los angeles | Drink + Dine

LA’s Favorite Watering Holes of Literary Legends

June 20, 2014
Written by: sbe Editor

In much the same way books don’t write themselves, cocktails don’t drink themselves. And nothing – be it a written work or a libation – can be created without inspiration. Which is probably why drinking and writing go together so well. Indeed, lady liquor has been a muse to hundreds of literary greats, from Faulkner to Fitzgerald. A handful of legendary Los Angeles bars have facilitated that collaboration. The watering holes on this list may inspire you to write the next Great American Novel – or, at the very least, the Great American Tweet.

Musso and Frank
6667 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
The oldest restaurant in Hollywood, Musso and Frank opened its doors in 1919. In the 1930s, the Screen Writers Guild was located across the street from this Hollywood Boulevard staple. Due to its location, not to mention its enchanting ambiance, authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nathanael West, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and Dorothy Parker drank away the day in the dark interior of its Back Room in between screenwriting sessions. Some, like Raymond Chandler, even penned master works within its walls (much of The Big Sleep was written there). Gore Vidal said entering Musso and Frank was “like getting into a warm bath,” albeit a bath filled with extremely strong martinis.

Frolic Room
6245 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles
Located next to the Pantages Theater, the Frolic Room dates back to the 1930s and was recently described as Hollywood’s last dive bar. A favorite haunt of Charles Bukowski, whose portrait hangs above the cash register, the Frolic Room’s prices are so reasonable, you won’t have to hawk your typewriter in order to get a buzz. A killer jukebox also adds a touch of modernity to the friendly, throwback vibe of the tastefully decorated tavern.


King Eddy Saloon
131 E 5th St, Los Angeles
Local legend John Fante loved downtown’s King Eddy Saloon so much, he wrote it into his masterpiece Ask the Dust as the King Edward Cellar. Charles Bukowski, who knew a good thing when he drank it, was also a regular at the prohibition-era pub. Recently remodeled, the King Eddy hasn’t lost any of its charms as a low-key, intimate, welcoming place to enjoy a drink (or four) with friends.

Formosa Café
7156 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood
Founded in 1925, the Formosa’s proximity to the former Warner Brothers Studio made it a celebrity hotspot–stars such as James Dean, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Clark Gable wined and dined within its walls and left mementos in the form of signed 8×10’s. It’s also been the inspiration for many a novelist, including Bret Easton Ellis and James Ellroy–it even made an appearance in the Oscar-winning film adaptation of Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some spring rolls, stiff drinks, and Hollywood history.

Finish your literary tour off at The Library in The Redbury Hotel Hollywood, where you can find specialty cocktails and a room full of hardcover books by your favorite boozy legends.

By Megan Koester