Drink like a 1900s auto racer in Los Angeles
Themed as a tribute to famous auto racer Barney Oldfield, Oldfield’s Liquor Room emulates an old-timey watering hole. (Caroline Pardilla)
The recently opened Oldfield’s Liquor Room, the 1933 Group’s newest venture, brings a much needed cocktail-savvy spot to Palms, a Los Angeles neighbourhood known more for its variety of ethnic restaurants than for its nightlife.
Taking over the space formerly occupied by the raucous den of iniquity Saints and Sinners, Oldfields is more sophisticated in decor, drinks and clientele than its predecessor.
Themed as a tribute to famous turn-of-the-century auto racer and former Culver City resident, Barney Oldfield, the bar hearkens back to Oldfield’s heyday and emulates an old-timey watering hole that he might have frequented with his racing cronies. The lights are low but the room is awash in white -- white tile walls and white marble top tables -- with punctuations of dark wood throughout. Reclaimed fixtures like a wood bar from Wisconsin, back room doors from a 1930s cafe in Paris and wall sconces from a shuttered Connecticut convent contribute to that other-era feel. Bartenders sport sharp, white bow ties and aprons, resembling soda jerks. Except here you can get them to pour you a ginger beer with artisanal bottled soda.
The cocktail menu has been crafted by some of the city’s best (specifically bartenders from La Descarga and Rivera) and uses farm-fresh and house-made ingredients – the grenadine, falernum and syrups are all made behind the bar. You’ll find unusual variations on classics, try a Moscow Mule made with gin and port wine reduction instead of vodka and ginger beer, or a Manhattan made with walnut liqueur in addition to the rye and sweet vermouth. Punch bowls are available for those who travel in a gang of six or more.
Drinkers preparing for the long night of boozing can fortify their bellies with simple Euro-style sandwiches, designed by a cheese monger from Joan’s on Third. The sandwiches are made in limited quantities at the start of each day. Or grab dinner beforehand in one of Culver City's many restaurants nearby, and close the evening with a cigar and an Oldfield’s Hemingway – a cocktail of Bulleit Rye, maraschino, cane sugar and fresh juices – on the bar’s sidewalk patio looking out on Venice Boulevard.
Caroline Pardilla is the Los Angeles Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes Carolineoncrack.com.