Director Paul Feig Shares His Favorite Los Angeles Drinking Spots

While Angelenos embark on Dry January or Drynuary — the annual practice of giving up booze during the first month of the year — Paul Feig will likely be visiting his favorite LA cocktail bars. The prolific director, actor, and writer is best known for creating the popular TV series Freaks and Geeks spirit directing Bridesmaids. But Feig recently added a new pin to his accomplishment hat: cocktail book author.

In November 2022, Feig published Cocktail Time!: The Ultimate Guide to Grown-Up Fun. In the book, Feig says he is “obsessed with cocktails and cocktail culture” and provides guidance on how to create a home bar, cocktail recipes, and music to listen to while preparing classic drinks. During the early days of the pandemic, Feig even hosted a daily happy hour on Instagram called Quarantine Cocktail Hour by concocting boozy beverages while encouraging guests to donate to causes. Feig participated in all of these activities while wearing his signature three-piece suit.

Eater LA sat down with Feig to discuss his new book, his favorite drink, and what he considers notable Los Angeles bars.

Let’s talk about your favorite bars in Los Angeles. We’ll start with the Smokehouse in Burbank. Why do you love this place?

“I have a real love for those old steakhouses. When I first kind of discovered adult life, I was inside a Vegas casino when I was five years old. My parents had gone to see a Muhammad Ali fight. They put me in the nursery which was on the upper deck of the casino behind a glass sliding door where you could look out onto the floor with people smoking and having martinis. They were dressed up because this was in the late ’60s or early ’70s. I thought, ‘Oh, I want that.’ There was something about the dark burgundy colors and the craps tables with dark wood. When I started going to these older kinds of steakhouses with that color scheme, I thought ‘This is grown-up life.’ Smokehouse is that. It’s great, and the food is what it is, but they make a beautiful ice-cold martini with a little sidecar.”

Why do you list the 100-year-old Musso & Frank Grill as a favorite?

“I love Musso & Frank’s long bar. You might as well be Humphrey Bogart or something when you’re sitting there. Staff are so friendly and wearing uniforms, it’s all about pageantry. They’re so friendly and joke around with you the whole time. And there’s always interesting people at the bar, some who you think are nuts or really interesting. And then other people are just kind of really cool, old Hollywood types or the young folks discovering cocktail culture. As long as they’re not taking too many selfies.”

I hear you have some love for Tower Bar.

“I love LA, but I don’t feel like I’m in LA when I’m in it Tower Bar. You might as well be in New York or somewhere because it’s just got that cool feeling and it’s always been a kind of Hollywood power center and then kind of hip — but it doesn’t feel obnoxious. I love live jazz music when I’m in a bar. It feels old Hollywood to me, even though it’s got a new Hollywood flavor to it.”

Next up on the list is Rao’s (in Hollywood). Why do you go there?

“I love Rao’s because again, it doesn’t feel like LA. It feels like New York, but more like the cooler, old Italian restaurant kind of version. They have a great wooden bar and really good Italian food there too. It’s [also] another dark wood kind of place. It feels grown up but in a more casual way. Before our dinner reservation, we sit at the bar and have drinks which are really fun and sort of down-to-earth.”

I recently went to the Four Seasons Beverly Hills for the first time in decades. Why do you cocktail there?

“The bar is really beautiful. Because it’s a hotel, there’s a very international crowd. There’s something about like a big lobby bar that’s spectacular because you’re almost on a movie soundstage. There’s just something about Beverly Hills’ specific version of class which can be off-putting sometimes, a little bit like a human zoo. It’s just a real melting pot of high-end weirdness. They do make a good martini there.”

I’ve never been to the Cigar and Whiskey Bar, so you’ll have to walk me through it.

“When I found this place, it was hard to get into. But then I had this great moment there because my wife is a big Bollywood movie fan. And somehow we connected with Shah Rukh Khan over Twitter before Twitter was ruined. He was a fan of my movies and I was a fan of his, so we met there. I have this fond association of Cigar and Whiskey Bar, sitting with Shah Rukh Khan and my wife talking for two to three hours having whiskey and martinis and all that.”

Let’s chat about Dan Tana’s.

“Remember when you could smoke at Dan Tana’s? It was terrible actually. Back then [in the ’90s] it felt a little underground, like who are these people that might beat me up? Dan Tana’s is a thrilling version of Rao’s. The food’s big, and the drinks are old-timey, and there’s something wonderful about that. You could just light a cigar and people were eating like five feet away.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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