La Descarga: Hollywood's Rum Bar
By Scott Huver
A sip of a minty mojito sculpted with shaved ice. Plumes of curling cigar smoke. Classic Cuban rhythms beating in the background. And just like that, La Descarga—the new East Hollywood rum bar—has transported you from the nondescript Latin neighborhood into a speakeasy straight out of pre-Castro Havana.
Conceived by Piano Bar owners Mark and Jonnie Houston, La Descarga is an imaginative new entry among LA’s nightlife: A long-standing dive in a rough-around-the-edges locale has been radically transformed into an elegant, high-class, reservationonly rum bar. “It’s off the beaten path,” says veteran club manager Steve Livigni (most recently of The Doheny), “which goes with the charm of what we’re trying to do—transport people to Cuba.”
The journey begins when the doorman checks reservations and motions the well-dressed clientele up a deceptively dumpy stairwell. At the top of the stairs a hostess reveals a cleverly disguised “secret” passageway that leads into a lavish Havana-inspired fantasyland featuring rum-centric cocktails designed by Livigni and Bacardi mixologist Pablo Moix.
Along with the standard array of liquor and beer, bartenders craft such specialty drinks as Tapping the Admiral (a rum variation on the Manhattan) and offer an unparalleled collection of 75 handpicked rums matched with a robust selection of cigars for puffing on the patio.
Bands perform four mini shows a night on the catwalk above the central bar, while a Latina dancer spices up the scene. “There’s a lot of energy in the room,” says Livigni. Indeed: Salud! 1159 N. Western Ave., Hollywood; ladescargala.com
LAC celebrates the women of its May/June 2013 issue at Palihouse in West Hollywood.