For a superior cocktail in a glamorous old-Hollywood setting, the Spare Room at the famed Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is a superlative choice. Said to be haunted by the ghost of Marilyn Monroe, who dwelled here for two years, this elegant Spanish Colonial Revival hotel, built in 1927, is an essential part of Hollywood history. It was the home of the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, and Shirley Temple learned her famous tap-dancing stair routine on a Roosevelt’s staircase. Golden Age stars including Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, and Harold Lloyd attended the hotel’s opening. In 1987, English painter David Hockney, famed for his paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools, painted a mural on the bottom of the hotel’s Tropicana pool.
The Spare Room isn’t nearly as old as the hotel it’s housed in — in fact, despite its vintage speakeasy style, it’s been open for just five years. Located on the hotel’s mezzanine, overlooking the Walk of Fame, the elegant Spare Room houses a cocktail bar, a gleaming wood two-lane bowling alley, and a beautifully furnished gaming lounge with board games like Monopoly, chess, Scrabble, and Jenga, hand-crafted from wood or acrylic.
The Spare Room’s Beverage Director Yael Vengroff (previously at Harvard & Stone and several top bars in NYC and London) just unveiled a few new cocktails for spring and yours truly was fortunate enough to try them out.
The Bunny Hill has a British vibe thanks to its Beefeater Gin, lemon curd, and shortbread-cookie garnish. Blanc Vermouth, sage, and an orange slice round out the ingredient list of this tasty libation.
David Hockney would probably approve of the Riptide Rush. Swimming-pool blue in color, it literally glows thanks to the blinking light ice cube within. It’s complex and well-balanced, made with silver tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, elderflower tonic, yuzu, plum wine, Thai basil, and jalapeño.
The tiki-inspired Rumluck comes in a mini punchbowl with two straws, its crushed ice strewn with edible flowers. Even more delicious than it is gorgeous, the Rumluck is made of French Caribbean and Dominican rums, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla, lime, and Peychaud’s bitters.
This mezcal fan loved Warden of the North, a smokey-spicey medley of La Niña del Mezcal, Becherovka, Carpano Antica, Aztec chocolate, clove, and burnt orange.
Also impressive: the Sandpiper, composed of Don Julio Reposado Tequila, spiced pineapple cordial, green cardamom, mole bitters, and lime, topped with champagne.
In January, the Spare Room was honored by Architectural Digest as one of the ten best hotel bars. To visit the Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, go to 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90028. Phone: 323.856.1970