“You are welcome to join us or do whatever you like” invites the friendly, low-key yet polished Bar Mattachine. The motto is lifted from the bar’s historical inspiration, the Mattachine Society, a gay rights secret society founded in the 1950s by Harry Hay, whom their resounding fan-favorite cocktail is named after. The Harry Hay is a boozy stir rye cocktail, co-owner and former 1886 barman Garret McKetchnie’s take on an old fashioned. Besides its important nods to the often-cheated, rich L.A. history, Bar Mattachine provides a unique space that separates itself from the kitschier scenes found in West Hollywood, for example.
“We’re less of a gay frat house and more of a place for the cultural and artistic gays of Downtown,” states McKetchnie. The bar houses a clean, crisp minimalist design with hearty wooden décor complemented by funky art deco wallpaper. While Andrew Campbell, a prominent gay artist, provides engaging murals, his sister Charlie Campbell’s expressive lighting design, a combination of Edison bulbs and chandeliers, lends an air of sophistication to the brooding ambiance.
Despite its certain class, Bar Mattachine is still a lively spot to dance the night away in a stupor from impressive, straightforward cocktails crafted by mixologists. About once a month, bar-goers enjoy a performance from drag queen Jackie Beat, the “World’s Biggest Bitch.” Performers such as Beat fulfill the bar’s aim to showcase “drag performances that have something else to it – whether it be being an amazing comedian or great actor with a story,” McKetchnie explains.
The bar also hosts singers, DJ’s on the weekends, and plan on expanding the idea of a weekly piano bar, where patrons can sing or request their favorite tunes. Bar Mattachine welcomes all, it is a space for men and women alike of all persuasions, “with bartenders who have a good knowledge of history, and a history of making craft cocktails,” remarks McKetchnie. Make sure to drop by the effortlessly sleek Bar Mattachine one evening, humbly nestled between an alley and a small hummus restaurant. Despite all the action, you can always expect stellar service, a reliable nightcap, and a great time.
Written by Lucy Rogers-Ciaffa
Photographed by Rozette Rago