You don't have to be Cedd Moses to know that drinking in downtown is all the way back. While places like the now-revamped King Eddy's Saloon have been pouring pints for generations, newer operations like the up and running Angel City Brewery have helped to revitalize a downtown that was once nearly devoid of quality booze. We as a city have several places to thank for the slow transformation that has made downtown a drinker's paradise, not least of which is BUZZ Wine Beer Shop.
The Spring Street marketplace is owned and operated by Scott Kamalski and David Bakhshi, two friends with prior restaurant experience who found great bottles of beer and wine to be in short supply downtown, even after revitalization had begun to take hold. So in June of 2011 the two men opened the doors to their glass-lined corner market, complete with taps and tables in the back for occasional tasting nights. The idea was simple: bring quality, under-served drinks to a downtown that was bursting with new apartment dwellers looking to stock their fridges and maybe step out for a drink or two when they felt like it.
In the nearly two years since they sold their first six pack, Kamalski and Bakhshi have come to amass quite a drinker's collection of bottles, cans and kegs. Currently, there are over 10,000 wines on hand and 200 different labels of constantly rotating craft beer. "This [place] is for people who want something interesting with great value and can learn and expand their knowledge and freak their friends out," Kamalski told The Gallery Row Art Walk News (pdf) last year. With loud music, a swirling crowd of drinkers at the back of the room and a steady line of people walking out the door with their wares, "interesting" certainly describes the place.
If you've never walked into BUZZ Wine Beer Shop before, you may not have a solid idea of what 200 different kinds of beer looks like. It's a lot. With an overwhelming number of choices it's easy to get lost in the labels, which is exactly why Kamalski and Bakhshi wanted to offer weekly tasting nights for select bottles of booze. Their Friday night recurring Beer O'Clock series has proved immensely popular with downtowners and anyone looking to kickstart their weekend.
For around $10 to $15, drinkers can sip from five different glasses of fun, interesting and approachable brews. There's often some sort of theme -- say, Belgian beers -- but not always. Sometimes, BUZZ just wants you to drink the best beers they've got in the case. The team leans heavily on impressive local favorites like Kinetic Brewing in Lancaster, Cismontane Brewery, or Noble Aleworks out of Orange County. For less than the cost of some cocktails, BUZZ Wine Beer Shop will let you sample the goods on Friday night, then let you stay 'til 2 a.m. After that, you've got to find your own footing home.
BUZZ Wine Beer Shop has quickly grown into the sort of destination that helps to define a neighborhood. As more and more people continue to flock downtown and the rest of us take the subway for an easy night of drinking, BUZZ is a pleasant reminder that, in many ways, DTLA is leading the charge when it comes to craft beer and wine. With weekly tasting sessions that lack the pretension of other high-end beer bars in town, plus one of the best bottle selections this side of Sunset Beer Company, BUZZ Wine Beer Shop is a certifiable drinker's destination, right in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.