April 04 2010
Some years ago, my friend Simon’s marriage to a Russian model collapsed, but it left him with an enduring love of flavoured vodka that he passed on to me – his confidant at the time.
He was living in Los Angeles, and it was to Bar Marmont on Sunset Strip that we headed so that Simon could drown his sorrows in fruity infusions of lemon, raspberry and orange. With its black lacquered walls and swaying red lanterns, Bar Marmont was sufficiently seedy to suit Simon’s moribund mood yet with a plentiful array of beautiful girls to inspire hope for future amours.
Today, Bar Marmont – now once more under the control of the Chateau Marmont hotel after more than a decade in different hands – still has an impressive menu of vodkas and cocktails. And the food by Carolynn Spence, former chef de cuisine of the New York gastropub The Spotted Pig, really hits the mark, with an ingenious range of bar snacks and hearty pub food.
Most importantly, other than a few respectful touch-ups, Bar Marmont itself remains unchanged. Its warren of long skinny rooms retains the louche glamour you might expect from a venue whose associated hotel looks part French château and part Hitchcock’s Psycho, and which, thanks to the demise of comedian John Belushi in Chateau Marmont’s Bungalow 3, is the first stop on most LA Death Tours.
Critically, nobody has touched the butterflies that are glued to the ceiling of Bar Marmont: the perfect accompaniment to that light and floaty feeling after several chilled and fruity Belvedere vodkas.