The Association's $10 Vintage Cocktails

— by Caroline on Crack

spitz 025

I admit it. Part of the reason I avoided checking out new downtown bar, The Association, was because of its name. It just sounds so clique-y, so elitist; the siren call to douchebags, says I. Word of mouth seemed to confirm this.

But then when I was hanging out with H.C., after we went to check out kebab joint Spitz downtown (review tk), he convinced me to give the lounge a chance. He’d even drive us. Not one to turn down a free ride, I obliged.

And as soon as we walked in and checked out the menu, I was blatantly proved wrong. There’s no douchebaggery here! Well, if there was, I couldn’t see it cuz the place was so dimly lit. Great lighting for blind dates and random hookups, though.


LA Times’ The Guide:

But make no mistake, the Association is not your typical trendy nightspot. Instead, [owner Ashley] Joyce hopes to offer those in the neighborhood a warm, inviting “local” they can call home. Call it an updated take on the pub, with DJs on weekends.

In any case, I was mostly pleased that not only do they have a cocktail menu of classic drinks but these drinks are only $10 each! I know! I couldn’t believe it myself.

And there were so many nice options that I just couldn’t make up my mind. No vodka cocktails, thank you very much.

I chose the Sazerac since I was craving one ever since I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. There’s a scene where two men pass the night knocking back Sazeracs. Yum. The drink, not the men. Anyway, surprisingly this one wasn’t as cough-inducing as those I’ve had in the past. It was a bit milder, either that or my tolerance has gotten better. This one was made of Old Overholt Rye, sugar, Peychaud bitters and served in a glass washed with absinthe.

Normally I detest the taste of absinthe but in this drink, the rye and absinthe flavors blended together beautifully. “It’s almost caramelly,” H.C. observed after taking a sip. Def deelish.

H.C. ordered the Derby cocktail against the forceful advice of some boozers sitting near us at the bar. It’s made of bourbon, Benedictine, bitters and a garnish of burnt orange peel. “Don’t get it! It’s horrible. It tastes like burnt orange,” one said. “Well it does have a garnish of burnt orange peel in it,” I replied, not at all trying to be a smart ass. As soon as they adjourned outside to have a smoke, H.C. put in his order.

It arrived in a small martini glass, like in the old days! “Tastes like a Manhattan,” H.C. said after sipping it. “Gimme!” Sure enough it tasted like a Vermouth-y Manhattan. S’all right, but I still like my cocktail better.

For my next drink I decided to forgo the Vesper martini I originally desired for the Pearfecta — rum, pear brandy, grapefruit, lemon and bubbly. It showed up in an old-fashion champagne glass, its rim iced with sugar. I usually don’t like sugar on my rim but here it hit the spot. I found myself licking the glass. Shameless. The cocktail was delightful and sweet but not in a disgusting way. Definitely a girl drink, not that that’s a bad thing.

H.C. had the French 75 next. Pretty standard — gin, lemon, sugar and champagne. Tasty.

Some of the drinks on the list that we didn’t get to:

  • Aviation: Gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violete, lemon juice
  • Hemingway: Flor de Cana 4 year rum, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit, lime
  • Pisco Sour: Barsol Pisco, egg white, sugar, lemon, lime and topped with Peruvian-style bitters
  • Old Cuban: Rum, mint, lime, sugar, strained and topped with champagne

Yes, I liked this bar a lot. It’s just a shame the available street parking is on scary unlit Main Street. Make sure you go with friends. Shouldn’t be too hard. Your friends will enjoy this place.

Going on a Wednesday night, the bar was very chill. Lots of open couches and empty barstools but with still enough people to keep things entertaining. I guess. H.C. and I were too busy marveling at the vast selection of liquor bottles lining the back wall of the bar to notice there were people there.

The Association
110 East 6th Street
Los Angeles, California 90014 (map)
(213) 627-7385
Hours: 5pm-2am Mondays-Fridays, 7pm-2am Saturdays and Sundays