Gold Line is a dark, intimate cocktail bar with an enormous record collection. Offering craft concoctions, and paying homage to vintage record shops and Japanese vinyl bars, this Highland park haunt has emerged as the talk of the town.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Ryan Kirk Contributing writer
When you go by the moniker Peanut Butter Wolf and you decide it’s time to open a Hi-Fi vinyl bar that will feature some of the best vices in Los Angeles, let the city in on a sample of your record collection (over 7,500 of your most prized possessions), have a Hollywood set designer capture the aesthetic, and do it all in the same building as your office… we believe you because you go by the name Peanut Butter Wolf. And anybody that goes by a name that makes us think of jelly’s best friend and the dude who blew down the house of the three little pigs, well, we think you can do anything you damn well please. After all, this is LA, where on Hollywood Boulevard crazier things happen between every gold star, on the infamous fame-crazed sidewalk.
Aesthetics are everything, and this vinyl playing, cocktail landmine is dripping in a gold hue under dim pendant lights that bounce between the epic wall of music and its opposing handsome red brick barrier.
Caught between Chinatown and Pasadena, the Gold Line metro rail roars through LA’s renovated but luckily not refined hood, Highland Park. Set in a sea full of record shops, barbers, restaurants, and watering holes, the new Hi-Fi vinyl bar finds its name from the train that muscles through its community. The City of Angels, it’s better known for flying guardians with halos, than public transportation (you’ve all heard of the notorious 405). So, in a town not known for a rail system, in a community that’s on the rise, and a Hi-Fi cocktail concept that is new to the United States, why not throw a little gold on the ground and just see what PANS out.
To fully understand the concept, board a Japanese airline, sit in a tight seat for a day, and land in Tokyo. Not only known for denim, whiskey, and sushi, the Japanese are now chop-stick feeding us a new concept that is more addictive than soy sauce and cooler than a Batman-inspired Samurai warrior. It started with the revival of Jazz Kissa, where the owner of a house would serve drinks and play his vinyl collection for friends. Not uncommon to the US, except, we can’t get through one spin of a record without a friend asking for the aux cord—we all know him, can’t get rid of him. What started with playing in-house tunes, turned into creating a small joint, lined with the owner’s personal collection of records, and a healthy serving of Suntory Highballs.
With a ton of success as a DJ and founder of Stones Throw Records, Peanut Butter Wolf teamed up with two partners to bring us the American version of the Japanese hit, and who better than a man whose passion is to play good music. The bar is on the ground floor of the record labels office and lined with over 7,500 albums from Wolf’s personal collection. This isn’t one of those bars with a bunch of fake books for decorations, these are real deal phonograph records played over a vintage top-flight hi-fi sound system.
Other partners include bar and restaurant guru Tyler Bell and Jason McGuire, GM of Stones Throw Records, all who have played an intricate part in the bar that has quickly jumped to a short list of LA’s finest. Bell and his wife, Sarah Philpott, a Hollywood set designer, created the bar’s unique look. Aesthetics are everything, and this vinyl playing, cocktail landmine is dripping in a gold hue under dim pendant lights that bounce between the epic wall of music and its opposing handsome red brick barrier. They captured this hideaway’s essence, mixing a Japanese and Danish style with the blend of a retro recording studio, all while living up to Highland Park’s historic craftsman architecture.
Gold Line has leveled up with quality equipment singing jazz and rock until the party picks up, as does the music. Behind the Thorens turntable, rotating DJs take the helm, using no outside records or computers of any kind, let the fun begin as they take their pick and drop the needle.
Is this going to be the new bar fad taking over the US, much like the Tiki scene has? Sure, hope so. A trailblazer on the west coast lining up gold for a promising future. Dark with intimacy, vivid in vices, and High in Fidelity. Get lost on the gold line, we’ll see you on the other side.
The options are endless when trekking down Figueroa Street in Highland Park. Come ready to spend an evening there, followed by an apartment search for your new place to call home
Kevin Carney of Mohawk General Store kitted out the space with vintage gear including a Thorens turntable, McIntosh Amps and Altec Lansing speakers
The front of the bar can get a little crowded, make your way to the back, lit up by a disco ball
A Rock-Ola 442 jukebox filled with 7” records plays nightly at opening