Those of us who have lived in the Silver Lake area for the past decade or so will remember the club located on the corner of Santa Monica and Virgil as a sketchy music venue and bar called The Garage. The dive hosted many interesting and fun acts, such as Club Sucker, hosted by the seminal Vaginal Davis; local up-and-coming bands; and served as the venue where comedy duo Tenacious D performed on their short-lived HBO series.
It's in the vein of the former that the location's new incarnation, the remodeled and much classier The Virgil, hosts excellent comedy shows on a regular basis. The bar manager of The Virgil, Adam Sandroni, is a member of the comedy community himself -- evident by the caliber of shows he books. Luckily for us fans of drinking something other than warm beer or well vodka at a comedy show, Sandroni is also a skilled student in the art of classic cocktails. "I feel that the emergence of a 'cocktail culture' is a great thing. If you're drinking, you shouldn't have to settle for something that just tastes passable," jokes Sandroni.
We visited on a recent Thursday night for Big Money, the weekly show (hosted by DC Pierson and Eliza Skinner) which happily starts just in time for happy hour. Happy hour is one of The Virgil's biggest draws: for two hours most evenigns, and all night on Tuesday, their already fairly-priced craft cocktails are just five bucks. One of our favorites was the tequila-based El Diablo, which had a nice sweetness from the creme de cassis and ginger, while the tartness from the lime gave it a necessary zing. The Eastside, an herbal gin-based cocktail that boasts mint, lime and cucumber, is served in an icey coupe.
Grab your cocktail and scoot up to the classy red leather booth lining the room or snag the couch in the small room off the entrance for a cozy, dimly lit setting. When the show starts, head the to larger room where you'll find acts like Maria Bamford, David Cross, and Kristen Schaal (who hosts the monthly show Hot Tub along with Kurt Braunohler), as well as up-and-coming locals.
Although the club boasts an array of entertainment any night of the week -- like live music, dance parties and variety shows -- Sandroni says that the idea to host comedy shows arose strictly out of wanting to keep guests and staff alike on their toes. "Basically the comedy came from us wanting to offer a variety of entertainment options so that we could reach a variety of people. The management team here hates being bored. My hope for The Virgil is that any night of the week you can come and do something different so that people in the area should never be bored."
In keeping with that theme, the cocktail menu is playful and creative. "Like food, alcohol can be an artistic medium. More and more bartenders use their cocktails to express their own personal style, and it has lead to some great drinks (and some lousy ones)," says Sandroni. That said, we humbly suggest the habanero-infused tequila, smoked sea salt libation known as the Blazing Saddle be swiftly removed from the cocktail menu. Otherwise, we implore The Virgil to keep on doing what they're doing, which Sandroni humbly states as being thus: "at the end of the day, this is still the service industry, and our job as bartenders is to serve drinks, share stories, and be that friendly ear." Offering great cocktails and hosting excellent comedy doesn't hurt, either.