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There are plenty of great bars in Long Beach—but the city is so spread out that it’s sometimes difficult to get a real grasp of where you should be, and when you should be there. The good news is we’re here to help. Whether you’re in the mood to day drink by the ocean, listen to live music, sip amazing craft cocktails, or play bar games in a basement all night, this is your guide to drinking extremely well in Long Beach.
There are old-school dives and there are tiki bars. Somehow, Bamboo Club combines the best of both these worlds. You can sip a mai tai next to a small waterfall, but you can also drink a beer and play pool. The bamboo-clad walls are a bit gimmicky, but the live music shows every Sunday night feel like laid-back community events. Servers wear cheesy Hawaiian shirts, but the Hawaiian bar snacks are tasty. Even if you’re not usually into tiki bars, you’ll probably enjoy yourself at Bamboo Club. Take note: the bar area inside is usually pretty tame compared to the rowdier patio in the rear parking lot.
If sipping a mezcal cocktail on a downtown Long Beach rooftop sounds like your thing, head to Mezcalero. You’ll have to enter through the Mexican restaurant Padre on the bottom floor and walk up a grand staircase, but this cocktail spot is no secret speakeasy. On Friday and Saturday nights, people get dressed up and wait in line for hours to land a spot up here. Their vine-covered patio is one of the city’s most pleasant spots for a drink date, and the party doesn’t stop until 2am. They don’t take reservations, so we recommend swinging by as early to snag a table.
Most people come to Grasshopper for a chill drink in a room that feels like a set piece from Mad Men. But this bar offers more than just a solid Old Fashioned and leather booths. Around 9pm, a DJ starts spinning a range of house, cumbia, and old-school funk music and by 10pm, the bar transforms into one big dance floor. The disco ball near the back adds a glamorous touch, and the big backyard is perfect to cool off after a long night of dancing.
District Wine is a downtown wine bar that looks fancy, but is really just a laid-back spot with a great patio for summertime wine drinking. Most people sit under the string lights and murmur things about “bold tannins” and “hints of leather.” But you could also bring a group of friends on your birthday or a date who you want to impress with your knowledge of growing regions. They usually stop pouring wine around 9pm, but on warm nights, locals usually hang out and chat for hours after that.
A direct descendant of the infamous beachside drinking hole in Santa Monica, The Bungalow Kitchen Belmont Shore is where to head for a civilized day-drinking situation in Long Beach. It’s tucked in the back corner of an outdoor shopping mall and has several dining areas lined with chic lounge chairs, velvet booths, and fuzzy pillows. You’re going to want to sit out on the patio, which overlooks the scenic Marina filled with boats. Whether you come for a boozy brunch or a fun dinner, you’ll probably need to book a reservation ahead of time.
Mineshaft is one of the oldest gay bars in Long Beach, and it’s still a central mingling spot for the neighborhood. On weeknights, you might find some locals hanging out around the pool table, chugging beers and snacking on mozzarella sticks. But on weekends, The Mineshaft feels a bit like a buzzy nightclub—the DJ plays classic Top 40 hits, the room gets packed, and most people end up dancing with a stranger. If you’re looking for new connections, there’s a good chance you’ll make friends here—just remember to bring cash.
There are so many great craft breweries in Long Beach, it can be hard to pin down a favorite. But in terms of all-around appeal, Ambitious Ales in Bixby Knolls always lands at the top of our list. The taproom is spacious enough to project a ballgame on the wall without feeling like you’re drinking inside an airplane hanger, plus they’ve got two shaded, dog-friendly patios that are ideal for warm nights. The always-changing beer list is fantastic whether you’re into IPAs, sours, or stouts, and you can pick up some cans to-go, too. And most importantly, a beer here means you’ll have easy access to Thunderbolt Pizza next door, an excellent pie shop that will happily delivery warm garlic knots or hot wings right to your table.
Not every secret bar is actually a secret—just because you have to walk down a flight of stairs to get a drink, it doesn’t mean you’re in a “speakeasy.” But Bar Tiki Tiki is the rare secret bar that’s actually hard to find. The only way you can get in is by pushing on a specific part of a blank wall in downtown cocktail bar Rosemallows (ask the bartender if you can’t find it). Inside, you’ll find a tiny, smoke-filled room serving excellent tiki drinks like the Frozen Bird, with rum, Campari, and coconut cream. It’s a great place for a first date when you’re trying to show off, or if you’re looking for a spot to celebrate something over deadly-strong rum cocktails.
This lesbian-leaning queer bar is one of the many LGBTQ-friendly spots on East Broadway that have served as community pillars for decades. Divey with a bit of flare, Sweetwater Saloon has a small horseshoe bar surrounded by pool tables, big leather booths, and occasional drag performances. The main draw at this cash-only neighborhood institution is its close-knit feel—the bartender cracks jokes with regulars and strangers strike up conversation at the bar. So if you’re looking for a queer bar and second home that’s accepting of any and everyone, make this your first stop.
Joe Jost’s has been in operation since 1924 and is a Long Beach institution. This legendary dive bar on a random stretch of the Eastside is not where you go for a late night of cocktails and dancing. It’s where you go on Sunday afternoon to drink giant steins of beer with a room full of local pirates, play some billiards, and eat pickled eggs and pretzels in the corner. It’s bizarre and wonderful and a place no one should miss.
Trends come and go, but this bar in North Long Beach is faithful to its country theme. Extremely on brand for its name, Cowboy Country is a real saloon where people wearing big hats come to line dance and show off their new boots. There’s a mechanical bull to ride if you’re brave enough, live folk bands who perform on stage, and some decent bar food like burgers and hot dogs. Mainly, you should come here to boot scoot boogie until 2am in a room full of friendly cowboys.
The sours-only version of Beachwood Brewing, the Blendery takes the lambic base used for Beachwood’s beers and makes all kinds of crazy brews from it. They age each of them in oak barrels with aromatics like muscat grapes, guavas, and strawberries with Herbes de Provence. They rarely have the same options more than once a year, so you can go back often and never see the same list. If you love sour beers, then this is one of the best places to drink them in LA County.
The Exhibition Room is a speakeasy inside Roxanne’s cocktail bar in the Cal Heights neighborhood of Long Beach. They have a strict dress code and require reservations, and there’s a tiny phone booth you have to squeeze through to get into the place. Also, you need a password that you’ll receive via text. If it sounds like a complete production, it is. But the good news is that it’s worth it. Once you’re inside, expect live brass bands, burlesque shows, and incredibly well-made cocktails that aren’t too expensive. If you’re looking to impress whoever you’re drinking with, you can’t do much better than The Exhibition Room.
Part-dance party and part-karaoke bar, The Stache gets rowdy on weekends. This mustache-themed spot doesn’t have a designated dance floor per se, but show up after midnight on a Saturday, and people will have created one between the tables. If that sounds like a lot for you, stop by midweek, and you’ll find a more relaxed crowd there to play some board games, watch the Dodgers, and drink Moscow mules with house-made ginger beer. The same team also runs the attached drunchies-friendly restaurant Sideburns, so you’ll never be too far from a bacon cheeseburger, Chicago-style hot dog, or a platter of gooey poutine.
Downtown Long Beach’s Portuguese Bend Distillery is a full-blown restaurant, but the best reason to come here is for the house-made gin and vodka. They make good cocktails with them—our favorite is the Moonlighter, with their vodka, falernum, and ancho chili—but if you really want something that showcases their gin, order Smoke Bay in a martini. It’s a classic London-style dry gin, and it’s great. No matter what, drink them out on the patio that looks onto 3rd St. And if you get hungry, get the pastrami chili cheese fries to snack on.
Beachwood Brewing is a full-scale barbecue restaurant, but while their food menu is totally fine, everybody’s really here for the beer. They’ve been brewing some of the best crafts in California for a while, and their location along downtown’s Promenade is an ideal spot to sit and unwind. If you’re an IPA fan, get their signature Amalgamator, and if you’re not, you’ll find plenty of other things to drink. Also, like we said, Beachwood Blendery is right across the street, and specializes in sour beers.
This tiny wine bar next door to the Long Beach Art Theatre is a good place to start a night out. Walk in, sit at the bar, and tell the person behind the counter what kind of wine you’re in the mood for. They’ll keep pouring until you find the one you’re looking for—and will keep going even if you nailed it on the first try. After you’ve picked your wine, sit on the sidewalk patio, and repeat. Actually, you might just end up spending your whole night here instead.