Venice has a lot of companies with no vowels in their names. It has a lot of stores that sell clothing and succulents. It has a lot of sand. But something Venice doesn’t have a lot of is good bars. In terms of drinking options, you’re looking mostly at a collection of quiet bars and a handful of clubs that we don’t advise you venture into. That said, there are a few standout drinking options around, and you don’t have to venture north of Rose to find them. Here are all of our favorite places to drink in Venice, all in one place.
If you have a last-minute date to plan, meet up for drinks at Venice Beach Wines. This tiny wine bar is mostly a covered patio on that quiet part of Rose Ave. off of Main Street. You can share some solid small plates, actually hear each other talk, and try some different wines - the servers love giving recommendations, so you don’t have to pretend you have an opinion on Zinfandels.
There should be more rooftop bars on the Westside, but maybe people decided the ocean looks better at eye level. Whatever the reason, High Rooftop Bar on top of the Hotel Erwin is pretty much your only option in this area for a fun drinking experience higher than sea level. You’ll see a lot of ex-frat bros pretending they’re still in college, but watching the sunset from here proves the whole eye-level-is-better theory totally wrong.
The Otheroom looks like a grungy dive bar grew up, got a haircut, and now has a stable enough job to afford living on Abbot Kinney. This spot is great for beer drinking in groups (there’s no hard liquor here), with a space that stays mellow even when it fills up on weekends. The big open windows let in a ton of light that’s nice for day-drinking, but at night things turn darker and more date-y.
Hinano is an old-school Venice dive bar that feels like it’s right out of Lords of Dogtown. There’s good beer, vintage posters, a pool table, and a relaxed crowd of people who look like they actually know how to surf. You won’t find any craft cocktails here and you probably shouldn’t meet here for a first date, but it’s a perfect place for when you don’t want to even remotely put in effort before you start drinking. Also, their burger is pretty great.
Neighbor is technically a restaurant, but we prefer hanging at their bar and patio for small plates and drinks. The space looks like a Best of Anthropologie museum, and they serve vegetable-heavy small plates, and post-beach-appropriate cocktails.
If you find yourself with an occasion to take shots, you should do so at the Brig on Abbot Kinney. This bar is known for its mean bartenders, a crowd that’s too drunk to care, and as a place to meet strangers. There’s usually a line to get in on weekends, but it moves fast.
This spot is on Lincoln Blvd. off Washington, so you’ve probably never wandered past it on a casual stroll. But you should make a plan to come here, because The Lincoln is definitely the coolest bar in Venice. The space is attractive, the cocktails are fancy, and the patio is ideal. Which means it gets very busy on weekends - show up early for a table.
The Whaler is the kind of spot you wander into during Happy Hour for some post-beach drinks and end up wanting to become a regular. The beachside bar and restaurant has great cocktails, food that you wouldn’t expect from somewhere right on Venice Beach (as in well-executed gastropub food that actually tastes good), and even though you’ll see a lot of tank-top wearing bros, you won’t see them falling over each other or getting into fights, even when the place is crowded on weekends.
This brewery is right on the border between Venice and Marina Del Rey, but for the sake of this guide, we’ll call it Venice. There are lots of places to drink beer in this neighborhood, but Firestone Walker is the only actual brewery - and it’s a pretty good one. If you’re serious about beer, you can order a flight of their house brews, and if you just want to drink beer and maybe eat a burger, this is a good place to do that, too. The space is great for a big group of friends.
Otherwise known as that bar you recognize from I Love You, Man, James’ Beach actually does serve very good fish tacos and is usually filled with a crowd of locals doing everything from a casual date night to marathons of margaritas. That’s because this place has two very different sides: a white-tablecloth dining room, and a bar that was designed by someone whose main and sole interest is surfing. Two different spaces in the same restaurant sounds like it could be a mess, but it’s the best part about this place.
You have to give up your phone to get into this speakeasy behind Scopa. If you’re into that kind of thing, you will definitely like Old Lightning, which is inexplicably tiki themed and manned by helpful bartenders who really seem to love what they do. It’s kind of a pain to get in - you have to email them and wait for someone to reach out to you about a reservation. But once you’re in, you feel like you’re part of a club. And you can spend the next day talking about how great it felt to “just unplug.”
Nighthawk’s theme is breakfast for dinner (or for lunch, or breakfast), which essentially means you’re going to be drinking alcoholic cereal milk. It sounds gimmicky, but this all-day spot pulls off its theme pretty well, with very good breakfast food, cocktails that taste great despite being alcohol and milk, and a crowd there to actually have fun, not just take photos of themselves getting drunk off of fruit loops and gin.