My friend Marcus told me something that sums up the Library Bar @ the Roosevelt Hotel: “The Library Bar isn’t where you go to get drunk, it’s where you go to drink.”

And so dies the age of syrup-y fruit-crammed martinis.

Blame it on the indie success of “Mad Men,” but there is serious rise in the demand for old-fashioned drinks.  The drinks our grandfathers drank.  Drinks with gin, bourbon and bitters.  Drinks with ingredients not easily found at BevMo.

The Library Bar (not to be confused with the much more crowded Library Bar Downtown) is in the heart of Hollywood Tourist country.  It’s at the famed Roosevelt Hotel, whose design would be recognized by anyone familiar with the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  The hotel is surrounded by Walk of Fame icons Jimmy Stewart and Hedy Lamarr, and is itself a tourist trap.

However, the Roosevelt boasts a bizarre combination of undiscovered treasures, as well as things that trap the tourists, like stories that it houses the ghosts of no less than Montgomery Clift and Marilyn Monroe.

The Library Bar is just one of those treasures, tucked far back in the corner of the lobby, without signage, and without (apparently) much business.  The lobby tourists avoid it like the plague, it would seem.  Not to speak ill of the place.  It’s lounge is impeccably swank.

Right away, you notice something odd.  There’s no set menu.  It’s possible to order a beer (Marcus and I spotted one sorry bastard committing such an abomination), but this is one of those bars where you put your confidence in the bartender to “surprise you” and tell you what you’re having.

There appear to be two regular bartenders here: a chatty one who Food Networks you through the entire process of making your drinks, and a ninja one, who finishes making the drink before you had a chance to register what bottle he grabbed for.

Marcus and I opted for mystery instead of transparency.

We gave the Quiet Man a rundown of how we usually drink:  me, Gin & Tonic; Marcus, Rum & Juice.  I don’t mind telling you these drinks were 15 dollars each.  You are paying for quality here.  Go to the Abbey on a Saturday night, and watch them hand you a dixie water cup full of pink shit for the same price.

In this place, one is enough.  It took two drinks for us to figure that out.

I had a lovely gin something-or-other that smacked of cucumber and ginger.  Marcus had a hint of blackberry to his rum, as well as basil and whole bay leaf for a garnish.  The most fun I had all evening was in using my flavor sensors to sniff out the various potential ingredients.  It’s been a long time since I allowed myself to savor something like that.  Very Buddhist.

The front bar was a veritable garden.  Not only were there maraschinos and lime slices, but stalks of all kinds of fresh herbs and veggies littered the bar.  I saw a guy get a carrot in his drink!

On our second round, slurry with confidence in our newfound bon vivant status, Marcus and I hazarded a guess that the small dish our bartender was pulling from contained potato slices.  They were actually slices of whole ginger.  I’d love to say that he was a snooty prick about correcting us, what with his big fancy bar with veggies and no set menus, but in my one-drink state, my judgment is a little compromised.  Everyone past that point was either the greatest guy in the world or a jagoff who thought he was better than me.

Yes, my friends, two is too much.  But, then, one isn’t enough.  Isn’t that truth?

Library Bar is at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood, CA.

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Adam Sass

Adam Sass

ADAM SASS is a journalist and copy editor for Mediaplanet, which prints in USA Today. His short story appeared in the anthology STARLING SCI-FI: NEW TALES OF THE BEYOND and was nominated for Best Science Fiction Story by Writer’s Digest. He lives in New York City with his husband and two dachshunds.

Keep up with Adam’s pop culture blogging at GeeksOut.org and on his (over)active Twitter: @TheAdamSass.