Saints & Sinners: Hotter Than Hell In Culver City

I’m a big fan of the Bigfoot Lodge. After all, I love National Forests. I love that cheesy woodsy decor. And I REALLY love the Girl Scout martinis, because I was one (a Girl Scout, not a martini) for many, many years. So when I heard that Bigfoot creator Bobby Green was opening a bar on my side of town, one that wouldn’t require me to schlep to Atwater Village, I clapped my hands in glee.

Last night, I rounded up a crew of fellow Westsiders and went off to check out Saints and Sinners. Many of my friends have said they were planning to check it out – and just hadn’t yet. Everyone’s either heard of it, or been told about it, or driven past it by now. But it’s still a Westside bar, so, to be on the safe side, we went early, thinking we could still make $5 early-entrance cover at Bar Sinister if S&S wasn’t any fun. And it turned out, there wasn’t a backup plan needed. S&S had a good enough vibe that I was happy to stay for most of the night.

When we arrived at the bar at quarter after nine, on a Saturday, it was already seemingly full. This shouldn’t surprise me – a lot of the Venice/Abbot Kinney/Main St. establishments fill up as quickly. But this was Culver City, a bar in an area without a half-dozen other bars and eateries in walking distance. Whatever crowd was here, was just here for this bar, and not for an entire drinking zone like the A-K strip. I put my foot down about valet parking in West L.A., but if it had been raining harder, and if it had been a little later, I might have had to relent. By just after ten, a line had started to form, and there wasn’t parking anywhere in the West L.A. streets surrounding the bar. I always think of that part of town as having ample parking, day or night, but I guess bringing in a hundred people will take up those spaces quickly.

Inside, it was wall-to-wall, with people standing wherever they could. My group was by the bar, leaning against the wall opposite the 70s gold-tinted, marble-veined mirroring. We were able to examine the decor, angel statues with different accessories to indicate angels and fallen angels, but we were subject to much pushing and bumping as people went by. But despite the crowds, we liked it there. The music was good, and I remember hearing both a Prodigy track and New Order’s “True Faith” within a few minutes. The drinks were tasty, and they serve something unique, which I believe was a sort of Fallen Angel drink: a shot of 151 and cinnamon schnapps set on fire, and then dropped into a half-glass of Monster energy drink. I had a smoky apple martini, made with Scotch instead of vodka. Martinis went for $9; regular mixed drinks (like the jack and cokes a friend was drinking) went for $6. Which is standard Westside pricing, a welcome change after a Friday in Hollywood.

The only problem was that the bar got more and more crowded, until we were being shoved in a chain reaction when people walked by. Much of the main seating area is taken up by a big fake fireplace, with white quartz rocks and gas flames. There is a back room, which was open but only half-full because people didn’t know if they could go back there or not. It’s not a big space to begin with, and it’s the hottest thing in Culver City/W.L.A. right now, and the two factors combined meant that long before midnight, I needed breathing room.

I’d like to go back on a Thursday night, or again on a Saturday when we leave after one round. It’s a neat place. The bartenders were friendly, and took great enjoyment on setting those shots on fire. The decor was very 70s, all done in the sort of brass veneers and thin layers of tint that, in a real 70s bar, would start to flake and tarnish around the edges in less than a year. Bobby Green says that he thinks it’s like the 70s, like “the cocaine era before it got ugly” (which I didn’t think was an actual time, especially after reading any Hunter S. Thompson). I’d agree with that. The only thing he needs in there is more mirrored tabletops to really bring the image home.

10 thoughts on “Saints & Sinners: Hotter Than Hell In Culver City”

  1. oh c’mon! all the cool kids live in atwater village! you don’t wanna come hang out with them?

    (okay, actually not all the cool kids, just me.)

  2. White quartz rocks in the fireplaces? Those are marbles, kiddo. We’ve drank there three times in recent weeks and not seen anyone over 25 or without a visible tattoo. Yawn.

  3. I LOVE S&S. Was there last night and it was packed with people celebrating the extra day off singing along to all the ’80s songs the dj was playing. But the staff is really great and very friendly and the crowd is a nice eclectic mix. I’m definitely going to be a regular…just as soon as I get over this hangover.

  4. AARGH! It’s not a martini if it has SCOTCH in it!!!

    I’m guess I’m on the losing end of my stubborn quest (along with my buddies) to not sully the great name of Martini. In our world, there’s no such thing as an “apple martini.”

    In a bar, one of us once asked for “A MARTINI” and the bartender responded “Do you want Stoli or Absolut!” NO!! I WANT A GODDAMN MARTINI! I had wanted a Vodka Martini I’da asked for one, you cretin.

    At this point the word “Martini” has become synonymous with “cocktail,” which also originally meant a specific drink. So, I guess history has passed us by. But we’re hanging on by our fingernails, dammit!

  5. I have to say, I went to Saints and Sinners the week after it opened and was not impressed. First, with the theme like that they could have really had an awesome decor but, instead, it’s simply retro and falls a bit short. And I don’t want to hear about any of their special devilish drinks with rum in them because you know what, I’m betting Satan drinks Whiskey or Martinis, not some foo-foo beverage. Ok, maybe a White Russian…but that’s it.

  6. Yeah, but I think we all have to keep in perspective – it’s still West L.A. I wasn’t overly impressed with the decor either, because other than the angels, it could have been a basement rec room somewhere in Inland Empire, rather than the Hottest Bar On The Westside. But the music that night was fine, and the servers were friendly, and THEY SET DRINKS ON FIRE, which I consider important, even if they are foo foo. In my lexicon, Satan drinks something more serious, too, but he also doesn’t live in Pomona in the 1970s.

    I, too, was hoping that with a name like that, it would be more on the dark and dire side of the spectrum, but hey, we take what we can get out here in West L.A.. And if the bar hadn’t been so crowded, I’d consider it as a regular alternative to the four bar zones I always go to in Venice (Whaler/Hinanaos/Baja Cantina on the MDR border, Canal Club/James Beach by my house, Brig/Other Room on the A-K strip, O’Brien/Finns/Ricks on Main Street, and a couple other random ones here and there in the area)

    As for everyone being 25 with tattoos – um – I’m 27, and I think my tattoo was only partly visible. One of them, anyways. And as for the martini thing…yes, I agree, it is a travesty that any mixed drink in a martini glass is now a martini. Unfortunately, those drinks are usually quite palatable, and I’m willing to concede the term for that reason.

  7. We’ve drank there three times in recent weeks and not seen anyone over 25 or without a visible tattoo. Yawn.

    You were at a different place than me then. I thought the crowd was a bunch of square, older west side industry people.

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