TJ: Let me say the password.
Me: No. She told me the password so I’m saying it.
TJ: I’m gonna say it.
Me: You better not. I’m gonna be all mobster slick and whisper the password.
TJ: Too bad you can’t whisper.
I paused for a second.
Me: You know what to say right?
TJ was right, I don’t know how to whisper and the last thing I needed was to be kicked out of an event I couldn’t even get into thanks to the unnecessary decibels in my voice. TJ and I had made up since our fight at Bottega Louie and now we were at The Next Door Lounge in Hollywood. We were there to check out the bar’s night of burlesque idol and getting into their VIP section required a password. It was a throwback to the good old days and we liked the method of entry. TJ leaned in to the aptly dressed doorman and whispered, “Bugsey sent me”. The dapper doorman smiled and stamped our wrists. With his bright white glove he pulled open the door and in we went.
We didn’t walk into a time portal that transported us back to the 1920s, but this lounge was probably as close as one could get. The lounge was packed and the show had an hour before it would start. TJ and I joined a few others in the VIP section and ordered a few drinks to start. I got the Debutante ($12). The cocktail was a mixture of Jovelle Vodka, fresh strawberry, lime juice, and rosemary simple syrup. Since I like sweet and fruity drinks, this one was exactly what I wanted. It was sweet like a strawberry Skittle, fresh like a new stick of gum, and utterly delightful.
TJ got the Lock, Stock, and Smoking Barrell ($14). It was made of monkey shoulder scotch, tuaca, dubonnet, amaro, and cherry bitters. It’s definitely a stronger drink that can kick my drink’s butt. It’s stiff and aggressive, but smooth and manageable. Almost an oxymoron in a cup.
A few sips into our drinks, the food started to arrive. The first plate we ordered was the Shrimp Ceviche ($10). I love ceviche because it’s full of flavor, fresh, and if you get it from the right place it can look stunning. At the Next Door Lounge, the ceviche is just that. Served in a cocktail glass comes bay shrimp with fresh onions, cucumbers, avocado, cilantro and lime. Instead of small dices of avocado, they place it central in the cup. This way, you take some of the chips and dive into the avocado only to pick up some of the shrimp. I have to admit that such large slices of avocado aren’t the easiest to eat this way, so smaller portions would have been best, but it is fun to look at!
After the ceviche left the table, the Headless Horsemen ($8) arrived. The description of this plate made it an easy choice. It was feta stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. Whenever I see the words “wrapped in bacon” my gut gets excited. The plate came with four small pieces. To the taste, the bacon exterior was tender while the feta was soft with a bitter aftertaste. But the dates burst with sweetness that blended with the meat and the cheese. It was like a charcuterie board on a stick, minus the uptight restaurant.
The last plate was the Kale and Artichoke Dip ($9). This was really something that caught TJ’s eye as the description didn’t move me any. It was Swiss and cream cheese with hot crostini. When I compared the sound of it to the headless horsemen, it didn’t come off interesting, but I’m always willing to give a dish a chance. When the waitress brought it to us, I was actually surprised. It was piping hot with steam rising out of it. With bread slices punctured into the bowl and atop of the plate, it looked like it was made for people who like to attack their food. And that’s just what we did. The brown crusted cheese had melted so nicely that when we paired it with the bread it melded with it almost instantly. Each time we dipped the bread to get more, it was like diving into a fat pool of cheese. Yes, that may sound gross to someone who watches what they eat, but if you’re a big foodie, then you know that sounds like bliss. Which the dish was; and keep in mind I wasn’t rooting for this one in the beginning. That being said I had no problem eating my words, literally.
In between the drinks and plates was the burlesque idol. It was lively and entertaining. The show was hosted by comedian Scout (blue dress) who I first heard about through Oxygen’s Funny Girls. I’m not going to lie, I kind of had a nerdy “Aren’t you (insert name) from (insert show title)!” moment when I saw her. Thankfully, she wasn’t frightened but pleased by the remark. Scout introduced the ladies who came to the stage and perform. The various ladies put their creativity to work as they showcased their talent and beautiful costumes. There was a little bit of everything, from a Tropicana girl to a balloon beauty. What they all had in common was unshakable confidence. Something I can only get with 3 cocktails and a pack of red vines. I loved each girl, but my absolute favorite was the first one I saw: Nikki Marvin. Her outfit was creative and her vocals were nice, but I loved the aura she gave off.
The entire night was great. From meeting the doorman, dining in the bar, and watching the show, I really enjoyed the Next Door Lounge. It was fun to do more at a bar than just drink and it was refreshing to see women express themselves in such a self-assured and seductive way. It’s a night that I can’t wait to do again. Hopefully by then I’ll know how to whisper and will be the one who gets to say the password.
Address: 1154 Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday – 5:00pm to 12:00pm, Friday – 5:00pm to 2:00am, Saturday – 7:00pm to 2:00am, Sunday and Monday – Closed
Social: Website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Cocktails taste great
- Nice staff
- Cool decor
- Street parking only
- Can get crowded quickly