Rum Club is the cocktail outpost of a former cocktail bar, Beaker & Flask, whose spacious environs quickly became much more of a restaurant (and WW's 2009 Restaurant of the Year). Beaker & Flask is no more, but Rum Club has proven resilient, in part by being a remarkably hospitable space to disparate groups: first-daters, out-of-towners, patio smokers and especially cocktail aficionados who prefer to avoid the inflated prices and vest-and-bow-tie fussiness of westside mixology shrines. As if to illustrate this versatility, one of the bar's walls is covered in fashionable deco-butterfly wallpaper, while the other is watched over by a giant carved bear whose quaintness is overruled by clumsily terrifying features. Outside, the former pawn shop's patio is guarded from six corners of busy thoroughfare by loose-slatted iron gates.
Within, the Rum Club is a cozy bartenders' haunt of curated cocktails, with a list that revives obscure classics such as the Preakness ($8)—bourbon bittered three ways, with no ingredient except its lemon slice under 20 proof—and a wealth of complex cocktails that redeem the Club's eponymous liquor from punch-bowl purgatory or faux-tiki hell. Sure, you can get a mind-bending daiquiri ($8) that experiments with absinthe in the manner of an old French intellectual, but instead you may find aged rums mixed with sherry, scotch and orange oil amid a list of well-balanced concoctions that rarely climb to two-digit pricing while still containing more than two fingers.
The bar's liquor shelf goes five deep and impossibly high; you could visit every day for a year and probably not exhaust it. As vision quests go, you could do worse. That is, if you could see straight when you were done.