The Association

20s / 30s / 80s Music / Bar / Button-downs / DJ / Flirty / Happy Hour / High Heels / Hipster / Jeans / Locals / Lounge / Skirts / Snack Food / Young Professionals
The Association With an entrance down a flight of stairs to the basement of a residential loft building – and marked only by a black door adorned with a brass lion's-head knocker – The Association is a discreet little hideaway perfect for... Los Angeles United States 34.045223 -118.250222
4.12 10
The Association - Bar | Lounge in Los Angeles.
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Party Earth Review With an entrance down a flight of stairs to the basement of a residential loft building – and marked only by a black door adorned with a brass lion’s-head knocker – The Association is a discreet little hideaway perfect... ... read full review

  • Metro:

    Red Line: Pershing Square; Purple Line: Pershing Square

  • Phone:


  • Links:

  • Hours:

    M–F 5pm–2am, Sa–Su 7pm–2am

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Party Earth The Association Review

The Scene

With an entrance down a flight of stairs to the basement of a residential loft building – and marked only by a black door adorned with a brass lion's-head knocker – The Association is a discreet little hideaway perfect for...

With an entrance down a flight of stairs to the basement of a residential loft building – and marked only by a black door adorned with a brass lion’s-head knocker – The Association is a discreet little hideaway perfect for furtive meetings and romantic rendezvous.

An understated but stylish décor of glass chandeliers, brown leather Chesterfield banquettes, dark wood tables, and a thick patterned carpet brought in from a Vegas casino creates a sleek and sexy subterranean lounge vibe where fashionable young professionals and upscale hipsters get tipsy and mingle to the tune of DJ-spun retro classics as handsome bartenders behind the long bar serve up specialty cocktails with names like Brown Derby and French 76.

Huge mirrors help friendly patrons on the prowl exchange flirtatious glances, while three semi-private enclaves running the length of the room provide space for boisterous groups to hold court, and several shadowy nooks lend themselves to more intimate conversations.

Once patrons get a few vodka cocktails under their belts, The Association gets plenty loud and impetuous and turns into a buzzing social scene all about making eyes and meeting new people.

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Tip from Emma:

If you’re with a group and you’d like some privacy, the best seats in the house are in the semi-secret enclave that’s hidden around a corner to the left of the entrance.

  • Crowd

    Frisky, friendly, well-dressed young professionals, downtown locals, and hipsters, mid-20s to 30s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Music tends toward retro 80s hits. DJ on weekends.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Small meat and crackers plates. Happy Hour M–F 5–9pm.

  • Prices

    Small plates $3. Beer $6+, cocktails $10+.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Jeans and button-downs or slacks and blazers for guys, skirts, dresses, heels, and occasionally jeans for women.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Fridays and Saturdays for the flirtiest and most outgoing crowd.

  • Close By

    The speakeasy-themed The Varnish next door (118 East 6th Street) offers some of the most fanciful and creative mixology cocktails in town.

The Association User Reviews

Average rating:
The Premise
Zach T. Sep 27, 2013
Considering its exclusivity, room selection, and promiscuous nature: The Association encompasses a diverse atmosphere that captures the essence of Downtown LA with flare. Glass chandeliers, dark wood tables, and an interesting array of carpet stimulate its subterranean vibe setting the ambiance. With enclaves and niches that enhance court, the lounge is frequently filled with retro hipsters and young professionals interested in the premise of intimacy. The milieu of the lounge is predominantly controlled by a DJ focusing on 80's throwback hits, acceptable drink prices, and a semi-casually dress code that makes meeting and establishing new relationships extremely fun.
Georgina S. Nov 28, 2012
Friend brought me here on a random summer night. I LOVED IT. I can't wait to go back. It's hard to find because it's speakeasy-themed which makes you feel pretty cool. They don't really have food, but that's not why you're there anyways. Happy hour is SUPER SWEET because it lasts until 9 pm!!! So so so nice. Come dressed fancy-trendy or else you'll feel under dressed. The retro vibe makes it extra cool. Even though you're in kind of a weird area, there are enough other places right around to make you feel safe. I absolute love the Association and can't wait to come back.
One of the Best DTLA Bars.
Armen M. Nov 28, 2012
This spot can be difficult to find, but sometimes the best bars are tucked away just waiting to be discovered. It's down 6th Street, not too far from a dodgier part of town. The only thing setting it apart is a big black door that's at the base of a shadowy flight of concrete stairs. If you aren't looking for it, chances are you'll walk right past without even noticing. But once you do find it and step inside, you'll never want to leave. At least that's how I felt. On your first walk to the bar you'll be immediately blown away by the old school funk and hip-hop jams the DJ is spinning. A Tribe Called Quest? Yes. David Bowie? More please. You get the sense that the people who run this joint (and the customers) really know GOOD music, beyond Waka Flocka and Chris Brown. We all know how pretentious LA nightlife can become: some snob talking about what kind of car he drives, some girl asking you what kind of car YOU drive, etc. If you're looking for that kind of experience, this place is not for you. The Association is filled with young people with nothing to prove, but with everything to talk about. If you show up with a group of friends, be prepared to make more friends here. People here aren't afraid to break out of their social comfort bubbles and interact. This is a place where you'll be meeting and engaging with a diverse group of students/9-to-5ers/artists and more. Although the mixology might not be as masterful as The Varnish across the street, bartenders here are still incredibly receptive and do solid work. On top of that, the ambiance is pure swankiness. The whole place is dimly lit, with retro-looking leather couches and groovy red lighting that floods the floor and reflects off the wall mirrors. Everything about this place is old school. Almost scummy, but in a good way. It's like you've stepped into one of those nightclubs from Swingers or Goodfellas. So if you're out in DTLA and you want to get away from the run-of-the-mill Los Angeles nightlife, you must stop by The Association.
Luxury and Affordability, does it get any better?
Jackie D. Sep 20, 2012
Lavish, private and ultimately seductive, the Association is the haven for high quality cocktails without the price tag or the attitude. With the hype that surrounds the Los Angeles cocktail renaissance, a bartender's knowledge and skill can create a slippery slope to the elitist "better than thou" perspective. Somehow, the Association manages to avoid all of the snobbery and instead has some of the most nonchalant and charismatic bartenders downtown. Trends? Hype? For all I know, they created the cocktail hype in downtown and have yet to take credit for it. Each of their bartenders hones an unfathomable amount of knowledge on premium spirits, so if it's a slow night be sure to ask them a couple questions and they will gladly help you bolster up your liquor trivia as you imbibe. If you're feeling adventurous, have the bartender cater towards your taste. Their selection of fresh fruit juices, egg whites and spirits provides them with a vast toolbox and they are bound to shake up a drink attuned to your palette. If you don't want to leave all of the guesswork up to them, try out one of their three nightly specials. Each night three brand new creations are scrawled on a chalkboard above the bar that center on a particular theme. And don't worry, the bartenders have done their fair share of sampling beforehand, so you know you won't have a difficult time guzzling one down. When it's time to move away from the bar, sink into the sexy black leather couches that line their walls. The lush red lighting that glows throughout the lounge only furthers the allure of this casually upscale bar and your own personal radiance. With all of the talent behind the bar, this is the place to be on the weekend. So put on your heels and don't look back once you walk through the door, because the night is young and the Association is waiting.
The place to play in DTLA
Melissa C. Sep 12, 2012
Maybe I am biased because I live within stumbling distance but it’s one of my favorite hang outs in downtown Los Angeles. The place itself is a bit hidden and kind of intimidating, there’s no sign or marking for the bar, it’s just a big dark brown door with a lion door knocker and a muscular bouncer. It's not your typical Hollywood bar it's dark and cozy and plays music by The Smiths, The Cure and other 80's alt rock bands. The drink menu consists of classic cocktails that seem to be trending throughout LA. Try their Sazerac, Hemingway, or Dark and Stormy, all very different but so good. They have a great happy hour with $5 cocktails and mini cheese plates, though about 60% of the time they are out of cheeses. Oh and then there’s Alex, the man with the mustache. Alex is a bartender who teaches a free hour long cocktail class on Wednesdays at 7pm. He goes over bar basics introducing the necessary tools, tips and tricks for mixing and shaking, and staples on what to stock your bar with. Every week is a new class theme and he somehow makes each class interesting, even when you've been to dozens like myself. My favorite part of the class is sampling the 2-3 cocktails he teaches. It’s a fun way to learn and sample new drinks and best of all it’s free! It also doesn't hurt that Alex is easy on the eyes and rocks the best mustache in town. Unfortunately I've noticed a lot of people in the class enjoy the free drinks and the effort Alex puts into the class but rarely tip. That’s just tacky and bad manners; the class is worth throwing Alex a $5 or $10. Visit The Association and make sure you have a way home; the drinks are tasty and strong!
Leave after happy hour, but come back for last call!
Nikki L. Aug 24, 2012
The Association isn't bad. I gave it an extra star because their music choice isn't Hollywood club unbearable, and they do have a solid happy hour. It's definitely trying to be sexy, and maybe trying a bit too hard. With all the dark wood, and the red velvet, it gets to feel a little sleazy. There are dark corner lounges along the right side of the space, and some super secluded ones in the very front and back. These are huge, but only have seats along the sides, so not very many people can sit there and no one really wants to stand in it if everyone else is sitting. Walking down the hall feels like peeking into a brothel. Happy hour is early, around 5 p.m., and cocktails are only $5, which is great for a downtown. It's a little hidden down the stairs next to Cole's, so you might miss it. But remember to come back there for last call. They don't ring the bell until 2 a.m., and the place just keeps getting livelier. So it's pretty neat early on and definitely there for you at the end, but you'll kind of want to skip what's in between. A little like raising a kid.
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