Worn luggage trunks, art-deco furniture, gold casted lighting fixtures and warm wooden finishes — if Union Station had been built in 1909, it might have looked a little something like this. Westbound, a new arrival in the Arts District late-night scene, embraces the glitz and glamour of voyaging west long before the arrival of Amtrak. On the site of the original La Grande Station, Westbound serves curated craft cocktails and fresh small bites in an environment inspired by luxury railcars of the past.
A former master of some of Los Angeles’ most fashionable drinkeries, owner Sarah Meade knows a cocktail lounge from a watering hole. When Meade decided to open her own bar, she envisioned a place where she could enjoy good company and even better drinks. That’s where Westbound fills a late-night niche.
Comfortable but not stale, Westbound is made for meeting up. In a booth, at the bar, or outside overlooking the old rail yard, guests can sit back and unwind. Meet old friends or make new ones in this environment that’s made for good conversation.
But what’s an interesting conversation without a good drink, neither strong, nor easy-down, just well-made? This is where Westbound reigns. Beyond its design, it embraces an era where everything was well-made, including the cocktails. Take a seat at the bar and find a carefully curated booklet of cocktails in front of you. It’s divided between classics and signatures; the former, reinventions of old favorites; the latter, a collection of untypical flavors that blend surprisingly well. This menu will satisfy even the pickiest palette.
“Everything is done here with a flavor focus,” said Dee Ann Quinones, a seasoned bartender who’s made the rounds curating cocktail menus in London and New York. “L.A. has awesome food, but it’s time for our cocktails to be on that level. That’s what we’re doing here.”
Quinones curates Westbound’s cocktail menu every season. She says she’s not a fan of the label “mixologist,” but knows how to tastefully blend vodka, yuzu, thyme, sage, and peat smoke to be “elegantly zesty.” In September, she updated the menu to reflect the changing seasons, embracing autumn flavors while introducing heavier, warmer cocktails.
Serving up a sampler of her fall menu, Quinones starts with the Eastbound Plane, a modern spin on an old-school favorite. Buffalo Trace bourbon is shaken with Meletti, East India sherry, and a pinch of mandarin shrub. It’s served straight up, in a coupe.
L’Automne fully embraces the flavors of the season, but beware – this is no Pumpkin Spice Latte. Served in a chilled milk jug with a straw, this cocktail is presented like an innocent milkshake. Hold on to your guilt as you sip a blend of cooled Appleton rum, Linie Aquavit, fresh apple juice, spiced syrup, Becherovka, and a whipped egg for texture. It goes down smooth, not sweet, not bitter. It’s garnished with a caramelized cinnamon and nutmeg meringue.
What would fall be without something to warm you up? The Pumpkin Toddy is “built like tea,” and served hot in a coffee cup. Who knew pumpkin ale, Monkey Shoulder whisky, Licor 43, pumpkin spices and citrus went so well together? This drink will make you wish you lived in a colder climate zone so you had an excuse for your craving.
Westbound’s fall menu is available until the end of November. After that, a special holiday-themed pop-up menu will be curated.