Thursday, July 7, 2011

Joe Brooke's Next Act

For those of you who have been wondering what has become of Joe Brooke, the erstwhile bar manager of the Edison and handsome winner of reality television competition America's Top Bartender, the mystery has been solved. Brooke has packed up his bar spoons and decamped to open and manage Next Door Lounge, a speakeasy lounge on Highland Avenue in Hollywood.

The cocktail list is still in flux and includes both classic and modern cocktails.  On the evening of my visit only three of the seven modern cocktails on the list were Brooke creations.  I sampled the Shimmy, made with Hennessy VS, Sazerac Rye, jasmine liqueur, blood orange liqueur and lemon juice.  This (a Joe Brooke cocktail mixed by the man himself) was a frothy and refreshing cocktail with a strong backbone.

It will be interesting to see how Next Door Lounge evolves.  It is a large space for a speakeasy, although only a fraction of the size of the Edison.  A food menu is available as well for those who like to munch while they sip their bespoke cocktails.  I agree with Daniel of ThirstyinLA who recommended that the owners let Brooke jump into the deep end of the punch bowl.  Why hire one of the best bartenders in town and not let him create the whole drink menu?  Silly and not a good investment.  Hopefully they will come to their senses and give him more free reign.

I have not fully explored the menu and look forward to trying more of the drinks.  You should check it out as well.  Look for the neon key sign outside to signal you in for a cocktail or two.

Next Door Lounge: 1154 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood.  Phone: (323) 465-5505.  Website:

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