Party Earth Review Marked only by a small drawing of a cocktail, the discreet entrance to The Varnish at the back of Cole’s restaurant lends an air of secrecy and forbidden frolicking to this updated speakeasy in downtown LA. A tiny one... ... read full review
118 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Red Line: Pershing Square; Purple Line: Pershing Square
Downtown, Los Angeles –
Marked only by a small drawing of a cocktail, the discreet entrance to The Varnish at the back of Cole’s restaurant lends an air of secrecy and forbidden frolicking to this updated speakeasy in downtown LA.
A tiny one-room haven catering to a clientele of cool east-siders, after-work types, and loyal regulars, the venue’s fifty-person capacity means that patrons are guaranteed personal attention, from the waitresses who greet everyone on arrival to the expert mixologists who take their time to carefully craft each drink and chat with the artsy guests about the cocktail-making process.
Vintage slatted-wood booths offer groups of hipsters a cozy place to hang for the night, while couples can share more intimate moments at the small café tables in the middle of the dimly lit space.
Penny-tiled floors, antique crystal sconces, an old map of LA, and red velvet wallpaper contribute to the cozy Prohibition-era vibe, as do the piano players who favor Charleston standards and the laid-back patrons themselves, some of whom even dress in 20s garb or wear flowers in their hair.
Although The Varnish can get more uproarious on the weekends, the real focus of this easygoing yet lively late-night spot is on gathering with friends for fantastic cocktails in a quirky, hush-hush atmosphere.
Edgy artsy types, hipsters, downtown locals, after-work crowd, and cocktail connoisseurs, 20s to 60s.
Live piano music Monday and Tuesday nights at 9pm featuring standards from the Jazz Age.
Beer $7+, wine $10–$12, cocktails $12+.
Vintage dresses and suits, after-work attire, funky casual.
Fridays and Saturdays for the biggest crowds, Mondays and Tuesdays for the piano music.
The Varnish is located inside Cole’s restaurant, the self-proclaimed originator of the French dip sandwich. Open until 1am on the weekends.