Next Door Lounge, Hollywood’s newest ode to the 1920’s speakeasy fantasy, opens tomorrow evening on Highland Ave. The project springs from Ferris Wehbe, owner of neighboring restaurant The Corner, and plans to be a late-night destination minus any velvet rope drama. A press release calls this mixology hub "recession-proof," which is kind of like throwing a gimlet into the face of fate, but it’s easy to understand the confidence with the addition of Edison barman and On the Rocks’ winner Joseph Brooke making the drinks. And that’s not the only move that makes Next Door Lounge feel like Hollywood is finally taking a cue, and plenty else, from The Edison.
The 4,000 square feet of Next Door Lounge (which everyone will no doubt get confused with Little Door and Little Next Door) is barricaded by reclaimed double metal doors which open onto a room of industrial vintage glamor with bare brick, black and white films projected onto the walls, grainy photos of bootleggers past, and an assortment of leather couches and high-backed chairs. There will also be two communal tables where the conversation will contain about 700% more "OMG’s" and "likes" than were ever uttered at The Brown Derby or Algonquin.
This spot will center on cocktails, with Brooke adjusting the contents of famous twenties libations like the French 75 and Ward 8, plus original concoctions like a "Volstead & Vice," made with Illegal Mezcal Joven, Pernod, and cucumber water, or a fun-to-order drink called "The Dame Next Door," which contains Canadian Club, clove-infused pineapple gomme syrup, pineapple juice, egg white, and Angostura.
To soak it all up, Corner vet Fidel Mendez is conceiving grass fed beef and buffalo sliders with Asiago and crispy onions, tostadads with chicken tinga, avocado, and a chipotle garnish, and a variety of Chicago-style pizzas made in a wood-burning oven as the lounge’s exec chef. Pastry chef Frania Mendivil will chase it all with some sweetness.
Meanwhile, live music will try to make the place swing, relieving you from the pain of so many bread lines and the tireless gauntlet of global calamity. If that doesn’t work, stick your head back in the booze and drink deeply. Rinse and repeat.
Next Door Lounge, 1154 N Highland Ave. Hollywood. 323-465-5505.