Like so many other neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Los Feliz is home to multiple buildings that are cinematic as well as local landmarks. One such iconic locale is the Dresden, and today we’ll take you on a tour of this atmospheric bar.
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Since its opening in 1954, The Dresden attracted the attention of directors seeking to capture a sense of Old Hollywood magic because its interior gives such a strong impression of glamor and character – it’s the paradigmatic midcentury Hollywood lounge.
In the mood for more music venues in Los Feliz? Check out our post on the Rockwell Table & Stage!
The Dresden’s most famous star turn was in indie classic Swingers – it’s the setting for the “You’re so money!” speech Vince Vaughn’s Lothario character delivers in an attempt to inspire his friend to approach the object of his desires. The Dresden acknowledges the homage with a permanently-installed Swingers poster, which you can find on the wall leading to the back exit. En route, you’ll also be able to check out a wall of headshots donated by the Dresden’s celebrity patrons and regulars, including Jon Hamm, Dolly Parton, Jay Leno, and Adam West
The Dresden has starred in more than one cult classic – it also features in a pivotal scene in comedy That Thing You Do, as the place where striving musician Guy Patterson, played by Tom Everett Scott, finally meets his idol, musician Del Paxton, played by veteran character actor Bill Cobbs. For many moviegoers, the Dresden forms part of their image of classic Hollywood cool and characteristic Hollywood luxury – it’s also been the stand in for that essential Hollywood lounge atmosphere in Los Angeles-filmed movies like Anchorman and What Women Want.
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As soon as you enter through the front door off noisy Vermont Avenue, you’re instantly transported back to the Los Angeles of the silver screen era. The Dresden’s interior has been carefully preserved ever since its renovation in the sixties by then-proprietor Carl Ferraro, and the quiet interior is the perfect place to escape from the crowded streets of contemporary Los Angeles.
As your eyes adjust to the dimly-lit lobby, you’ll see a private room to the right, perfect for intimate gatherings or a refuge from the crush of the always-busy bar area. On the left, you’ll see the restaurant, fitted out in true midcentury style with white leather booths and striking floor-to-ceiling light fixtures. The menu also has a vintage feel, with classic American fare like prime rib and pork chops. The menus capture the succulent Continental fare that was characterized American midcentury fine dining, with offerings like rack of lamb and the hearty chateaubriand for two.
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Straight ahead from the lobby is the lounge, equipped with unforgettable retro-chic décor: semicircular brown leather booths lining the faux rock walls and richly-toned wood paneling, or small white tables with red rolling chairs clustered in the center of the room. If you’d like to be close to the action, you can sit at the long table that wraps snugly around the piano at the center of the room. Heavy globe chandeliers adorn the ceiling. The bartenders wear tuxes, mixing drinks efficiently and expertly – and be warned: cocktails at the Dresden are made at midcentury strength, with liberal pours of whiskey, gin, vodka, and rum. Old-fashioned cash registers are used to settle your tab at the end of the evening.
Music-lovers who visit after 9 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday – the Dresden’s most popular hours by far – you can sip your cocktail as you listen to live music provided by resident jazz musicians Marty and Elayne, who have been playing soulful jazz standards at the Dresden since 1982. Sometimes they’ll share the stage with a select roster of guest musicians, but more often than not, Elayne plays the piano as Marty plays the drums or strums along on the upright bass. The duo also appeared in Swingers.
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Looking for the perfect place to see a concert? Visit the Greek Theater in Los Feliz!
If you were enchanted by the Dresden when you saw it on the silver screen, or if you just want to grab a drink and listen to some live jazz in watering hole fit for the Rat Pack, then head to the Dresden. Their signature cocktail, the Blood and Sand, is a tart blended rum drink not unlike a cross between a margarita and a Jamaica. If you prefer to stick with classic drinks, you can’t go wrong with an expertly chilled martinis or a bittersweet old-fashioned. The bar is open until two every day but Sunday, when it closes at eleven.
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