11/18/2011 05:51 pm ET | Updated Jan 18, 2012

The Birthday Bar Conundrum

It was my birthday recently. As happens once a year, I had to figure out how I wanted to celebrate my entry into the world. I contemplated taking a weekend camping trip to Ojai, finding a friend who could host an autumnal themed house party filled with pumpkin shaped cookies or planning a last minute trip to visit my sister in DC. But I was uninspired. As the weeks neared my day of birth, I felt the best option was to pick a bar where my friends could convene for some libations and laughs. But as the week of my birthday arrived, after much contemplation, I was struggling to find the perfect Los Angeles bar for birthday party-time.

Picking a locale to handle the honor of your day of birth party is a weighty decision. Like the saying in real estate, it came to mind that I tried to make my decision based on location, location, location. Location one: the actual part of town. My thoughts went to the ocean -- the roof of the Hotel Erwin with a stunning view, plush lounges and sleek heating devices. I thought of the urban streets of downtown -- Seven Grand with dark wood, pool tables and jazz nights. But either horizontal end of the LA compass could drastically reduce the odds of those on the opposite side attending. So I thought to stay somewhere in between in my neighborhood of West Hollywood -- Fat Dog (I support dog friendly patios), the Hudson (I like trees sprouting in the middle of a room) or the Surly Goat (shuffle board is a good ice breaker). But nothing tickled my Girl at a Bar fancy.

So I studied location two: where does a bar stand on the style spectrum? Pali House warrants a pair of heels, a sharp outfit and a reservation for a large group. In juxtaposition, Mandrake welcomes blue jeans, Toms and houses a minimalist environment to sip a brewski. And then there's casual attire at Lola's combined with a sophisticated martini list. I imagined the vibes and style of my friends and the ambience I hoped for in a potential establishment as I toasted away the old and danced in the new. But nothing felt right.

And then the most important location of them all: where does a bar find itself in the timeline of my life? And this is where I gave up. I had a party at Village Idiot for the end of my year-long journey to bars alone, Dominick's hosted my birthday gathering two years back and Citizen Smith held the goodbye soiree when I left LA for my first paid creative gig. The establishments all made sense to what I needed and wanted at those times. But during this transitional year in my life, picking a bar that epitomizes who I am and where I am right now seemed impossible.

So I took the idea of one big bar celebration and spread it out -- a drink the night before at Wood and Vine with one special friend, a concert at the Wiltern with a few close compadres on the big day, a dinner the following night at Taste offered by my favorite married couple. And when I went to meet my two oldest friends for a post-supper drink, I told them to pick the bar. They led us to the rooftop of the new Hotel Wilshire. At Crescent Heights and Wilshire, I found a place that would have been perfect for a big birthday group -- no pretension at the door, a surprisingly phenomenal view of the city, a bustling, gregarious crowd and space to gather in a lounge or mingle at the bars and pool area. But as I blew out the candle of a peanut butter and jelly sundae with my two friends from childhood, I knew this was the right way to celebrate. Maybe next year will be more definable. Or maybe even more will be up in the air. But either way I'll be one year older. And that deserves a drink.

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