Opening night at La Descarga: Rum, rum and more rum
A woman in a silky red dress and high heels greets you from behind a desk in La Descarga's foyer. She checks your reservation (this is after the English-Caribbean door man in a spiffy suit has checked you off his list), then takes mincing steps over to an imposing armoire and proceeds to open it with some flamboyance. She bends over slightly (the better to show off ... the cut of her dress?) and grasps the handles with both hands. There is a dramatic pause, and then she swings open the doors wide and slides over a few guayabera shirts to reveal passage to La Descarga’s interior. Step into L.A.’s new rum bar.
On the menu are about 70 rums for sipping, including Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva, Murray McDavid Guyana 13 year, Sea Wynde, Zaya and Sailor Jerry. Steve Livigni (of the Doheny) and Pablo Moix (of Bacardi USA) oversee the drinks; cocktails include a house daiquiri made with Diplomatico añejo rum and a Tropical Holiday with Velvet Falernum and bitters as well as lime and soda.
A candlelighted hallway leads to a cigar room in the back, where flights of rum will be offered. There are a lot of suits and ties and dresses in the crowd, maybe because La Descarga "encourages guests to dress appropriately for an upscale venue, no sandals, shorts (men), baggy or sports related attire, baseball hats or hoodies."
At some point in the evening, you might see a lithe dancer in hot pants appear on the mezzanine or even on top of the bar, moving to the Afro-Cuban rhythms of a live band. And you might wonder whether you were in Hollywood or Havana. But when you step back out onto Western Avenue (you won't leave the way you came in — there's a separate exit), you will find yourself squarely in Los Angeles, probably ordering a carne asade taco at El Patio next door while you wait for the valet to retrieve your car.
1159 N. Western Ave., Hollywood, (323) 466-1324, www.ladescargala.com.
-- Betty Hallock
Photo: Betty Hallock