Venice is and area of Los Angeles that has a very interesting and diverse history. So it is no surprise to hear that the oldest bar in Los Angeles is located only steps from the infamous hanging Venice sign. It was founded in 1915 by Italian immigrant, Cesar Menotti, as a grocery store on street-level entry that masked well the speakeasy located in its basement. Today it is a two-story bar with Townhouse and its world-class selection of bourbon upstairs and The Del Monte music venue in the basement. My first time walking in to this place I felt as if I was transferred back in time to the Prohibition era as the bar tenders were all dressed in era appropriate attire, the floor still contains the original tile and the decor is curated so to feel as if you had just walked through a time portal.
As the night goes on the place begins to fill out, the jazz fades and the more contemporary music will begin to mix with the noise of crowd but the soul of it still remains. Walking down to the basement, it gets hot. The music will begin to shake in your bones and the scent is sweaty. You can feel that energy bursting up from the current performance taking place and personal space has officially become something of the past. It made me wonder if this was what it was like for someone entering this as a speakeasy in the 1920’s. After all, they definitely did not have the best ventilation back then. However, the scene is not always a slow transition from an easy-going, meet up spot to two shaking floors nighttime activity. They have quite a few ongoing events throughout the week that I would highly suggest checking out as well.