The bar scene in Hermosa Beach may have a bros and beer kind of reputation, but one place is elevating the area. Laurel Tavern Hermosa Beach, which opened this past spring as a sister space to Lauren Tavern in Studio City, is unlike any of its rowdy neighbors.
Located steps from the bustling Pier, the Hermosa outpost with its convivial atmosphere offers a warm, relaxed space, steeped in rich wood, leather, exposed brick, and industrial accents of chalkboards and Edison lighting.
The bar program, helmed by the general manager, Lee Farrell, offers an expansive list of spirits, including more than 55 types of whiskey such as the rare, limited-edition Whistle Pig, The Boss Hog, The Black Prince 4th Edition and a variety of Japanese whiskies. The signature, handcrafted cocktails are made with great precision and thought and rotate seasonally.
“When I’m designing a bar program, it all about what I think the clientele will like,” says Farrell. “There isn’t too much rhyme or reason. I like to try out new things all the time.”
The Good Looking Stranger is probably the strangest looking cocktail on the menu, but you’ve got to trust us, it may be the best. The cocktail mixes tequila and whiskey (yes, on purpose).
“This drink came to light a few years ago when I tried to combine tequila and whiskey and actually make it taste good,” says Farrell. “Typically, it’s garbage. I know it’s mental to think that these can go together, but I wanted to break the rules because I’ve never seen it done before. It took a while to perfect but the drink combines Casamigos Reposado tequila which is sweet, vanilla-y and smokey with Highwest Campfire which unlike anything else out there.”
The one-of-a-kind cocktail is finished off with agave syrup, mezcal spitz and OJ bitters garnished with burnt orange peel. Let it sit for three or four minutes before sipping and we promise you a smooth surprise.
The Best Old Fashioned is definitely the most popular libation at Laurel. Without any citrus or sugar, it’s made simply with Old Forester, Amaro, Benedictine and cherry bitters.
“We sell about 2,000 old fashions a month,” says Farrell.
The Slice of Heaven is just that. This delicious drink is made with George Spiced Pear liqueur, Cruzan aged rum, a little ginger syrup, orgeat, egg whites and lemon juice, garnished with grated cinnamon and pulverized tasted graham crackers.
Probably the only real beachy thing about this beachside bar is their Pina Colada, but it’s not like the headache-inducing sugar concoctions you’re used to in the South Bay.
“We all know the horrific stigma of piña coladas in the cocktail world and even in the man world but this is one that everyone can be proud to drink,” says Farrell. “We don’t use any blenders, no mixes, we wanted everything fresh. Inside the cocktail, we use two rums including Plantation Pineapple rum and Parfait Amour, which gives it a kind of funky grey color, and then fresh pineapple and coconut cream. I put original dark rum on top just to make it that much better. Every perfect tiki cocktail has to have a rum float.”
The cocktail menu is rounded out by a mean Spicy Pineapple Margarita, a Titos-spiked green juice and coconut water drink appropriately named Dr.’s Orders and the Vodka Frescaah made with watermelon, lime, cucumber and mint. Laurel Tavern Hermosa Beach also serves up a solid selection of draft beers, wine and Stumptown cold brew.
The food menu is straightforward and totally savory. Starters include pork belly skewers made with maple glaze, lime and cilantro, fish tacos made with papaya slaw, curry coconut, mango and pickled red onion (fair warning, they’ve got a killer kick) and a to-die-for mezze board with red beet hummus, quinoa, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, french feta and piquillo peppers.
Popular plates include the jalapeno burger, the duck club sandwich and garlic parmesan fries.
Laurel Tavern Hermosa Beach hosts happy hour Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and specials throughout the week including Taco Tuesdays, Whiskey Wednesdays and Sunday Fundays where you can order any burger and any beer for just $15.
Laurel Tavern Hermosa Beach details
1220 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach (424) 275-9694
Hours: Monday – Friday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Weekends 12 p.m. – 12 a.m.