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“a woman walks into a bar…” at the Peninsula Hotel & the Roger Room

on 25/07/11 at 11:22 am

a woman walks into a bar..., BoozeBlog

Beverly Hills, land of the rich, the famous, social climbers and lost souls, occasional murderers and captains of industry. All potential, covert Johns. And where might these Johns be? Well, at the Peninsula Hotel bar, of course, where hookers offer room service with your cocktail, and Hollywood talent agencies are a stone’s throw away so it doesn’t take a lot to imagine the bar is an excellent place to troll for Johns. At least that’s what I heard, so the only way to find out is to hop in my car and hightail it over there.

I stand breathlessly before The Club Bar anticipating scenes from Caligula, tangled bodies spilling champagne, licking it off various body parts, squeals of delight, hotel keys thrown in a pile but…huh? What? It’s as bloody quiet as a library – people serenely sipping their drinks with no evident thoughts of debauchery. Hmmm. Ah, it must be too early. And, there is no way anyone is going to mistake me for a hooker – even with my shirt unbuttoned a little too low (hell, it probably just looks like I forgot to button it) so in I go.

There’s a spot at the bar next to a gentleman with a shock of white hair, a passable double for Kenny Rogers. We make eye contact. Could he be here on…”business”? He makes a remark about the cushy bar chairs. Cushy bar chairs. Is that code for…well, you know…so we chat about his iPad, the book he’s reading, his drink, the law, mediation…wait a minute, this isn’t going toward hooker territory! But there are two bombshells (his word) to his right. Could they be??? Ooops, they’re leaving. Did they get a ‘business’ text? Anyway, we settle into blah blah bar talk and he finally packs it in. So much for hooker research and now I am totally alone at the bar.

The Club Bar

John, the bartender, is making my Manhattan – no, they don’t have Buffalo Trace, he’s never heard of it –  made with Makers Mark, Cinzano Sweet Vermouth, bitters and an old school cherry. Just a minute, he’s shaking it. What the hell’s with the ice bits floating on top? Nevermind, it’s hard to screw up a Manhattan. I mean to the point of it being undrinkable. John asks how’s the drink? Me: It’s, um, good…noticed you shook it…usually it’s stirred. He: What? Never heard of that. Me: Yeah, it’s a classic…that’s the way it’s usually made. He: I’ve been here 16 years and I’ve always made it that way. Never heard of stirred. Helloooo, Peninsula hotel, time to update your cocktail program!

Can you see the bits of ice floating on top?


Hey, John, I’ve gotta question. I heard this bar was known for its… He: Call girls…everyone asks about that. All. The. Time. Oh, so where are they? Can you point one out? (What a lame question, right?) John assures me that the call girl problem was cleaned up 10 years ago(!) but they can’t shake the reputation. They cleaned ’em out out – undercover – used to be 5, 6 girls jumping from table to table, quite a scene. So where’d they go? He: The Four Seasons. Me: Really? How’d you know that? He: My bartender friends tell me the place is crawling with them. Damn, I’d head over to the action at the Four Seasons but I remember the last time I was there a couple of years ago, my Campari and soda was 20 bucks. What could it be now especially since it’s hooker heaven? Disappointed, I realize I need a good drink so I jump off my ‘cushy bar stool’ and head over to the Roger Room where really good cocktails are the standard.

Hi Roger Room! The Roger Room is small but I wedge my way into a place at the bar. I peruse the joint and notice an old guy with the seemingly standard mop of white hair, shaded aviators, stirring his drink, perched in the corner, staring at me. Ack, where’s the drinks list? The place is full, not packed and the vibe is relaxed and fun. Cute bartender #1 asks what I’d like. I hope he can’t read my thought cloud. Well, Manhattan’s my drink so can you make something like that but different? Oh, this is delicious. It’s called an American Trilogy: Michter’s, apple jack, honey and probably some other stuff and he manages to make it yummy without being fruity or sweet. A couple of young guys squeeze in beside me, we chat about the wedding rehearsal dinner they’ve just come from. Heh, people are still getting married? They look at me like I’m a space alien. Yeah, we’d definitely get married if we just found the right girl. Oy. They’re 26. I go into my spiel about not getting married before you’re 30, take your time, be prepared, be very prepared. I try not to be too cynical but they are definitely starry eyed. And innocent.

Cute bartender #2…there are a few of them…and #1 asks about why I’m taking notes which leads to telling them about “a woman walks into a bar…” They love the idea and I divulge my love for dive bars. Oh boy, we’re off and running about, “Have you been to this one? To that one?” and #1 writes out a list for me. Thank you, Adorable Bartender…will I run into you in any of them?!

The Peninsula Hotel
9882 South Santa Monica Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 551-2888

The Roger Room
370 North La Cienega Bouldvard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 854-1300