On an unassuming street in East Hollywood, women in cocktail dresses and men in jackets glide through what appears to be an ordinary doorway, climb a flight of stairs, then walk into a plain room where a young woman instructs them to open the doors of an armoire and step through to the other side. Disoriented, guests eagerly do as instructed. Within seconds, they find themselves on a balcony overlooking a room straight out of Cuba, circa 1930.
This is the front room of La Descarga, a place where bands play Latin music, burlesque dancers tantalize, and bartenders preside over a burnished bar with a rum-centric display of bottles that appears to soar all the way to heaven. Bar Manager Steve Livigni and cocktail consultant Pablo Moix selected the bar’s 110 rums and created the punches and cocktail menu, which ranges from a classic daiquiri to signature sips like their Tropical Holiday. Livigni and Moix’s drinks are beautifully balanced, and enjoying them under the amber glow of La Descarga’s chandelier elevates the cocktail experience.
La Descarga is a place for rum novices and aficionados alike to explore the spirit. Bartenders might urge staunch whiskey or Manhattans drinkers to try Tapping the Admiral, a cocktail made with aged rum. Those who want to explore rum aged anywhere from two to 30 years will be at home in La Descarga’s intimate back room, where the bartender pours flights of rum and sells hand-rolled Payne-Mason cigars; it’s a scene fit for Hemmingway.
The visionaries behind La Descarga are Mark and Jonnie Houston. The 32-year-old twins develop experiential nightlife venues that, Mark explains, “take people to another place and time.” In 2009, they transformed Hollywood’s Piano Bar into a New Orleans-inspired jazz and blues club, which they followed by opening La Descarga in February 2010.
Where will the Houston brothers next take revelers? Paris. Their Art Nouveau-style lounge Pour Vous is slated to open in later this year, and has an aphrodisiac theme guaranteed to make guests swoon.
Where: 1159 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029
When: 8 PM to 2 AM, Tuesday -Saturday
How: Make a reservation, 323-466-1324
Price: Cocktails range from $9-$14