Right now I’m in the middle of a scientific process to determine a theory of mine. The theory is that Townhouse is a shape-shifter. Out of the many occasions that I’ve been there, I’ve always left feeling like it was the first time I’d ever been.
On my first visit, I was with my now girlfriend (we were in the early phases of dating). It was pre-pandemic Friday night, and we met up with an old friend of mine who was in town for business, only to stumble out at closing time after rounds of shots in one of their stuffed booths.
The place was packed. Like, walking-around-with-one-arm-in-front-of-you-to-try-and-divide-the-sea-of-people-like-Moses-on-the-way-to-a-bathroom packed. There was a DJ spinning, people dancing, and everyone had to do the in-ear yelling at the person next to them in order to conversate. As far as the atmosphere went, it was on par with any of the hottest clubs in the area.
Nevertheless, Townhouse on a weeknight is a completely different story. Dim light from warm incandescence, vaulted ceilings, and vintage Schlitz statues decorating the ends of the bar immersed me in the bar’s history. A billiards table in place of the DJ booth, and soulful selections at a reasonable volume in place of bouncing dance tracks blasted at club levels transform the space from an ‘It club’ to a classic lounge where friends can get a word in and enjoy their drinks.
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Last week I was put in touch with Vini Mauger, one of Townhouse’s knowledgeable and supremely skilled bartenders, and given the chance to ask him some questions about his experience working for such a longstanding institution, ideas for first dates, and what makes a misunderstood cocktail a favorite.
Vini Mauger: The fact that it is a historical place owned and run by real cool people it makes you feel like you’re part of a family. I feel like it carries some type of energy from all the years it’s been there. I feel it every time I’m in it.
Vini Mauger: I’d have to say our Proper Motherf**^ng Cold Classic Martini is my favorite at the moment. The Martini is the most misunderstood cocktail in many ways. Some people think a Martini is always dirty, made with olives, and with vodka. Others call a coffee drink an Espresso Martini (which can be delicious don’t get me wrong), or a Vodka Sour a Lemon Drop Martini. Basically people think anything that goes in a martini glass can be called a Martini. That’s not correct though. Martini is the name of a classic cocktail created in the early 1900s which basically takes 2 parts Gin 1 Part Dry Vermouth Dash of Orange bitters, stirred and served UP (that means, in any cocktail glass that has a stem for you to hold on to and that carries around 5 to 8 ounces. Like a martini glass.) our Classic Martini has measurements adjusted for a more modern palate but it’s pretty much like the original. It’s just amazing!
Vini Mauger: Very eclectic. We get all demographics, all ages, all types of people in there. Foreigners, locals, LGBTQ, bros, valley girls, people looking for live jazz, people looking at getting lit, people trying to have a conversation over a nice cocktail. Everyone is welcome at Townhouse and we thrive on that diversity.
Vini Mauger: I don’t like going out to bars and busy places, unless it’s a concert. It’s kinda when I get away from the scene. I go hiking, jam with my friends in a studio or someone’s house, and I rest too to get ready for the work load.
Vini Mauger: I like trying restaurants I hear good things about. In Venice, I love Felix (Italian restaurant on Abbot Kinney) quite fancy.
Vini Mauger: I don’t really take that many dates out. But when I do I try keeping it simple. Last girl I took out we went and got some pho at PhoShow. We got real high first and then went; it was an amazing first date. Or, of course, I bring them to Townhouse.
Vini Mauger: I think I have this real positive attitude and I’m very patient with my customers. It’s easy as a bartender to get irritated. Cause a lot of people are needy and complicated. It’s important to be patient and assertive.