Celebrating the holiday is about spending quality time with family and friends and having a drink or two perhaps. It is also about giving back to the community. The Santa Monica Pub Crawl is an annual event held in mid-December that encourages people in Los Angeles to do both. Everyone is encouraged to wear holiday attires such as Santa hats. By purchasing a $10 ticket online ($15 at the door), you acquire discounts as you bar hop through one of four designated routes (Main Street, Wilshire, Promenade, or Pier Routes), and your purchase goes towards the Westside Food Bank for the less fortunate.
This year, we at “Surviving LA on a Budget” decided to go on the Wilshire Route. The participating establishments on this route were SOUTH, Sonny McLean’s, The Charleston, O’Brien’s, V Lounge, JP’s Grill, and Renee’s Courtyard Cafe. To order or pick up tickets, we first had to travel to the starting point of the route, SOUTH. Those who showed up fifteen minutes before 5pm were able to obtain their tickets fairly quickly as well as a $2 taxi voucher to discourage drunk driving, but there was a huge line for those who showed up after 5pm. Ticket holders were able to order certain food and drinks from SOUTH at Happy Hour prices, including a $5 glass of sweet apple cider with a shot of Bacardi on the side as well as $3 Stellas, $3 spiked eggnogs, $5 grilled cheese, and $5 tater tots. As a sponsor of the Santa Monica Pub Crawl, Ted, the lovable talking teddy bear from the movie “Ted,” showed up at SOUTH to liven the party. Those who took photos with Ted also received a complimentary green scarf. After we finished our dinner at SOUTH, we set off to our next few destinations.
Unfortunately, our experiences at Sonny McLean’s, The Charleston, and O’Brien’s weren’t as enjoyable. We decided to skip both Sonny McLean’s and O’Brien’s due to the large crowd. The Charleston had enough tables and chairs to accommodate over 90 patrons. However, their management decided to force those who ordered drinks and not food to stand by the small bar in the front, despite the fact that most of their tables were empty. This caused an unnecessarily long line out front. As a participant of the Santa Monica Pub Crawl, the staff of The Charleston should have known that their crowd that night would consist mainly of bar hoppers and not diners. Fortunately, any disappointment we had at that time were soon forgotten when we visited V Lounge, our favorite establishment that night.
We ended up enjoying V Lounge so much that we stayed there for the rest of the evening instead of going to JP’s Grill and Renee’s Courtyard Cafe. With plenty of sofas, a spacious dance floor, and a romantic decor, V Lounge was a nice contrast to the other bars. We were able to beat the crowd because most people were still drinking in SOUTH, Sonny McLean’s, Charleston, and O’Brien’s. However, it didn’t take long before the rest knew this was the place to be as the establishment started filling up. In V Lounge I ordered their $4 Snowflake Shot, which was a rich, creamy jello shot with Smirnoff cake. They also had $5 Stellas, $6 Jager Bombs, and $8 Red Berry Martinis. By the end of the night, the floor was filled with a sea of Santa hats as people danced the night away.
Is Santa Monica Pub Crawl worth the $10-$15 fee? Yes because it is a donation that goes towards a good cause. However, those wishing to check out the Pub Crawl may want to go to the Main Street, Promenade, or Pier Routes instead since they’re closer to the heart of Santa Monica. If you want to find bars that open late, check out the Promenade Route because a lot of the bars on the Wilshire Route close at 10pm or earlier during the Pub Crawl. Regardless of which route you choose, you may want to skip the first couple of bars closest to the starting point in order to beat the crowd in the later bars. For photos of the Wilshire Route of the Santa Monica Pub Crawl, be sure to check out our Facebook page, and be sure to follow us on Twitter @SurvivingLA. Stay tune for our next post as we head to the Ice Kingdom in Queen Mary. Happy Holidays, Steven