Hey, Blue Derkin - Where You Been At?

Hey. Remember me?
OK, strike that. Man! I did NOT want to start things back up like this.
I'm not sure how I wanted to start things back up. It wasn't like this, though. I thought it would be friendlier, more convivial -- like, "Hey. Do you still like Happy Hours? What, don't you drink anymore? Ah, I've been there. Want a cig? What? You don't do that either?"
Don't Start Rumors

Easy there, rumor-monger. First of all, I still drink. True, I don't smoke anymore, but it's a less a health issue than a "sick of getting nagged by my wife, mother, and sisters" issue. And yes -- I still enjoy Happy Hours.

Speaking of things I enjoy, I enjoy money. And while I don't necessarily enjoy working, I personally can't think of of a better way to get money. And believe me, I've tried. I've tried inheriting it, I've tried getting people to pay me rent, I've tried collecting dividends -- none of these methods brought in money as reliably as working at a job.
So It's Gonna Be Like That, Is It?

So that's what I did, and I went out there and worked at some places. One sold juice and other stuff, and another hosted web sites (it's particularly strong in the VPS hosting field, a difficult subject at the best of times, but pretty ably explained in this article by one Blue Derkin).
Which Brings Us To Pretty Much Now, Then

And that's what I've been doing. And I've gone to the occasional Happy Hour. Palomino is good. They have an "all night long" kinda thing, with $5 pizzas, half-price appetizers, and $4 wine. BarFood is nice as well -- they do an "all night every night" thing too, at least for now) with free hotdogs until 7:00 PM, $3.50 pints, and cheap appetizers. I also like their potato puffs. And there are other ones, too.
He Said "Other Ones." What Does That Mean?

Speaking of "other" and "ones," some "other ones" are out there as well. I've seen at least three other Los Angeles-themed Happy Hour blogs out there. All three are fine blogs -- a little girly for my tastes, but the world certainly needs a view from the softer side's perspective So I guess it's all well and good to bring back a little dose of manly to this scene.
Oh, Man - Did He Just Call Himself "Manly?"

So welcome back. To me.


'Tis The Season

...for sleigh-rides to great-uncle's, for music on the victrola and harpsichord, for battercakes and meat-pies, and, of course, for desserts replete with pepper-fruits and salt-tokens.

What I wish it were more often the season for is regular, more frequent updates. I'm not one to admit fault (generally speaking -- ask my wife), but I will admit a certain level of slacking when it's come to regular posting.

Here's the problem -- when you write a blog about Happy Hours, that means you have to a) go to Happy Hours; and b) find the time to write about them. Since August, I've done and had neither.

Sorry. We'll be back after the new year. Best to you, and yours.


La Vie Est Belle at La Poubelle

There's an old saying that goes something like "Life is what happens when you're making other plans."

I suppose that's a propos enough, but in my case, it's more like "Life gets in the way of my plans."

For example, I've been planning to post this review for some time now, but certain boring and mundane details of my life have intruded on those plans.

But there's no use in lamenting the past -- the most beautiful life, I've found, is one where excuses are washed away in waves of fine food and drink, in seas of friendship, and clouds of fragrant, delicious smoke.
Such was the case this summer, when Francoise and Jinnie hosted the HappyHourLA crew at La Poubelle, which is, without question, one of my favorite eating and drinking establishment in the Hollywood area.

Why should an unassuming French bistro, open these past forty years, hold such an esteemed place in the heart of this seeker of the good time value? In a word: hospitality.

From the moment you walk through La Poubelle, which looks out on a bustling stretch of Franklin Avenue, you are welcomed as a friend, a family member, a guest, a lover or a co-conspirator -- you can be many things at La Poubelle, but you are never simply a patron.

It's this sort of continental feeling at La Poubelle that makes you want to spend an entire evening there. Sidle, swagger, or swish up to the bar and order that first drink -- no worries, there'll soon be some food to accompany that libation. Have another, or maybe go out onto the patio to let the gloaming envelop you while a comrade and a cigarette keep you company. In a short time, you'll likely be surrounded by your dearest friends (some of whom you may have just met), and it's not outside of the realm of possibility that one of those will be the owner.

Try feeling that vibe at another place around town. I'll be on the patio at La Poubelle, waiting for you to come back and admit that such a place, except the one at which you just arrived, simply does not exist in Los Angeles.

Unique, remarkable, perfect -- that's what we look for in a Five Ring Friday, and that's why we'll be having another at La Poubelle, just as soon as they ask us back. We'll be there.

And I could wax poetic all day about this wonderful place, and the wonderful staff that makes you feel like so much more than a customer, and the owners, Francoise and Jacqueline, whose continental sensibilities imbue the entire operation with a certain je ne sais quois -- it's easy enough to go on and on about. But I think I'll leave it at "thank you" -- thanks to Francoise and Jacqueline, to Jinnie, to Johnny, to Tess, to Janean, to Blue Moon and Peroni, and finally, to everyone who attended. I appreciate your support for our venture. But, like when they say, "Instead of flowers, please give to...," I would say instead of supporting me, support wonderful local establishments like La Poubelle. It's what HappyHourLA is all about -- good food, good drinks, good friends, and great deals.


.38 Special and 38 Specials

Name: South
Coordinates: 3001 Wilshire Blvd., 90403
Neighborhood: SaMo -- ok, only tools say that. Santa Monica.
Happiest Hours: Plenty, but for starters, M-F 3-8pm. Read the review, jerks!

There's no shortage of urban dwellers who have strange and often misguided opinions about the rest of the country. Not me, of course. I'm the very apogee of fairness and judiciousness. I have perfectly accurate, healthy, and informed views about other parts of this great country, this hemisphere, and the world at large.

But alas, not everyone can be as cosmopolitan and well-informed as me. In fact, it's been to my horror and chagrin that I've realized that most people AREN'T that way.

For example.

My beloved wife, who grew up here in Los Angeles, took a road trip across the Deep South a couple of years ago. While she found the scenery beautiful, the company delightful, and the time off relaxing, she kept running into attitudes that horrified her beyond words. Like the time she and her friend asked a woman convenience-store clerk for directions, and were told, "You know, I don't rightly know. Y'all should ask a man."

I like to imagine that, in the wife's head, a record screeched to a halt.

My point here (and of course I have a point) is that while I, great respecter of cultural differences that I am, would have found that to be a charming throwback to a more genteel time and place. My wife, on the other hand, didn't quite see things that way.

I guess I just have more innate tolerance for cultural differences.

While the above story might well accurately represent The South, it doesn't really do justice to South, the LA-area's version of our neighbors below the Mason-Dixon Line. But then again, it's a certain version of The South -- less mint juleps, seersucker, and gentlemanly duels for honor and more General Lee, Southern Rock, and shooting guns in the air to celebrate major holidays and life occasions.

Oh, and specials. Amazing Happy Hour specials.

And not just Happy Hour specials.

The Vitals: South has, near as I can reckon, one of the finest Happy Hours on the Westside, going from 3-8pm Monday through Fridays, during which all pitchers of draft beer are $10, well drinks are cheap, and certain appetizers are half-off. But it doesn't stop there -- not by a country mile. South ALSO has (as it was my enormous pleasure to discover) Trivia Night on Wednesdays! It's hosted by owner Adam Milstein -- who does a fine job -- and features a pretty robust prize structure. Moreover, during said quiz, the Buffalo Wings are 20 for $5! Now that's enough to get me to darken any door more than once -- wings, beer, and trivia? Come on. I'm only human. But South ALSO has a "Recession Thursdays," featuring the usual Happy Hour deals until midnight, PLUS $1 grilled cheese, $2 "mystery shots, and $3 sloppy joes. Toss in a nice open layout, plenty of TVs, a decent staff and ownership, and solid food and drink all around, and you've got (docking the requisite points for being a University of Michigan-affiliated bar during the College Football season) a yee-hawin', Dixie-whistlin', gator rasslin' good time.


This (Liquid) Kitty Has Claws

Name: Liquid Kitty
Coordinates: 11780 W. Pico Blvd., 90064
Neighborhood: West LA, but spiritually closer to Downtown
Happiest Hours: M-F 5pm-8pm and all night Sundays, plus rock-bottom "Recession" pricing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Apparently, even nightlife impresarios, including The Single-handed Savior of Downtown Los Angeles, have to get their start somewhere.

I mean, of course, in this case Cedd Moses, whose march to conquer the the Downtown LA nightlife scene has been met with cheers, thrown laurels, and winsome and comely girls of virtue true. That's unlike Sam Nazarian's march through Hollywood, was more like the Soviet Union's march through Eastern Europe. Except for, you know, the whole "selling out to reality television" thing.

The difference, though, is while Nazarian (and his minion, Brent Bolthouse) make clubs and nightspots that celebrities and the people who care about celebrities want to go to, Moses and his 213Downtown collective make bars that LA people want to go to. Given the choice between going to Area or Hyde and Seven Grand or the Golden Gopher, I'll take the latter two every time, as will the vast majority of locals I know. Clubs like Area are for people who think that's what LA is like all the time, while Moses's bars are for people who are glad that clubs like Area exist to draw the gawkers and the shiny-black-shoes crowd away from the good places.

The only bummer about this whole dime-store-psychology breakdown of the LA bar scene is this -- for us Westsiders, it's a bit of a hike to make it Downtown, and into Moses-controlled turf. And, while that may technically be true, I -- being your intrepid, Sherpa-like guide and host -- found a little loophole that you can bust out in case of emergency.

Did you know that Cedd Moses used to own Liquid Kitty? Until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't.

But you know, now that I DO know that fact, it all kind of makes sense. Here's a bar that's been around a while, serves pretty great drinks that are made with care and good ingredients, and whose decor/overall theme hearkens back to a simpler, more drink-oriented time. And, given the kind of businesses and buildings that surround Liquid Kitty, it wasn't in the world's best or coolest neighborhood when it first opened. In that sense, the LA bar scholar can look at Liquid Kitty as a sort petri dish, or test kitchen, for Moses's grand designs on Downtown.

The Vitals: Liquid Kitty serves booze. Great big glasses of booze. No appetizers. No small bites menu. In fact, no food at all. Only booze. But, despite the "Swingers"-era-looking neon martini glass sign out front, they do a little bit more than just six ounces of chilled vodka in a glass. Rather, they have some nice, old-school cocktails made with care by (in this case) Damian, a 12-year veteran of the place. Prices and specials are good -- $4 well drinks, $4 "Lowlifes"( i.e, a shot and a can of PBR), and $9 specialty drinks, which are jumbo-yet-well-made cocktails like the Manhattan and the Sazerac. Moreover, there's none of this "ultralounge" pretentious bullshit that pervades Hollywood -- in fact, Liquid Kitty has much more of a classic-but-divey feel about it, just like Moses's latest Downtown efforts. So, in a sense, the place is not only a sociological middle ground of Moses's career as a nightlife maven (he doesn't have a stake in the place anymore), but it's also a place to witness the changing tastes of LA's nightlife culture as a whole. It's almost like "Mad Men," which attempts to show the transition between "The Greatest Generation" and the Boomers. That's my pitch -- if Liquid Kitty were a TV show, it would be "Mad Men." And if "Mad Men" was a bar, it would be Liquid Kitty.
Or hell, maybe it's just a good bar with great deals.


The Belmont Shakes

Name: The Belmont Cafe
Coordinates: 747 N. La Cienega Blvd., 90069
Neighborhood: West Hollywood, aka Friday Traffic Hellscape
Happiest Hours: Numerous, but mainly daily, 4-7pm

Readers who, for whatever reason, keep coming back to this site know that I'm a sucker for the clever headline. Sometimes, I'm such a slave to the overusage of said trope that it's a real stretch to see the humor in it. Such might be the case this time -- you can read the above headline a few different ways. Is it merely a hackneyed play on a familiar term? Does it represent a medical condition, or merely an anticipatory state? I'll leave that to you, the reader, to decide...

One thing is for sure, though -- The Belmont, located on La Ciengega in West Hollywood, is a must-try Happy Hour destination for those stuck between the West and East sides of town. It has it all -- the deals, the patio, the surly waitstaff waiting for 7:00pm to hit. Not surly. Distracted. As in thinking, "Why hasn't that casting agent called yet?" Or maybe, "Wasn't this guy here for Happy Hour yesterday?"

That's LA, I suppose. But The Belmont should be lauded, and loudly, for their commitment to the deal as a means of getting people through the door. Check out their Web site -- they've got deals literally every day of the week, from the daily Happy Hour to the Sunday Brunch to some sort of obscenely large bucket of seafood. And those who know me know that I'm gonna get behind any place that serves food in a bucket.

The Vitals: Simply put, The Belmont distinguishes itself from its neighbors in its too-cool-for-school neighborhood by actually acting like they want customers. As mentioned before, their Happy Hour is undoubetedly solid, lasting from 4-7pm every day and offering half-off drinks and appetizers. Sure, with a location like theirs and deals like that, it's going to attract some Ed Hardy/Affliction/guys-in-TrueReligion-jeans-types, and it's going to be crowded, and the servers aren't going to hold your hand through the ordering process; but in this case the amenities far outweigh the drawbacks. To me, half-off plus patio plus Friday equals delightful.