There's really no bad time for a beachside cocktail--even June Gloom won't keep us away. But when you're in the mood for more view than sand in your shoes, here's where to go:
The scene at High, the Hotel Erwin's rooftop bar (pictured), isn't as colorful as the Venice boardwalk below, but it is swank, with cushioned banquettes and 360-degree views. Go for a glass of Champagne or a refreshing cocktail; we're partial to the Dogtown Peach, with Bulliet bourbon, peach nectar and ginger beer ($12). On Sundays, get an appetizer and unlimited mimosas and Bloody Marys during the "liquid brunch" ($30 per person).
Suite 700 at the Hotel Shangri-La isn't just for hotel guests anymore; anyone can now get in, any time of day or night. Inside it looks like a stateroom from an Art Deco yacht; outside you get sweeping views of the ocean, pier and downtown Santa Monica. Like the décor, the drinks are old-school: Try the smoky martini ($15), a combination of Laphroaig 10-year-old Scotch, vodka and Dolin dry vermouth.