Boys’ Town known for its flavored ‘tinis and mojitos.
The beloved West Hollywood bar, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this May, has always been known as the place to meet up with friends day or night. It’s garnered a slew of accolades, from The Best Gay Bar in L.A. according to LA Weekly, to the most popular bar dropoff in the U.S. according to Lyft. All this even though it’s one of the last bars standing offering a Key Lime Martini.
The Abbey could have rested on its…giant martini glasses? But instead the bar decided to update its cocktail program to feature fresh ingredients as well as expand its menu to include whiskey, gin, “LGB-Tiki,” and coffee cocktails. A smart move considering it started filming its own reality show last year and it’s expanding next door later this year. The spotlight is about to get ginormous.
Leading the charge for getting crafty is consulting mixologist Armando Conway. He had previously worked at the bar for 10 years while also putting in hours at some of L.A.’s top craft cocktail bars. Suffice it to say he had been trying to get the bar to update its menu for a long while. “I was working at La Descarga in 2009 [while working at the Abbey] and then Hakkasan and I’ve always been, ‘Hey, why don’t we do this?'” he says. But it wasn’t til David Cooley, founder of the Abbey, bought back SBE’s stake last summer that they decided to finally move with the trends of craft cocktails.
“Nowadays if you don’t have a nice cocktail program, it doesn’t attract,” says Conway. And what with nearby cocktail-serious venues, like Gracias Madre and Cecconi’s, The Abbey had to get with the times. So they updated the well with “better” booze and chucked all the prepackaged juices and corn syrup for fresh and housemade ingredients. Now the team makes cold pressed watermelon, ginger, and jalapeno juices.
But, since the bar still deals in high volume, Conway made sure to design cocktails that are quick to build, while still being fresh. The margaritas are now made with agave nectar and housemade sour mixes. The daiquiris here are shaken, not blended. Simple fixes that don’t slow down the cocktail making process but do improve the drinks.
“We care what you put inside of yourself, that’s the philosophy so we just wanted to do something right for the clientele that we have for years,” says Conway.
And thanks to the popularity of whiskey and classic cocktails, there is now an Old Fashioned, Boulevardier, and Gold Rush on the menu. They also never offered a Moscow Mule before because of the volume of copper mugs they would need. But thanks to Stoli, a stock of 500 mugs is replenished every a month. The Moscow Mule is now the Abbey’s third most popular cocktail.
Longtime Abbey fans have no need to worry about their beloved flavored mojitos and boozy lemonades going away. Those are still on the menu — along with favorites like the Wild Berry Martini — just updated with better ingredients. The wine program has also been supersized with low to mid-tier to high-end choices, and more options by the glass and the bottle. And there are now more types of beer available other than light beer. Yes, you can order an IPA here.
Looking at what is the largest menu the Abbey has ever offered may feel overwhelming and for most places it’s usually not a good idea to lay out too many options. But this makes perfect sense at the Abbey. Open at 11 a.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. on weekends, and running through til 2 a.m., drinkers need the variety to suit every time of day.
The Abbey, 692 North Robertson Boulevard, West Hollywood, 310-289-8410