Upstairs in a small, hot, dark room over New Orleans’ One-Eyed Jacks, Cedd Moses, owner of downtown LA bar The Varnish, was handing out chilled bottles of High Life beer to everyone at this impromptu private party after the Spirited Awards and the Juniperlooza gin party. Very speakeasy and fitting considering we were there to celebrate The Varnish, a bar with speakeasy tendencies, tucked into the back room of a restaurant, Cole’s French Dip in downtown.
After having been nominated and losing previous years in 2010 (to Death and Co.) and 2011 (to Employees Only), The Varnish was starting to become known as the “Susan Lucci of the Spirited Awards” but on this Saturday night, its time had finally come. It was taking home the award for Best American Cocktail Bar at the 2012 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards (see the award show’s intro video of the nominees), and Angelenos at Tales were in a celebrating mood.
So here we were, a long way from home, wanting to hear from the winning bar’s crew, wanting to hoist beers in their honor. There was Dan “The Imbiber” Dunn, Spare Room co-owner Marc Rose and bartender Naomi Schimek, Proprietors LLC’s David Kaplan, Thirsty in LA, EstarLA, The Fussy One and more. We were proud of our little hometown watering hole finally getting recognition, well, even more recognition. We already know it’s the best in Los Angeles, a favorite to all cocktail geeks and a bartender’s bar. But now everyone knew it was the best in all of the United States.
Handsome bastard/Varnish bartender Eric Alperin and former general manager Chris Bostick (who has since moved to Austin to open his own bar) took turns speaking, without a mic in the crowded room. Sucks that I couldn’t hear a word they were saying but at least I could see the gratitude on their faces, the relief and happiness and I felt honored to share this moment with them. When each were done, we hoisted our beer bottles with pride. Cheers to The Varnish and its crew! Epic win and much deserved.
Photo Gallery of The Varnish’s Private Party at One-Eyed Jacks