Though my Loop Magazine features have been littered with recommendations for mezcal cocktails from various LA venues, I have yet to review an actual mezcal bar. Well, it’s about damn time, and what better place to start than with Las Perlas WEHO. Now, let me back up for a second for all the novices and vodka drinkers . . . Mezcal is a smoky liquor made from agave and typically distilled in Oaxaca. It’s sort of like if tequila and scotch had a baby, and that baby was fucking perfection. Or if you were drinking good tequila around a campfire and inhaling the smoke as you sipped. Most menus now feature at least one mezcal cocktail – typically something very balanced, using a fruit or flavored liqueur to offset the sometimes-abrasive smoldering sensation – as this trend (which, for the record, I was way ahead of) has become a crowd favorite. Yet mezcal also makes a good base substitute for some commonly ordered cocktails, such as an old fashioned or a spicy margarita. I’ve graduated to enjoying mezcal on the rocks, but trust me, it’s not for the faint of heart.
A visit to Las Perlas WEHO is like a quick vacay to a Baja cantina, from the dim lights to the colorful decor to the menu itself. On my first excursion to the Santa Monica Blvd location, I lingered at the bar in the front room, ogling the layers upon layers of shelves filled with mezcal bottles I’d never even seen, backlit with florescent lights, and adorned with chicken figurines (yes, you read that right). After perusing the menu, I landed on Cielito Lindo. The description, which compared the drink to a mezcal martini and literally says ‘might make you text your ex,’ was just too tempting to pass up (someone take my phone!). A truly azure cocktail courtesy of the Blue Spirulina, I was reminded of my teen years drinking Adios Motherfuckers south of the border (San Diego residents will know). However, this version was much more drinkable, lightly sweet but certainly mezcal forward. What was consistent, was the fact that after one of these, I was indisputably inebriated – thank God for tacos.
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In the back room, there is what-can-only-be-described-as a taco stand serving up some of the best tacos I have had in Los Angeles (a big statement, and I mean it with sincerity). I went with a pork option which arrived juicy with pickled red onions to add a twinge of tang and side sauces galore. If they stayed open past 2am, I guarantee Las Perlas would catch the club Let Out – hungry, horny drunks in search of sustenance before their night ends. I, for one, would go back for the tacos alone, but let’s be real, I’m not entering a mezcal bar and not ordering a drink. Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that the food options rounded out my entire experience, making Las Perlas officially an all-time LA fave.
While Friday and Saturday nights have a significant bar scene, other events draw new and diverse crowds to the location. Sporadic drag brunches have made a splash and stores like Ok.Ok.Vintage have hosted shopping events. So add this stop to your list of LA nightlife go-tos and join the growing mezcal gang!