As you may very well know and perhaps agree, Angelenos have a certain thirst for theatrics, presentation, exquisite taste, and of course, craft cocktails. We bum rush any new opening if we even catch down wind of descriptive words like “saloon”, “apothecary”, “vintage”, etc., and what can we say? we live in Hollywood, we live to feel transported, and to pretend if just for one cocktail we are somewhere exotic. The latest establishment (in the most literal of senses) that has jolted the LA bar scene is a little “umbrella company” located in the heart of the historic Melrose shopping district. Odd you may think, “just when I thought it couldn’t get any weirder or niche than shops like Necromance… really?an umbrella company?”, but this is the part you must not take too literally. “Why is it called Melrose Umbrella Co.?” I asked myself, but I suspected, as it goes with most hip bars and lounges in LA, that it offered no deep or interesting meaning – it probably just sounded cool. When I finally decided to pay a visit to the Melrose Umbrella Co., it was then that I was to be pleasantly surprised and with out a doubt proven wrong.
The history about this little bar is truly cinematic, in fact it’s so important to the owners and bar as a whole that once you are handed their cocktail menu, your first observation is that the entire first page is the history and story behind how Melrose Umbrella Co came to be. It long ago began with a man named James Melrose, who was known as the Mayor of York during the early 1900’s and personally regarded to as “the Grand old Man” by the Queen of freakin England herself and the general public at the time. There is a picture of this man with a top-hat holding an umbrella that resonated with the two men behind Melrose Umbrella Co., those men being Zach Patterson and Austin Melrose – the grandson of James Melrose/”the Grand old Man”.
That was really enough for me to feel incredibly impressed and enthralled over, but it of course the magic in this story did not end there; serendipitously so, the building in which they decided to rent for the space off of Melrose (location being yet another coincidence with part owner sharing the Melrose name himself) was built in 1936, a post-prohibition era at the time. The facts and opportunity at hand creepily coincided with their conceptual hopes to create a post-prohibition inspired space where, as their logo design suggests, “there would be many wet days to come”. The point I found most admirable and unique about Melrose Umbrella Co. is that owners Zach and Austin went into this with the idea to build “a bar built by bartenders”, and to be “the industry clubhouse we never had”. With rockstar mixologists like Brittni Rae Peterson and of course Melrose Umbrella Co. owners/partners Zach Patterson, Austin Melrose, that statement rings true.
The cocktail menu is comprised of a variety of beverages based on spirit preference, it’s seasonal as well which makes it always worth coming back in to see what’s new, and if nothing else, remember who’s serving you when you’re here; if you don’t see something you like I promise they can help create something to fit to your taste. Word to the wise though, come early if you’re in the mood to get creative with your cocktail because after the clock strikes 10pm, the place gets packed – like line around the corner packed. At 8pm though, you’re welcome to post up at the bar or seat yourself at one of the candle lit tables that line the interior and take in the incredible movie-set / old-timey-wonderland like space.
I’m a whiskey cocktail girl, my go-to is a Whiskey Sour, but I have an affinity for experimenting with all the ways in which you can create a “sour whiskey cocktail”. There’s nothing more enjoyable when I give that “sour whiskey cocktail” directive to a bartender and they do what they will with it, especially if I find myself at the right place like Melrose Umbrella Co – it’s unlikely I’ll be disappointed. I ordered the “2 Handed Shady” which is created with Duval triplebock Jameson Black Barrel and Duvel Triple Hop, plus lemon, orgeat (an almond syrup) and Luxardo apricot liqueur – I had no idea what any of that meant really but it sounded crazy enough to say “fuck it” and order it, so I did. The result? Let’s just say it was like sipping nectar; I could have had 10 they were so refreshing, but the real test for me, the ultimate way to achieving my undeniable love and affection is by way of Whiskey Sour. That night on my first visit to Melrose Umbrella Co. I knew I could trust master mixologist Brittni Rae Peterson with my cocktail loving life, but what I got far surpassed anything I’d expected – the bonus mint she threw into the mix… I died and went to frothy egg white beverage heaven.
Melrose Umbrella Co. is a must for my fellow imbibers, and craft cocktail fans; it’s the bar mixologists are proud to be a part of, happy to create, and humbled to visit. Get there early if you’re in the mood to sit down and enjoy conversation, or get there later for the young hip singles crowd. And at the very least should you be more than thirsty, enjoy a god damn delicious grilled cheese from Greenspan’s located next door (don’t worry they’ll bring it to you!) or be teased by the wafting smells of fried carbs that surround you. mm. Bravo on the well deserved success Melrose Umbrella Co.