Saturday, December 26, 2009

Angel's Piano Bar: an undiscovered gem in Santa Monica East

Last night I was invited to my first ever tweetup (meeting of people completely organized via twitter) by my buddy Andy. Being the grinch I am, I was eager to leave my mom's house in the suburbs and rejoin civilization. The #xmasmeetup was organzied by Mike of Kogi PR and set to take place at Angel's Piano Bar in Santa Monica on the corner of Wilshire and 25th. I had read a few press bits about this place, but it seemed to be operating mostly under the radar so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. But once inside, I was so pleasantly surprised!

It was pretty empty when we arrived, as would be expected on Christmas night around 10pm. But the atmosphere felt warm and inviting without that awkward feeling you sometimes get when stepping into a not-too-crowded bar. There is the main lounge area off to the right that has several small tables illuminated by candles and a leather bench along the wall. The baby grand piano and a retro style mic is within eyeshot of about 80% of the bar. Further back, there is a larger area that can probably fit around 20 people in comfortable elegance. Much of the decor was trimmed in white leather or floral gold leaf creating a vibe that reminded me of part Moulin Rouge, part rich uncle, and part boudoir. Or maybe even a smaller westside version of Edison Lounge in Downtown LA.

After a nice conversation with their super cool and friendly bartender guy (forgot to get his name), I decided to try their absinthe. It's presented using a fancy looking carafe and a special slotted spoon to hold the sugar. I learned several things about absinthe by chatting with the bartender:
  1. Angel's only carries Lucid absinthe which is 125 proof (good times, indeed)
  2. Lucid has a full serving/dose(?) of wormwood which people often consider the measure of "real" absinthe
  3. Absinthe's original hallucinogenic property is attributed to their aging in lead barrels (no illegal) which essentially poisoned you into seeing dancing mushrooms.
It's a bit pricey yes ($15), but WHEW it packed a punch! After one drink, Andy and I were both feeling pretty toasty. We were also able to convince a few others to try this magical potion :)

Their other cocktails range from $11-15 and the Angel's Lemon Verbena I tried was a nice balance of crisp, sweet, and tart with the rosemary garnish. Apparently they have food too until 11pm.

I'd definitely recommend this place as an intimate date spot or as a fun pub crawl away from the noisy overgrown frat boys at V Lounge and the Gas Lite down the street. This place is within walking distance of The Wilshire and South which would make a nice pub crawl trifecta with Angel's.

Other notes:
  • Plenty of parking in front thanks to meters which end at 6pm
  • No beers on tap (boo) but they do have bottles
  • Happy hour is 6-8p and all night long on Tuesdays!!

Angel's Piano Bar and Supper Club
2460 Wilshire Boulevard
(cross street: 25th)
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 828-2115

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