BG Lounge, tucked above sister restaurant Nerano, first opened its doors in January 2020, just weeks before the pandemic swept across the nation.
But the second-story lounge is finally back and ready to make a triumphant return. Starting Feb. 18, BG Lounge will be open Friday and Saturday nights for dinner, cocktails and international wines. Service is set to expand in the future.
As opposed to Nerano’s celebration of flavors from its namesake fishing village on the Amalfi Coast, BG Lounge is an ode to the Italian-American, New York-style restaurants that sprung up across the country in the mid-century.
The reintroduction of BG Lounge coincides with the new appointment of head bartender James Estes. Born in London, the award-winning mixologist has managed beverage programs at top private-member clubs, luxury hotels and fine dining establishments around the world, including La Perla Bar in his hometown.
“It’s the joy of mixing drinks, the fabled history of cocktail lore, and an elevated sense of ‘fine drinking’ that I am hoping to share and impart to our many guests,” Estes said.
Estes’ cocktail creations, collectively called “All Roads Lead Back to L.A.,” are a reflection of his last 11 years spent bartending the globe. Highlights include The K.L. Sour (a playful twist on the New York Sour, representing Kuala Lumpur); The Ministry of Love (an ode to London and Negroni lovers) and The Starlight Espresso Martini (from Dublin).
Also head of Nerano, executive chef Michele Lisi will offer diners the opportunity to experience specials and menu items reminiscent of what his mother and grandmother would prepare in his native Puglia. Popular options include spaghetti and wagyu meatballs, chicken parmigiana and calamari fritti, among others.
Initially a space reserved for intimate private events, BG Lounge effuses a speakeasy feel as guests follow the bright-red “Cocktails” sign, climb the covered staircase alongside Nerano’s outdoor dining area, push through heavy curtains and arrive into the discreet restaurant.
Named for owners Andy and Carlo Brandon-Gordon, BG Lounge coalesces old-school Italian tradition with a contemporary twist. Pops of Ferrari-red enliven the painted-black brick walls, which are further embellished with original art, including a three-word sign that serves as a matra and reminder for all: “Empathy for Everyone.”
BG Lounge is located at 9960 S Santa Monica Blvd 90212.