The weather in LA lends itself to drinking outside -- so let's do it! But we shall avoid the outdoor bars, which are really just glorified smoking areas and the bars that are really meant for dining on a whole meal. The five bars below offer a free breeze and a sky with your drink -- and if you're hungry, there's food, too (but you never have to feel awkward about just drinking; it's encouraged).
Villains Tavern: Technically, Villains Tavern is still on the right side of the tracks of Downtown (just barely). The surrounding blocks might include an Urth Caffe and a gun pistol club as neighbors, but in the wee hours, it's just the Underworld of debauchery quickly unfolding at Villains all under the open sky. It's possible to never enter indoors while at Villains; you're able to order whiskeys and the like -- served in short Mason jars with handles! -- at the outdoor bar right alongside the live band.
Villains Tavern, 1356 Palmetto Street, at South Santa Fe Avenue (213-613-0766 or villainstavern.com)
On the Waterfront Cafe: Along the actual beach in Venice, you'll be sorry to miss the picnic tables set up adjacent to the German-themed On the Waterfront Cafe. Whether it's a sunny afternoon or a cool moonlit evening, you can always enjoy a torso-tall glass of Hefeweizen with your new beach-bum cronies. Locals simply refer to it as "The Biergarten" (and have no idea what or where the Waterfront Cafe is).
On the Waterfront Cafe, 205 Ocean Front Walk, at Rose Avenue (310-392-0322 or waterfrontcafe.com)
Wood & Vine: In Hollywood, outdoor bars affiliated with big, glittering hotels are abundant; but Wood & Vine is glitzy all on its own, flaunting an excellent back patio for Big Hollywood Talks. You may sip California wines or beers, or prefer an artisan cocktail of the past -- an Old-Fashioned perhaps -- muddled and garnished with local produce from LA's farmers markets.
Wood & Vine, 6280 Hollywood Boulevard, at Vine Street (323-334-3360 or woodandvine.com)
Mandrake: The approachable hipster bar, located in the gallery district of Culver City, boasts an intimate patio in the back covered in flowers. With two picnic tables, it's like your grandmother's garden if Grandma served Dark & Stormies instead of iced tea. From where you're standing, you're still able to hear the DJ's music inside and feel the glow off the movie projector.
Mandrake, 2692 South La Cienega Boulevard, at Alvira Street (310-837-3297 or mandrakebar.com)
Venice Beach Wines: You can't not drink outside at Venice Beach Wines. The covered patio, adjacent to Rose Avenue, can barely fit two dozen oenophiles -- but it never feels cramped. Just cozy. The wine list is exceptional and the by-the-glass program is pleasantly affordable. Our favorite time to hit up VBW is at 4pm when a seat on one of their designer benches is easy to come by and a glass of rosé couldn't taste any better.
Venice Beach Wines, 529 Rose Avenue, at Rennie Avenue (310-606-2529 or venicebeachwines.com)