Across countless European villages and towns, the bar-tabac serves as the neighborhood all-in-one — It is the place to source items like tobacco and cigarettes, postcards and lotto tickets, and assorted foods and beverages. It is the community watering hole where locals assemble to talk, play games, and convivial vibes reign supreme. Serving as integral parts of their communities, it’s not surprising that such a concept would find its way a couple thousand miles west to another village, albeit of grander size and scale, in Downtown LA. A concept executed by 213 Hospitality, and derived from founders, Eric Alperin and Richard Boccato’s youthful memories, as Bar Clacson.
“It’s a nod to our heritage and an ode to Downtown. It is not meant to be a theme park or a Disney bar. Bar Clacson is an American local with a European accent,” explains Alperin of the space on Broadway, inspired by many overseas trips to the family homeland in France. It only takes a quick glance to recognize the hybrid of French, Italian, and American sensibilities with each flag prominently displayed above the bar. Retaining the elevated approach to craft cocktails synonymous of the 213 Hospitality brand, the bar program calls on European cocktail culture featuring aperitif style drinks composed of a wide selection of Amari, Aperol, Campari, and Grapas.
In addition to the fully stocked bar of proprietary family recipes going back generations: whites, reds, rosés, and Lambrusco can be found on tap. “Lambrusco is an effervescent red wine, it is literally the thing that Italian teenagers drink” says bar manager, Dustin Newsome, who further explains, “With that said, low ABV, refreshing and nuanced like Lambrusco, it is a great option.” Not your style? Think again. Signature cocktails and recommendations include the Prospect Park Swizzle, colorfully layered and composed of silver rum, Aquavit, bitters, fresh lime, and mint over crushed ice and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. The Coffee House is a smooth and surprisingly seductive recipe of whiskey, Espresso liqueur, and orange bitters. Happy hour favorites include the Amaro Mule (Amaro, ginger, lime, soda), the Campari Cooler (Campari, Fresh OJ, almond syrup, lemon), while the Five Dollar Old Fashioned, “Sells itself.”
Cocktails aside, Bar Clacson builds on bartabac vibes by featuring a bodega serving coffee and finger foods like charcuterie boards, paninis, and prosciutto pops — a delicate pairing of Italian ham wrapped around spicy black pepper sourdough Grassini. Directly across the bar is a 27-foot indoor Pétanque court, a French variant of bocce ball most commonly found in villages in the south of France. First time visitors may initially scratch their heads by the numbers under each bottle, but you needn’t worry — that’s the price.
A relative newcomer to the Broadway corridor, Bar Clacson has already established a strong weekend crowd, but is working on attracting commuters and locals with daily happy hours, easy bites, and an accessible vibe. As for the future, Eric Alperin says it best, “Our fearless leader, good friend and partner, Cedd Moses would say, ‘timeless not trendy.’ We want to be here for twenty years.”
Written by Ivan Navarro
Photographed by Gari Askew II