Saddled between The Slipper Clutch and E Stretto, Bar Clacson offers the subtle sensibilities of a Western Mediterranean street cafe alongside some of the neighborhood’s best cocktails. It is located in Downtown Los Angeles’s Historic Core, only feet from Grand Central Market, making it easy to access for nearby Financial District workers and those visiting the storied marketplace. Outside of its hopping happy hour, however, the Pouring With Heart (formerly 213 Hospitality) establishment remains on the quiet side, something we very much appreciate.
A blue and white striped awning — the kind often associated with French and/or Italian cafes — hangs over the bar, brightening the space’s otherwise dark confines. Clacson is detail-oriented and almost maddeningly obsessed with turning its urban metro locale into its own piece of light-filled Mediterranean paradise, despite not having a single window of its own. A pétanque – basically French bocce ball – court lays comfortably along the wall opposite the bar, and a French flag is thrown over a brick wall extension.
The cocktail menu speaks to this fixation as well. Gin Cucumber Fixes are mixed next to Campari Coolers, making for delightfully bright options that are perfect for hot summer days. The bar’s finest liquid offering comes in the form of the Sbagliato, which means “mistake” in Italian. As the story goes, a busy bartender accidently grabbed a bottle of sparkling wine instead of gin while making a Negroni, resulting in this delicious creation. Rumor has it that the napkin the recipe was originally written out on is framed in the bar, though we are unable to confirm that story’s validity.
Those feeling peckish can order food from E Stretto, whose Italian leaning menu provides a variety of meats and cheeses along with plentiful pastas and heaping sandwiches. The finest of all is the Ill Papa (Mortadella, Capicola, Spanish Chorizo, Manchego, Tomato, Shredded Lettuce, Giardiniera, Red Wine Vinaigrette, Dijonaise), which rivals Santa Monica’s Bay Cities for best Italian sandwich in town. Those looking for something a bit more punkish, meanwhile, can simply slide through Clacson and into The Slipper Clutch, where things are decidedly more rock ‘n’ roll. But if you’re looking for good music, good vibes, and great cocktails, Bar Clacson has a lovely temperature.