Tucked inside a Best Western on Franklin, beside the iconic late-night 101 Coffee Shop, you’ll find the cozy Mini Bar—a sophisticated but laid-back respite from the oft-excessive Hollywood bar scene. The brains that birthed Little Dom’s and Dominicks, have brought a new meaning to watering hole. A quiet bar for locals and travelers alike, this 32-seat gem offers a friendly sanctorum for those looking to escape the sizable enterprise of “going out” on the town. Nothing against the hip, crowded corner bar, but sometimes you’re in the mood for an alternative experience and some no-frills hooch.
“The cocktail culture has got kinda out of hand in LA, and customers everywhere were getting scolded by bartenders,” says the bar’s partner/sommelier Jeremy Allen. “The focus behind the bar was all flames, foams and complicated infusions, and I believe it made it hard for people to enjoy themselves. The focus needed to be returned to the customer. People go to bars to be social with their friends and enjoy themselves, not to get condescended to by a bartender. If they’re going to spend their cash in a bar, it’s important for barkeeps to actually be nice to them.”
The moment you enter its doors, this Franklin Village bar gives you that sense of warm hospitality. Every inch of the intimate space is thoughtfully designed, with a retro Mad Men aesthetic and concise, straightforward cocktail menu—eight classic revivals with subtle twists. There are two words common in the LA lexicon that don’t apply to MB: mixology and cinnamon whiskey. The reason isn’t from lack of respect for ingredients, but rather to shift focus away from the byzantine energy of the current craft cocktail culture.
“We can still do all the mixologist stuff anyone does at any other bar, we’re just not pushing it on people. Whatever people want, we try to make it simple. Everyone behind the bar has all that experience, but they’re not the show. The bar and the customers are the show. We want people to feel at home, not wait twenty minutes for a drink.”
You may also find yourself transported by the bar’s well curated soundtrack, but the musical landscape won’t overpower your ability to have a meaningful conversation. It’s a rarity to be able to sustain dialogue with your drinking companion in an LA bar, but MB is befitting for a mellow date night or a boozy business meeting.
“The room is built to suck up sound,” Allen says. “Everyone has little private zones, and if there was a dude at the end of the bar being shouty, it wouldn’t interfere with the other guests. The main idea was to be comfy. When people walk in, the tone’s already set, you can our full attention. We want be a service to the neighborhood, to be a value to them.”
So if you want to end the night as Don Draper might, skip all that fussy jigger juggling, head to MB, and order a straight whiskey.