Dazzling variety defines the beating heart of downtown LA and one of its true treasures: Greenbar Distillery in the Arts District, LA’s first and biggest since Prohibition. In fact, it boasts the most diverse portfolio of organic spirits in the world. Add in a visit to a hidden gem of a park, and you’ve got the makings of a tasty and spirited adventure.
While Greenbar’s guided tour is impressive, the tasting session is overwhelming. You get to select six samples of their 17 current spirits—tough choices, since you’ve just heard the unique story behind each. Choose from whiskeys, tequilas, rum, vodka, gin, Fruitlab liqueurs (orange, ginger, and hibiscus cocktail supplements), and even bitters. A Weekend Sherpa favorite is the Grand Poppy Amaro, whose inspiration came from native plants encountered on local hikes. With this kind of repertoire, it’s no surprise that their weekly cocktail classes are so popular.
POST-SIPS STROLL: You may never want to leave this haven, but nearby Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights is not to be missed. It’s a 1.5-mile walk from the distillery, or you can drive to the lot just north of Saint Louis and 4th Streets to start a 1-mile loop through the park. Enjoy views of Hollenbeck Lake, the downtown skyline, and, yes, the busy I-5. Head down the hill to the paved path and then right to create a counterclockwise loop. The serene lake and redwood-dotted island are home to a miscellany of waterfowl, including coots, ducks, egrets, and geese. You’ll soon reach a pretty bridge and a surprising variety of trees, including jacaranda, oaks, eucalyptus, palms, bamboo, and pines. No need to bring trail snacks, since you can grab a paleta (fresh-fruit ice) or taco from a vendor, and savor your treat on one of the park’s many benches. As we said, variety is truly the LA spirit.
Take the I-10 to the 4th St. exit. Head east on 4th, turn immediately right on Saint Louis St., and look for street parking, or park in the small lot up the hill. Tours ($12) are on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Visit the Greenbar website for times and reservations. No dogs in distillery.