In Sheep’s Clothing is a modern take on kissa bar culture that was popular in the 1940’s, and serves up a full spectrum of beverages from the boozy to the electrifying in an effortlessly zen, musically modified atmosphere.
OUR ARTICLEBY: Dakota Nate Contributing writer
During WWll, lounges called kissatens blended into Japanese jazz culture. These musical sanctuaries served often as tea rooms where you could listen to the newest releases from the United States on vinyl in a time where you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. Often in a small and intimate group setting, this served as a peaceful escape from an often stressful and uncertain day to day life. As these sensory unicorns have dwindled from existence over time, kissa bar culture may be easier to access than you think — through an unmarked door within a pizzeria in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.
Immediately, In Sheep’s Clothing tickles the senses in a way that you wouldn’t expect. In traditional kissa bar fashion, music is the center of worship in this hidden refuge.
At the corner of Alameda Street and East 4th Place rests a colorful brick building that you literally can’t miss while driving or strolling around the Arts District. Splashed with lively colors of the rainbow, catching the eyes of passersby and unassuming patrons alike, what you have here is a sort of experiential inception — in typical fashion of any hidden drinkery. Just stroll on through Lupetti Pizzeria, owned in part by Bryan Ling, co–owner of No Name Bar in the Fairfax District with pizza-pie expert Adam Tomei, (yes, Marisa Tomei’s brother) overseeing the divine creation of classic, thin crust, NYC-style pies served by the slice or as the whole damn pie. Which, whether you indulge in a slice or two or walk straight to the entrance, it’ll have been worth any sort of wait or journey to get to In Sheep’s Clothing.
Immediately, In Sheep’s Clothing tickles the senses in a way that you wouldn’t expect. In traditional kissa bar fashion, music is the center of worship in this hidden refuge. With music supervisor Zach Cowie at the helm of curating the playlist, who happens to be a badass composer and music consultant and is responsible for the scoring of hit shows such as Forever and Master of None. This guy’s job is basically to make sure you feel all the feels. Remember the lonely uber ride Aziz took in the middle of season two while Soft Cell’s Say Hello, Wave Goodbye played in a single shot for a haunting 2 minutes and 45 seconds? Yeah, he did that.
Whereas your sense of hearing is tapped into tremendously once you belly up to the bar, your taste buds begin to come into play. In the daytime, In Sheep’s Clothing serves mainly as a traditional tea room, where a selection of coffee drinks, fresh juices, sodas, and of course, a few afternoon appropriate cocktails, are served. I.e. their Kombucha Negroni. Evening cocktails consist of bangers such as Silk and Insight, made with Nikka Vodka, Cynar, cassis, Mandarine Napoleon, and tonic for a refreshing and effervescent finish. Japanese influence bleeds into every part of the menu, including the spirit list which features Japanese whiskies, beers, and oh so much more. If you’re trying to follow up your Ceremonial Matcha Tea with a neat pour of Yoichi Single Malt, there’s really no other place to do it — not in Los Angeles County, at least.
With jazz records stacked well above eye level splashing the back bar, the motto, “To hear more, say less.” rings in an ever-present vibe of concentrated relaxation. The kind of evening-out your brain craves. Bring a date, ride solo, do you — but make sure you find your way into the loving arms of In Sheep’s Clothing the next time you need to tune out the rest of the world.
The music on vinyl bounces off the cork floors and walls, providing an unmatched ambiance
Most nights the bartenders have their hands full, spinnin’ records and cocktails
Music just loud enough to drown out distractions, but not intimate conversations
The smells from the pizza oven on your walk in… you’ll be ordering a slice