When Eat: Los Angeles shut down, it was a sad day. We lost a valuable "Off-Ramp" contributor, and residents lost a smart guide to all the places you can get food and drink in Southern California. So we were glad to hear that Colleen Dunn Bates and her Prospect Parks Books team revived a part of Eat: L.A. in a pocket-sized book, "Drink: Los Angeles."
"We realized," says Bates, Drink L.A.'s editor, "that the city has become a locus for great drinking. And that did not used to be the case for L.A. We were outshone in many departments: there were better cities for beer, better cities to drink wine. There were certainly better cities for bars, and better cities for coffee. But now L.A. is holding its own if not leading in many of those categories."
BUY: "Drink: Los Angeles" from Vroman's
What happened? Contributing editor Garrett Snyder says, "One of the main strengths for L.A.'s drinking culture is what you'll find in arts, architecture, food, things like that, is that there's a lack of tradition. That used to be a negative, but I feel like now it allows — whether you're in beer, coffee, cocktails — to kind of strip things down and not have a dogmatic view of what you should have. It's produced a lot of things that are exciting, and aren't going on in the rest of the country."
"Drink: Los Angeles" includes more than 500 listings for great booze and juice bars, beer taprooms, wine stores, coffee houses, even boba shops. What you won't find: chain shops and eateries, and places that suck. They prefer to simply focus on the good and ignore the bad.
The guide also breaks down Southern California by region, and includes do-it-yourself pub-crawls in various hip neighborhoods. And for those of us who are getting increasingly crotchety about the noise level at many bars, look for the "ear" symbol, which denotes a place where you can hold a (reasonably) quiet conversation.