Josh Telles

Nestled in the back corner of a side alley off Los Feliz’s main drag, Vermont Avenue, the neighborhood’s latest speakeasy ostensibly doubles as a waiting room for its sister spot, Atrium. But between the backlit bar’s wall of golden glass bricks, a tongue-in-cheek cocktail menu, and the cozy appeal of a tiny space done to the nines, Pinky’s is already becoming a destination all on its own. Helmed by Atrium’s Beau Laughlin and Jay Milliken — the pair of local restaurateurs also responsible for Silverlake’s impressive trifecta, Sawyer, Scout, and Kettle Black — Pinky’s is a reimagining of an old Skylight Theatre rehearsal space — a complete overhaul, actually. 

Well-appointed greenery, glistening, green tiles and gold accents sprinkled throughout give the bar an elegance that’s often absent along this dive-friendly strip. And while Drawing Room on Hillhurst and even the timeless camp of late night spot Fred 62’s are essential neighborhood staples, so is a place as effortlessly chic as Pinky’s. With a menu that’s full of service industry inside jokes — like the cleverly-named Simple But Annoying ($12) with Indonesian rum, clarified milk, black tea and pomegranate-fig cordial, mezcal and lemon oleo (sweet, lemony oil) — the appeal for a neighborhood chock full of bartenders and industry folks is clear.

The menu was ideated by 26-year-old (!) bartender and co-owner Jordan Young, who was on hand during a recent press preview overseeing his creations with a quiet, unfussy precision. The early favorite is a crowd-pleaser dubbed the Bath House (all the cocktails save one, a Japanese whisky highball at $10, are currently priced at $12), a sweet coconut-y tequila drink served in one of those adult Capri Sun pouches that fancy LA hotels give you to safely take your drink into the pool. Not only is it a hit for this irreverent packaging, but rounded out with Spanish liqueur, Velvet Falernum (a Tiki sweetening staple) and Passionfruit-Tamarindo Cordial. Tropical but still very light, the Bath House is like a hot house flower take on a Piña Colada.

Because I’m a sucker for cocktail gimmicks, my other favorite was the Drunk Commitments, a whiskey and fortified wine cocktail with Tiki bitters served up and topped with a sticky “cinnamon bubble” (no relation) that you have to pop to drink. For those who are potentially antsy or bored, waiting on a table at the restaurant across the way, these cocktails give idle minds something to fix on. And for anyone trying to impress a date with advanced bar knowledge, well, they’re ideal for that, too. But as brainy as these drinks might be, they never stray into esoteric territory, and maintain the accessibility that is a hallmark of the nü-Tiki revival. 

Obscure shot combos that favor amaros like Fernet and Montenegro or and fortified wine like Cynar paired with more rye or mezcal are available for $9, as are beer and wine, ranging from a $4 High Life to the $14 glass of orange wine, and a taco menu that spans Pork Carnitas, Chicken Tinga, and Rajas (a potato taco), running $3.5 a pair. Amuse bouche or late night snack, these are provided by Atrium chef Hunter Pritchett, and therefore guaranteed to be delicious.

Space-wise, Pinky’s is relatively tiny, but the bar has still dedicated a relatively large amount of real estate to an adjacent DJ booth/turntable set up to vinyl collector and Bakersfield native, Alex Rodriguez who is the subject of a 2017 documentary, Record Safari, and most infamously collects records for an on-site Coachella record store, along with managing the Glass House Record Store adjacent to the Glass House venue in Pomona. Given the spot’s proximity to the Greek Theater, this is a nice touch, but seems overkill at times for such a small space. But whether you come to Pinky’s to wait for a table elsewhere, or to imbibe from the cheeky menu and bask in the glowy decor, its ambience and charm make it an ideal new speakeasy —even in a neighborhood chock full of bars.

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