Drinking on the Inside

Café Stella's boozy hideaway

The transition was impressively swift.

One day, the corner of Sunset and Sanborn was dominated by a set of windows looking into a clothing store. Days later, the store was gone, the windows blocked by a tall stucco wall.

The barrier was the doing of Café Stella owner Gareth Kantner, who subsumed the retail space in order to add a bar, with a full liquor license, to his hip, cozy corner.

The newly opened bar marks the arrival of contemporary cocktail culture to the neighborhood. The bar Americain styling of the bartenders, dressed in white jackets that borrow from blazers and pharmacist getups, echoes the classic-leaning drink list, where you'll find Manhattans, Martinis and the like ($14 to $16). Iowa's Templeton Rye anchors that Manhattan, which also features darkly tannic Carpano Antica. The Pisco Sour-like Le Perou (pictured), a combination of Encanto single-vineyard pisco, lime and cold-pressed pineapple juice all shaken into a thick froth, is a delightful, delicate revision.

Sitting on the beautiful walled patio does feel like hiding in plain sight, but the barrier seems like an apology for the neighborhood it blocks out.

We, however, are unapologetically glad to have Bar Stella in Silver Lake.

Bar Stella, 3932 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; 323-666-0265 or cafestella.com