Books & Bars: L.A.’s Thirst for Literature (and Style)January 4th, 2011
When you think of Los Angeles, books and literature are probably not the first things that come to mind. Possibly sun, beaches, earthquakes, riots and even screenplays enter your imagination, but certainly not bound hardcover classics that create an atmosphere of intellectualism and sophistication. Maybe not even pulpy paperbacks that sell for a shiny quarter at Goodwill.
So perhaps it comes as a surprise that there is currently a trendy movement occurring in Los Angeles that has seen the marriage of books and bars. That’s right – drinking establishments that have lined their walls, and shelves, with everything from hardbound classics and modern novellas to law encyclopedias and philosophical tomes. Actually, alcohol and the written word have a close correlation and long history; among the famous writers who were heavy drinkers include Hunter S. Thompson, Tennessee Williams, Charles Bukowski, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway.
As for the current trend of styling everything from dingy dives to stellar speakeasies with books, well, it may be just that – a trend. But while it’s around it’s worth ordering a cocktail and soaking up the chill library-esque atmosphere that some of these L.A. bars are working hard to recreate:
Picture brass reading lamps, a bar menu printed on textured paper, oversized bookshelves jammed with books and guest checks issued in miniature novels, and you get an idea of the detail that went into designing this literary bar. With a cozy fireplace and plenty of comfy seating, you can easily while the night away until last call. 10929 W Pico Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90064 (West L.A)
If this place confuses you when you arrive because it looks like a house, that’s probably because it is sandwiched between two houses and may have actually been a house at one point. Regardless, its dive-y sensibility coupled with its elegant law library makes it one of the most interesting, and odd, bars in L.A. 1941 Hyperion Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027 (Silverlake)
Downtown L.A.’s fast-growing nightlife scene has seen the opening of numerous upscale bars, but this is certainly the first one to not only capitalize on the literary trend, but also suggest it in its name. Intimate spacing, plush stools and a classic-rock rockin’ jukebox add just enough kick to this library bar. 630 W 6th St Ste 116-A Los Angeles, CA 90017 (Downtown)
When you combine the talents of renowned chef Michael Mina and designer Philippe Starck, the result is a culinary and visual experience so stellar that it changes the landscape of nightlife on the Sunset Strip. Add to that the custom, decorative book collection created specifically for XIV by Juniper Books and you end up with an environment that truly exudes a stylish literary sophistication. 8117 Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90046 (West Hollywood)
Unlike drinking and cars, books and bars make a perfect combination and the opportunity to visit a drinking establishment that has a literary atmosphere can be a fun way to spend the evening.
(Hint: If you don’t live in L.A., there’s a good chance that the “Books & Bars” trend has made its way to a city near you)
Please feel free to share in the comments any book friendly bars you’ve come across in Los Angeles or elsewhere!