Last night Dre and I showed up at the Fairfax District’s Bar Lubitsch for a Mediabistro/metroblogging bloggers meet n’ greet. When we first walked into the crowded Russian-themed vodka bar and perused the Bolshevik propaganda pamphlet called the cocktail menu, our hearts sank as we saw the prices: $12 specialty cocktails, $6 beer and $9-$25 vodka. Nothing offends me more than a $6 Amstel Light! Things weren’t helped by the fact that the bar was extremely loud from the tons of bloggers packing the joint.
Serious straight-up connoisseurs can order their pleasure untainted from the menu of 200-plus international, potato, grain and even soy vodkas. But with drinks in the $9 to $25 range, Smirnoff cheapskates will be asked to take their unrefined tastes to the nearby liquor store.
So with no drinks in hand and nowhere to sit down, we didn’t feel like there was much reason to stay. And only after 10 minutes from when we first walked in. The decor was gorgeous, the crowd looked interesting enough but we couldn’t get past the high drink prices. I was about to throw the towel in when at the last second, I decided to duck into the back room past the restrooms to check the rest of the place out. Might as well get a good look while I was here. And I’ve always wanted to visit Bar Lubitsch since I first read and wrote about it last year.
The extremely low-lit back room done up like an early 20th-century Russian parlor was empty save for two young men standing in the middle of it talking amongst themselves. Since it looked like it was a VIP lounge with its own separate albeit unmanned-at-the-moment bar, long tables, and a raised platformed seating area along the back wall, we were about to turn and leave when the men greeted us. Viranda and Quinton were their names and unlike the others in the main room, they weren’t here for the blogging party.
Apparently Viranda, of FoundTrack, is a Lubitsch regular. He knew the bar layout, what the crowd was like every day of the week, the bartenders, the manager, the owner and, more importantly, the cocktails. “If there’s one drink I really think you should try, it’s the Molotov Cocktail,” he said. When Dre and I first looked over the menu and read about that one ($12), we were turned off by the apple juice. A mix of bison grass vodka and fresh apple juice on the rocks, it didn’t sound all that appetizing. But Viranda insisted that it was a must-do and they set it aflame. Now you’re talking!
He had Ian — the tall, dark and handsome bartender/manager/doorman — construct our bombtastic cocktail for us. Sure enough the lemon rind set afloat was squirted with some 151 and ignited. Ooh, pretty! I’m such a sucker for a flaming drink. I snapped a ton of pictures of it until Ian and Viranda said I had to blow it out. Boo. But they just wanted me to drink it.
Our worries about a yucky drink were assuaged once we took our first sip. Mmm, it tasted like an apple strudel except there weren’t any syrups or sugars to create the sweet, just the fresh unfiltered apple juice. Dre compared the cocktail to a McDonald’s apple pie.
Like this bar, the drink went from unappetizing to delightful. The longer we hung out and chatted with everyone, the more we grew to like Bar Lubitsch. I guess the propaganda got to us.
Since there was no food at this bloggers party, we were kinda hungry. But as this is a straight-up vodka bar there’s no kitchen. However Viranda said that you can place your order for pizza from Jones with the bartenders and they’ll have it delivered to you here. We didn’t do that but once he said that, sure enough I saw a delivery man walk to the back room holding a pizza box aloft.
Later, chatting with Ian (dreamy!) I found out that although the bar initially opened last year, they had to close down for most of the year due to some WeHo red tape they had to go through to OK their smoking patio out front. The bar just reopened in January this year and to much success. Unlike the industry-infested Winston’s down the street, Bar Lubitsch is laidback. Its bar staff and doormen have no trace of attitude, that is unless you give ’em some first. Ian said he won’t let anyone in who will act like an ass to his bartenders. Good policy.
Instead of club nights, Lubitsch likes to mix it up with djs. Cool thing about this? No cover. But it does get packed on the weekends. However, if you get there before 10, you can avoid having to wait to get in.
Damn, I really liked this bar but it’s such a shame about those high-falutin’ drink prices. I’ll just have to suck it up if I want to come back for the weekend dancing in the back room.
7702 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, California 90046