8300 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Cactus Lounge at the Standard website
Parking: Valet - $5 w/ validation (3 hours)
Times: 5-8pm Food & Drink Deals: Sunsetter Deal – your choice of one appetizer and one liquor drink for $10
The Standard sets the Standard. I know, really Cheez Whiz – at least it’s a nicer sentiment than the Standard is Sub-Standard or the Standard is Standard. See, the Standard is cool – it’s not too fancy (think Sunset Tower), not too swank (think W Hotel), not too ghetto (think the termite-tent hotel down the street from HHT Headquarters), and just a little bit hipster; it’s young and for the young at heart, it’s fun, and now they have a “Sunsetter” Happy Hour where you can grab a bite and a drink for $10!
My work pal, TAG and I made it out for the recent Cinco De Mayo holiday. Given the holiday’s status as Amateur Night* #3 – coming in after Amateur Night #1 New Year’s Eve and Amateur Night #2 St. Patrick’s Day, we forwent the traditional celebration at a Mexican bar, and decided on a nice quiet “Sunsetter” Cinco de Mayo. *That’s not to say we don’t love fledgling boozers, we just love ‘em in smaller doses :)!
When we arrived, the pool area looked fine, but the beautiful natural light in the lounge area reflecting off the desert-scape wallpaper beckoned us. We quickly decided on our drinks – Corona for TAG and margarita for me – and apps – the hummus & pita and calamari to share. The drinks were good, my margarita was actually pretty strong, and the food was excellent! The presentation was beautiful in mod c-shaped bowls that matched the shape of the lounge’s wicker chairs. And I couldn’t get over the fantastically inventive fried dried lemon wedges included with the calamari.
There wasn’t much of a crowd to speak of until a group came to location scout for some sort of event. The group included a guy I knew from somewhere, but couldn’t place him until it hit me like a bolt of lightning the next day – it was Todd Chester (link imdb) of “Todd & Margo” from NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION fame, one of the great screen icons of yuppie-dom! The group’s leader was a little annoying moving the wicker chairs around us while we enjoyed our otherwise placid dining/drinking, but one of the bartenders quickly re-arranged them back into the Feng Shui arrangement (my inner Todd & Margo coming out here :).
The scene was also cool because of the live DJ spinning his playlist in the lobby. I don’t know if this is a normal occurrence, especially when there aren’t that many people at the bar/pool, but it certainly added to the hotel’s charm in the key of understated cool. The music was somewhat loud, prompting a friend who joined us to remark, “this place is fun to visit for 5 minutes, but then you’ve got to be on your way.” Maybe the outside pool area would be a better spot for folks who don’t like the music.
Anyhow, we totes dig the Sunsetter deal, but it seems like these hotel-bar Happy Hours change even more often than regular Happy Hours, so get over there while the getting’s good!
Rating: 4 Martinis