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Now Boarding: An Aviation-Themed Bar in L.A.

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An exciting new cocktail bar has landed in Los Angeles, not too far from TPG Travel Editor Melanie Wynne. For all you fans of aviation history (and booze), here is her review. 

Several miles north of LAX, Los Angeles now has a fun version of a first-class airport lounge that costs nothing to enter. Now Boarding, a new cocktail bar on the eastern edge of West Hollywood, is a dimly-lit getaway with a kitschy, stylish blend of Pan Am’s Mid-Century Modern decor and Catch Me If You Can cool.

now-boarding-bar-los-angeles
Now Boarding, a vintage cocktail bar in Los Angeles, has a 1960s aviation theme

Like many bars in L.A., the facade of Now Boarding is windowless and nondescript—from its unlovely stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, you could almost mistake it for a warehouse. A pair of friendly airline-style logos are the only clue that it’s worthy of checking in/out, but your curiosity will be well rewarded.

Airplane-style seat flaps are a nice touch
Airplane-style seat flaps are a nice touch

The interior offers space for little more than a sardine-packed 75 people, and a far more comfortable 50. Leather-upholstered booths are modeled after airplane seats—back when airline seats were almost as wide as bar booths—and feature headrest flaps with the Now Boarding logo. The crown and pendant lights that hang from the ceilings, as well as the geometric wood-carved grids along the walls, evoke airport terminals from the 1960s; think Saarinen’s TWA glory at Idlewild (JFK) or New Orleans’ elegant, barrel-ceilinged Moisant.

Peanuts with your cocktail/flight?
Peanuts with your cocktail/flight?

You’ll find Now-Boarding-branded packages of peanuts rather than a menu of bar snacks, and in addition to an exit door labeled Departure Gate, you’ll see a few black-and-white photos depicting glamorous stewardesses from an era that far preceded the term “flight attendant.” The room’s focal point, though, is a world-map mural that not only highlights most of the places on Earth you might want to visit, but also popular flight paths to reach them.

The highlight of the decor: a world-/flight-path map that depicts just about any place you’d want to go.

The complex cocktails here veer towards sweet and spicy, with cheeky names like Wheels Up (which has a healthy pour of peach whiskey and a dash of aperol) and my personal favorite, the D.B. Cooper—a velvet-hammer concoction of Altos Blanco tequila, watermelon and jalapeño that could even ease a mid-air jump from a Boeing 727.

The tequila-based D.B. Cooper—a velvet hammer in a glass
The tequila-based D.B. Cooper—a velvet hammer in a glass

When next you’re in L.A., I’d recommend giving this cozy bar a whirl—it’s the next best thing to a premium-class upgrade.

Now Boarding is open every night from 6 p.m.-2 a.m., with happy hour all night Monday as well as 6-8 p.m. from Tuesday-Friday, and a DJ spinning on Sundays.  Due to its small size, table reservations are recommended. (323.848.8447)

Is there an aviation/travel-themed bar in your town or city? Let us know about it in the comments below!
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