The Wolves: Separate From The Pack
Upon walking into The Wolves you’d be forgiven if you thought that you were entering one of LA’s classic bars. After all, it lives in the Hotel Alexandria building, which, when it opened in 1911, was so lavish and opulent that it hosted such luminaries as England’s King Edward VIII and U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt.
You may notice the stained glass ceiling covering the room, or the beautiful tiled floors. Perhaps you’re drawn to the lighting, the bar, the tables, the booths. Everything feels right in place, everything feels as if it has been there forever.
“That was intentional,” says co-owner Daniel Salin. “We started working on this project three years ago, and as soon as we walked into this space we knew we wanted to make a bar that felt like it had been here for a hundred years.”
“The ceiling was taken from a train station in Paris, Illinois,” notes co-owner Al Almeda. “The tiles on the floor are original Batchelder tiles -- one of the lead tilemakers of the early 20th century.”
“We kept the patina on everything,” says Salin. “We didn’t want Disneyland. We wanted edgier. I describe it as ‘dilapidated opulence’.”
If the space wasn’t magnificent enough, once you slide up to the bar you’ll encounter a cocktail list put together by co-owner Kevin Lee and served by his crack team of master barmen and women. Lee, dressed impeccably, will present a menu that doesn’t quite look like any other menu out there. The drinks Lee has concocted come with titles such as “Mostly Carrots” and “Beets & Plums”. Why? “Because that’s what they’re made with,” Lee explains.
“I make as much as I can in-house,” says Lee. “My liquors, my Negroni, my Campari. Most people have never had homemade spirits before, just store-bought, so most cocktails taste the same no matter if you’re in LA or Tokyo.”
Lee has made it his mission to eat in some of the best restaurants in the world, which he notes directly inspires the care and craftsmanship that he puts into each and every one of his cocktails. He also feels strongly inspired by the fresh produce he can find in Southern California, using it to make his homemade liquors. “If I was making cocktails in Japan or Mexico my whole flavor profile would change.”
The Wolves is what happens when master craftsmen meet and collaborate. Between Lee’s cocktails and Alameida and Salin’s design, The Wolves reaches just a bit farther and a bit higher than the already stellar selection of bars downtown.
“We knew it would be a great bar,” says Salin, “but we knew if we went a little crazier it’d be an amazing bar.”
It is for this reason that The Wolves separates itself from the pack. Come inside, turn off your phone, and let yourself get a little lost in the world that harkens back to a gilded past yet remains firmly in the present.
Written by Abel Horwitz | Photography by Robiee Ziegler