Hollywood has a lot of famous pairs, but one that’s topping many an LA bar this fall deserves a little more attention: the gin and tonic. On the surface, it’s a simple enough drink, but its few ingredients — gin, tonic, ice, perhaps a wedge of lime or sprig of something herbaceous — means that every one needs to shine. Chief of these is the gin. Using The Botanist’s dry gin, which is crafted from more than 22 hand-foraged botanicals from the Isle of Islay in Scotland, some of LA’s best bars and eateries have created their own take on the libation that’s both potent and refreshing. Here are the 10 best spots for gin and tonics, just in time for fall in LA.Read More
LA’s Best Gin and Tonics to Drink Now
There’s more to this Santa Monica beer garden than an enviable list of super-local craft brews. The after-work crowd shows up for a bar-friendly food menu — things like a giant pretzel, lamb meatball, and shishito mac and cheese — a nice enough wine list, and a whole menu devoted to gin-based cocktails. You know the gin and tonic will be ace, but if you want to get fancier, look to the Pear Pressure, an instant fall classic. The baking spice notes and dry citrus flavor truly “pear” well with The Botanist gin’s 22 Islay botanicals for a very seasonable G&T. It’ll transport you right to Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family.
The Corner Door
This cozy interior of one of Culver City’s favorite cocktail bars begs you to stay a while (the sidewalk seating isn’t bad, either). A surprisingly substantial food menu ranges from eats like oysters to short-rib tacos to an 8-ounce dry-aged rib-eye, but it’s the deft hands behind the bar that keeps the neighborhood regulars coming back. Stick to tried-and-true basics like a drafted Botanist G&T with citrus (why make G&Ts one at a time when you can simply put them on draft?).
This pretty, lofty Culver City space with an open kitchen sets the scene for whatever you’re up to — brunch with friends, date night over shareable plates with your honey, casual after-work drinks that extend into dinner. Speaking of drinks, there’s no shortage of gin on the spirits menu. If you’re looking for one simple improvement on the classic G&T, look no further than the ice: Greg Bryson of the Wallace gives you this simple gin and tonic elevated to a new level with his cut-to-glass ice spears. (It’s always nice when your bar director also owns a custom ice company.)
On the rooftop of Culver City’s Platform shopping center, this looker of a restaurant has both outdoor (hello 360-degree views) and indoor seating and a drool-worthy menu of coastal Mediterranean dishes with an eye toward whatever’s in season. It also has a hankering for gin, with several G&Ts on its cocktail menu, including the Botanist Sting & Tonic, which combines The Botanist gin, sage, Miracle Mile Cucumber Orris Bitters, and nettle tincture. This riff on a G&T combines aromas of sage and hints of cucumber and orris to round out the palate. It’s then spiked with an age-old health remedy: a stinging nettle tincture. If this gin and tonic doesn’t solve all your problems, the olive oil martini (with olive oil-infused gin) will.
The Roger Room
A true cocktail lover’s bar, this West Hollywood spot is hidden away beyond an unmarked door. Inside it’s all dark and dim, with vest-clad bartenders quietly plying their craft. Like any good speakeasy, it organizes its drinks by liquor (there’s even a section devoted to absinthe), and gin doesn’t get the short shrift here. Or, you can get complicated with their staple, the Old Sport, made from The Botanist gin, black tea-infused Soho lychee liqueur, and cucumber and lime juices, or opt for a gin and tonic, which might sound simple, but at the Roger Room, there’s always a clever twist.
Melrose Umbrella Co.
Though technically just steps from the bustle of Melrose, the bar — with its 1920s wooden apothecary cabinet behind the bar — feels worlds away. At this throwback cocktail spot, the tinctures, syrups, and tonic are all homemade, resulting in drinks made with care that look like mini works of art, even seemingly simple affairs like a gin and tonic. For a gin drink that pushes the bounds of creativity, try the Botanist & Bergamot, an elegant Botanist and tonic made better with a citrusy house lemon stock and the floral spice of Italicus, an Italian bergamot liqueur.
Kimpton Everly Hotel
Hotel bars offer a haven for travelers looking for a cool spot for a drink, and they offer a quick vacation for locals too. Case in point: the Kimpton Everly boutique hotel. Munch on fare made with ingredients form the Hollywood Farmers Market at Jane Q and sip on one of Jane Q’s infused gin and tonics, each made with a different gin infusion and Fever Tree flavored tonic. Or peek out across downtown Hollywood through the floor-to-ceiling windows at the Ever Bar, which boasts a creative bar program. Order the Beets Thyme and Life cocktail for a twist on the G&T: The earthy and rich beet flavors in this shrub give way to fresh lemon oils and bright citrus notes that complement the duality of The Botanist.
This woman-owned bar in Historic Filipinotown has an unusual provenance: Kickstarter. Since its 2018 opening by three Filipina women, the bar has made a name for itself in the cocktail world. With house-made syrups and shrubs and a cocktail menu that goes mad for gin, there’s a lot to get excited about. The small, art deco-style space peppered with comfy banquettes and glittering chandeliers feels made for sipping a gin and tonic in style. Given the preponderance of gin on the menu, you can trust the bartenders to whip up a cocktail that complements the delicate herbaceousness of Botanist gin. The Fillipino G&T combines two ingredients prominent in Filipino cuisine: calamansi citrus and spicy datu puti, a Filipino vinegar made from coconut sap and flavored with chiles, ginger, and black pepper. Garnished with “adobo spices” like bay leaf and annato, this G&T leans into the savory with nice carbonation and bitterness from Q Tonic.
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Birds & Bees
Sip your cares away with a pitch-perfect G&T — ask for The Botanist gin with the house-made tonic — at this spacious Downtown speakeasy with a midcentury vibe. Despite its underground setting and out-of-the-way entrance, the bar itself eschews pretension and invites bar-goers to sit and stay a while with board games on offer and a daily happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. The attention to detail behind the bar guarantees that every drink, whether served in a highball or a giant punch bowl, is made to exacting standards. Take, for example, the House Botanist & Tonic: Birds & Bees makes a from-scratch tonic syrup for their G&Ts, macerating cinchona bark, citrus peel, lemon grass, and spices for over three days, then sweetening it with a combination of white and Demerara sugars.
A standout in downtown LA, Redbird feels like a true ode to the best of Los Angeles. A modern take on classic cathedral architecture — literally built into the former rectory of St. Vibiana — Redbird also gives an updated interpretation in Californian cuisine. And of course, the cocktail list is not one to skip: the beverage director, Tobin Shea, has earned accolades for his bar program that centers on bespoke version of classic cocktails. Example A, the Thai Town Tonic: Made with The Botanist gin, peppercorn, thai basil, life leaf, and citrus peel, the classic Gin & Tonic is spruced up with flavors and aromas to remind you of your favorite Thai dishes. It’s topped with East Imperiasl Burm Tonic for a very bright and dry Gin & Tonic