Because it’s been a long week and we could all use a drink.
Los Angeles is never one to deny its citizens and visitors a moment to get tanked. With storied tales of booze and woe, dreams broken and made, L.A. has a long, flowing narrative of alcohol to guide us. Perhaps there’s something cozy and reassuring about being blackout drunk under a swaying palm tree.
Like most places on earth, some joints in this town are better to drink from than others. Some are older and more decrepit, others too loud or too hip, but one remains both upscale, divey, cool, and iconic all at same time. That place is The Dresden, a welcome and necessary mainstay in a rapidly changing city.
When deciding to move to LA, my friend, who’d already lived here for years, was showing me the best spots around town. We went to many, some lame, some great, but none were as magical (yes, magical) to me as The Dresden. I don’t know why, but this place captured the person in me that I’d always wanted to be – someone relaxed enough to appreciate it, and someone who loves jazz. That night, after many drinks and carbohydrates, I finally decided L.A. was the place for me. I also reinvested in building my vinyl jazz collection, but I digress.
The Dresden is an entertainment venue first, a cocktail lounge second, and third a place to dine. The business has been around since 1954, serving traditional American food on perhaps the same plates since, offering a decent variety of choices. I like the french fries, but what do I know? They make a mean Manhattan, too.
The thing is, though, you’re not going for the food, or the booze, really. You are going for the legendary Marty & Elayne. A crown jewel of our beloved metropolis, these elderly veteran jazz singers have played at this very spot, six nights a week, for 35 years. From Flea and Nicolas Cage joining them on stage, to Julia Roberts tossing back the bar’s famed drink, Blood & Sand as she sings along, this Hollywood couple is loved by all.
I say this with confidence: they are everything you’ve ever wanted in a bewigged, elderly married couple playing American standards on a Friday night. When we were there they were taking requests, and their rendition of Blue Velvet – my choice – broke my heart in all the right ways.
There is no place like The Dresden, and I like it that way.
Featured in films like Swingers and That Thing You Do, it has become an internationally adored nightspot for locals, movie buffs, and tourists alike. More importantly, though, it’s an institution, an important part of the city’s fabric, and a comfortable (and perfectly strange) place where Angelenos can rest their weary bottoms and have a god damn drink in style.