Among the pupuserias and donut shops of East Hollywood sits The Virgil, an intimate, darkly lit lounge catering to those who crave unique and unusual cocktails.
Bartenders dressed in garb just slightly reminiscent of the 1890s (vests and collared shirts, but no ridiculous mustaches) take to microwave-sized blocks of ice with a chisel to chip off perfect glassy cubes. (Drinks are served “on a rock,” according to the menu) Brushed steel vases of raspberries and limes line the bars, at the ready for the skilled mixologists searching for a garnish.
For atmosphere, you've got some options. For a quieter evening, hit The Virgil on a Sunday with friends for drinks and a round of Backgammon. But if you prefer dueling jazzhouse and “funkmosphere” Djs in two lounges packed with the young hunting singles of Silverlake, your best bet is a Friday or Saturday night. Pick a side when you enter. The Stage Side on the left, often featuring live musical acts or Djs, or the B-side on the right, a smaller lounge room with a stack of board games, a jukebox, and a photo booth. Happy hour runs from 7 – 9pm nightly, and all night on Tuesdays. Show up for $15 whiskey flights on Whiskey Wednesdays and take advantage of the free jukebox. There's a monthly variety show called The Victory Lap, a weekly comedy show called Hot Tub, board games and/or movie showings on Sunday nights, as well as literary readings, and musical performances.
The drinks are reasonable priced. Craft cocktails run from $10 - $12, only $6 at Happy Hour.
Room and Board is a gin and cognac drink, sweetened with lavender honey and finished with saison and lemon. Intrigued by the combination, I ordered it. The saison gave it a forward bitter flavor, which overpowered the rest of the hints. It wasn't overwhelming, but the citrus notes were strong enough to make it difficult to detect the lavender honey, which I found a little disappointing. I was intrigued by the Llama to Lima, however, which featured Peruvian Brandy and lime. Not a combination you see very often, and I was glad to have tried it. Next time I go, I plan to try the Frostbite (fire-roasted jalapeno tequila, cantaloupe, agave, lime).
But if you ask me, the standouts on the menu are the Wu-Tang Fizz and the Uncle Weeber's Old Fashioned. Wu-Tang boasts a dreamy roster of ingredients: bourbon, vanilla, cream, egg white, orange bitters, citrus, soda. Like an antique egg cream soda grew up and rebelled against its parents. The egg whites are whipped to creamy frothy perfection, making this drink a true treat. Uncle Weeber's Old Fashioned hits you with the spiciness of barbecue bitters that linger and expand on the palate long after you sip. Since two of the listed ingredients are “smoke and magic,” we can only assume that the bartenders work some voodoo behind the counter to make it so delicious.
Lauren Eggert-Crowe (laureneggertcrowe.com)
@laureggertcrowe on Twitter