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The craft cocktail action in L.A. is just as zesty as the city’s culinary scene, and we dig it. Locally grown berries, microtrends, dramatic presentation and accessible flavors are all happening in the best bars around town. Here are eight you really need to try, lest you miss your next signature cocktail on one of these ever-changing menus.

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charcoal midnight margarita cocktail
Charcoal Venice

Charcoal Midnight Margarita at Charcoal Venice

It’s called the midnight margarita because it’s colored with activated charcoal, a microtrend in juices, waters and alcoholic drinks. And even though charcoal is a detoxifying ingredient, don’t expect the effects of the other ingredients of this perfect margarita—El Charro tequila, lime and salt—not to pack a punch.

425 Washington Blvd., Venice; 310-751-6794 or charcoalvenice.com

old hollywood cleo third street
SBE

Old Hollywood at Cleo Third Street

You’re sitting around communal tables dining on Mediterranean small plates, and then you think you’d like something with a bit of heft, yet not too heavy, to wash your mezzes down. This bourbon-and-fig-almond-syrup cocktail, brightened with a ribbon of citrus, is a delight.

8384 W. Third St.; 323-579-1600 or sbe.com

castle walls cocktail westbound

Dodge City Gun Smoke at Westbound

The vibe at this new DTLA bar is all 1940s glam on an Art Deco train car. Sexy! Just like this cocktail, made of smoked tea-infused vodka, a European herbal liqueur, dry curaçao and a dash of bitters.

300 S. Santa Fe Ave.213-262-9291 or westbounddtla.com

Elevated cocktail
Carla Choy Photography

Quita calzón at Rosaline

Peruvian cuisine is hot when prepared by chef Ricardo Zarate, the West Coast’s fusion cusine hero. So, too, are cocktails from mixologist Jeremy Lake, who riffs on the idea of a healthy cocktail by making a classic caipirinha (mmm, mezcal) but adding super-hydrating coconut water and gooseberry syrup, garnished with the husk of that berry.

8479 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; 323-297-9500 or rosalinela.com

rare whiskey the cut
The Cut

Rare scotch at Cut, Beverly Hills

Why not break your dry spell with a luxurious tasting dinner consisting of six different rate scotches? Single malts and blends are on offer at a tasting dinner hosted on February 2 by a famed Scottish distiller, who’ll proffer the right sips to go with cheddar, duck, Angus beef and even chocolate. Of course, a neat single malt is good any old time at this Wolfgang Puck steakhouse.

At the Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; 310-275-5200 or wolfgangpuck.com

quinciniera cocktail gracias madre

The Quinciñera at Gracias Madre

This restaurant is so delightfully all over the place: just your normal vegan Mexican health-obsessed joint that also serves kicky snow cones made with tequila blanco, kiwi, mint, lime bitters and raspberry shaved ice. Next, you can move on to the CBD-infused cocktails…

8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; 323-978-2170 or graciasmadreweho.com

checker hall chapter sweetheart cocktail
Checker Hall/ Facebook

The Chapter Sweetheart at Checker Hall

How about cutting loose with a really wintery cocktail, like this rye, agave, strawberry sage and pomegranate molasses mix, and then rolling next door for some live music? That’s what you do at Checker Hall, next to the music venue Lodge Room. And that’s why Highland Park is getting all the buzz.

104 N. Ave. 56, Highland Park; 323-509-7416 or checkerhall.com

sleight of hand cocktail bibo ergo sum
Bibo Ergo Sum

Sleight of Hand at Bibo Ergo Sum

Maybe you want to keep your Dry January going a little bit longer? Well there, teetotaler, there’s no need to miss the theater and complex flavor of mixology. Take this non-alcoholic wizardy: With every sip, you’ll taste black tea, white chocolate, dried plum, a hint of spice, sugary sweetness and smoked cherry wood. All this, and the bar’s stunning Art Deco interior, too.

116 N. Robertson Blvd.; 424-323-0066 or biboergosumla.com

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