You’ve had a bad day and you just need a drink — not a crazy $20 cocktail filled to the brim with hard to pronounce ingredients — just a simple “heal my life sweet Jesus” drink. Enter Bernadette’s, a bar just a few feet from Grand Central Market on Broadway.
As soon as you walk in, the warm MidCentury tones put you at ease. It’s almost like entering someone’s living room with beer and wine already waiting for you (Oh and please go check out the bathroom wallpaper, we won’t spoil it for you but it’s pretty rad). And that’s exactly what owner Jim VanBlaricum aimed for when he opened up the place back in April. He wanted the small space to be a zero fuss place where he could serve up stuff he stands by.
“I only serve beer that I like. So people can feel confident that it’s an eclectic, ever-evolving list of very good beer.” You’ll mostly find local or California beers (IPAs, Saisons, Stouts) with an occasional out of state brew thrown into the 8-beer rotation as well as refreshing ciders and the size of the spot is what ultimately keeps everything in check.
“It works in our favor because it forces us to be really judicious about what we bring in,” says Jim. Jim admits he’s more of a beer guy so when it comes to wine he leaves the picks up to his bar manager Michael who knows what’s up in that department.
Jim, originally from Santa Barbara, headed East and cut his teeth on the NYC bar scene for a couple of years, learning about beer and bar management along the way thanks to some kind mentors. When he was ready to return to California he knew he wanted to open up a bar.
So here we are, sitting inside his vision with Fleetwood Mac’s “Tango in the Night” album playing on the record player, and a friendly face behind the bar ready to talk to you about the two special sips up on the chalkboard menu prime for this sweaty summer heat: the Frosé O’Donnell and the Michelada.
The Frosé is a frozen smack of relief, kinda like an A/C unit for your mouth in the form of rosé, fresh watermelon juice (juiced in house), fresh grapefruit juice (juiced in house), a splash of simple syrup, orange blossom water, topped with bitters and a lime. It’s neutral despite its bright pink color — a color usually associated with a “too sweet to finish because I’ll wake up with a migraine” drink. Then there’s the Michelada, his own mishmash mix after sampling dozens of recipes. He thinks it’s pretty great but as picky as us LA folk are about a solid Michelada — only you can be the judge.
And since we all know checking out new bars opening up around DTLA is like grownup summer school, make sure to add Bernadette’s to your drinking curriculum, it’s totally worth it.
Written by Linda Hosmer
Photographed by Rebekah Lemire