She glanced at her watch. “Better do your wondering at the Union Station. You haven’t much time.” She stood up. I helped her on with her white raincoat and opened the door.
“You came in your own car?”
“Yes.” She went halfway out and turned. “There’s one thing I like about you. You don’t paw. And you have nice manners—in a way.”
“It’s a rotten technique—to paw.”
“And there’s one thing I don’t like about you. Guess what it is.”
“Sorry. No idea—except that some people hate me for being alive.”
—Playback, the last full novel by Raymond Chandler, starring detective Philip Marlowe
The “Last of the Great Railway Stations,” Los Angeles’s Union Station is a noir icon. And it has cocktails.
The Traxx Bar opened about twelve years ago, the same time as the white-tablecloth restaurant of same name on the other side of the entryway. The two have a symbiotic relationship, sharing hours, phone, and providing the other with edibles or beverages.
Nestled in the southwest corner of the majestic structure designed by the Parkinsons, the same father-and-son architecture firm that designed City Hall and one of USC’s master plans, Traxx is the last chance to grab a drink before meeting Los Angeles. Rail riders fleeing L.A. in a rush will be twenty paces past the bar by the time they’ve paid the cab, readjusted bags, and checked the watch.
But if you’re stuck in La La Land, voluntarily or otherwise, treat yourself to the following: one afternoon, walk amongst the patio gardens of Union Station, listen to the rumble of departing trains, and then order a classic cocktail from the bar. Although I could have ordered a Traxx martini with two parts Hendrick’s gin, a rinse of dry vermouth around the glass, and a float of Dubonnet Rouge, I had a Manhattan. With drink in hand, recline in one of the Streamline Moderne chairs pointed towards the wall that opens to the large, historic waiting room—you can miss the game on TV—and watch the comings and goings. Or, if alone as I was, sit at the bar in a trench coat (whether it’s raining or not) and do the same. From that vantage, watch your brethren of all incomes, ethnicities, and attitudes skirt, swagger, and slouch in and out of our megalopolis.
When you hear the boarding announcement for the day’s last departure, around 9:15pm (Traxx’s clock runs 15 minutes fast, more of a safety feature than a flaw), and the bar blows the whistle to punch the final tickets before closing, resist the temptation to leap up and run to the platform, especially if you haven’t paid your tab. Besides, Traxx validates parking for three free hours, a gift no Angeleno should pass up.
Note that many pictures and shows have shot and still shoot in the station, so Traxx could be dormant on any given evening. If so, don’t get angry, be glad someone’s got a job, at least for the day.
800 N. Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Open 11:30am to about 9, 9:30pm six days a week; ’til 8pm on Sundays
For more info: Traxx restaurant
Click here to access an index of all LA Cocktails Examiner articles on one page.
UPCOMING ARTICLES: More winter cocktail recipes, review of the M Bar, the Blade Runner bar crawl, Sauza Tres Generaciones tequila recipes and reviews, and much more.
Please subscribe to my column by clicking on the SUBSCRIBE link at the top of the page to get my latest cocktails recipes, cocktail bar reviews, and other random cocktail knowledge.