There's more than a good chance that, if you were to look at me, I'd be categorized as a "hipster." My hair sits on the top of my head in a partially-curly 'fro-esque mane, I cultivate a full beard, my closet is essentially split into two sections (t-shirts and button-up plaids), I live in Silver Lake, I have a record player, I occasionally ride my bike around town, I wear thick-rimmed glasses. In other words, I certainly look the part.
While it's a designation I don't necessarily agree with -- I can go into specifics, but this probably isn't the best place for that imagined argument -- it is one I understand. I have mirrors, after all. So, it's not shocking that my eye was caught by this category in LA Weekly's latest "Best of LA" issue:
Best Hipster Bar for People Who Don't Identify as Hipsters - 2012
Their selection, and why:
We've heard it argued that 1642 Bar is not a hipster bar, which we don't understand. Of course it's a hipster bar. It's just that the very definition of being a hipster is that you hate all things labeled hipster, for good reason: You want to avoid the hordes of wannabe hipsters finding your spots and ruining them. So let's just hope they never see this item, because this may be the very best hipster bar out there. Start with the exterior: It's just a door. You have to know that there's a bar behind it. It's also in an out-of-the-way neighborhood, so nobody will just stumble in without knowing the deal. Inside, one wall is exposed brick. The walls are decorated with old black-and-white photographs, and an old piano lends the space a vintage, rustic feel. The bar serves only beer and wine, and fairly obscure ones at that. (Give yourself bonus points if you recognize and have an opinion on more than half of the selections.) The menu is scrawled on a chalkboard behind the bar. The music is a special draw -- obscure enough to be interesting, and soft enough to promote good conversation. Because let's face it: True hipsters are damn interesting. Unlike the phonies.
As luck would have it, I was actually having a drink at 1642 a mere two hours before reading the above passage. Or maybe it's not luck, and instead just a perfect piece of investigative reporting and specific wording on their part. But it got me thinking. Since I'm evidently a perfect example of "a hipster who doesn't identify himself as a hipster" I seem to be in a particularly unique position to extend their list a bit and come up with a few other bars that fit the odd category description. Mind you, I'm not saying they'd outshine 1642, as much as they would complete the list of winners. They are:
A classic L.A. staple since 1962 -- and winner of LA Weekly's surely-prestiguious "Best Bar Bathroom" award -- this dimly-lit dive in Koreatown used to be the drinking establishment of choice for politicians who stayed in the old, now-gone, Ambassador Hotel across the street. Nowadays, it's a great quiet place to get a drink without ever feeling too entrapped by tiny waifish girls wearing fishnets or guys in the skinniest of skinny jeans.
Pretty much everything that's true about 1642 is true about El Prado in Echo Park ("rustic, vintage feel," beer and wine, chalkboard behind the bar with the drinks) except they also serve overpriced meat-and-cheese plates and have a constant rotation of vinyl on the sound system. Come on a weeknight, be surrounded by awkward first dates. Come on the weekend, it'll take an hour to navigate the swarming masses to get to the bathrooms.
Red Lion Tavern
While it may not look like much from the outside, the interior of the Red Lion Tavern is a joy to the beer-swilling senses. Two floors of German beergarden goodness -- including a giant outdoor patio in back -- and most nights drinkers are treated to the sounds of a live piano player. Meanwhile, across the street is the epitome of "a hipster bar for people who most surely do identity themselves as hipsters" in the Cha Cha Lounge.
Every weekend, the Whitehorse seems to have a birthday party jam-packing its Polaroid-covered, red-tinted walls. Which makes sense, as it's certainly an ideal place to throw a celebration for one's own birth: It's relatively cheap, the decor's divey without being sketchy, it's centrally-located, there's a quality jukebox, the bartendress has a no-nonsense attitude, and there are free hot dogs every midnight. Also, it's pretty much empty unless there's one of those aforementioned parties. Come here with a small group on a weeknight and feel free to have full run of the place.