“Good Karma, Great Vibe”

Los Angeles Times

A decade ago, there was no greater Hollywood dive than the Ski Room, the gritty bar at the corner of Sunset and Bronson. You could shoot a game of billiards at its lumpy pool table, knock back a shot of watered-down liquor and drop a quarter in its well-worn jukebox to hear Neil Diamond wail, “I am, I cried, I am, said I ….” Its cast of characters was straight out of ”Barfly,” and the place was so nappy that if you excavated it, you’d probably find Jimmy Hoffa’s body. 

Fast forward to 2004. The once-seedy spot is now a lovely new venue called the Bar — a simple, elegant lounge attracting a crowd of fresh-faced club kids. ”Our plan was to create an intimate, very cool bar for people to go any day of the week,” says Laurie Mulstay, a Bar co- owner, who met her partners while they were all working at Avalon. “We wanted a place with a New York vibe but without the ropes and the trendiness.” But it almost didn’t happen. To score the location, Mulstay and her partner, Ron Marino, had to jump through some hoops — including getting their karma checked by a fortune teller from Thailand.  The first order of business was tearing down its crusty low ceiling, adding another 12 feet in height. The result is a classic style lounge. Only a “Cocktails” sign outside lets you know you’re in the right place. Upon entering, you’ll find a row of seats to your left and multiple booths to your right. A long bar fills out the room, which is cooled by multiple ceiling fans. The warm vibe is enhanced by deep burgundy vintage wallpaper and sconces illuminating the room with amber hues. 

“It’s one of the coolest places I’ve come across in a long time,” says Kathy Jeung, a makeup artist who DJs at the Bar. “It’s just instantly comfortable. It has a great ambience without being pretentious. And on the nights I’m working, I’m inspired by the requests because the people who go there have a great musical history. I spin everything from glam rock to trailer-park rock to punk rock and I get great inspiration from the crowd.” 

Although such stars as Heath Ledger, Kirsten Dunst, Spike Jonze and Gwen Stefani have popped into the Bar, it’s more a spot for people who want to escape the celebrity glare rather than those who want to be seen on the scene. 

– Heidi Siegmund Cuda 

Special to The Times 

Sept. 9, 2004 

Cross street: Bronson

The Bar 

5851 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 

323-468-9154 

Hours: Nightly, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.