Koreatown is without a doubt one of the most fascinating and fast-changing neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It’s a place where the delicious smells of all-you-can-eat KBBQ waif past exclusive and hidden speakeasies. Where fancy cocktail bars sit right next to (and sometimes even within) hard-partying karaoke joints. It’s old and new, traditional and modern, foreign and familiar. With all of this in mind, maybe it should come as no surprise that it now houses an idea so crazy it just might work- the city’s first champagne vending machine!
Mama Lion, the steward of this incredible innovation in imbibing, is a bar, lounge and social club featuring live entertainment and California dining that sits near the Wilshire / Western red line stop. The place itself is gorgeous, with an elegant, golden bar in the middle that provides 360-degree service- so no matter how you approach it, you won’t leave disappointed. Comfortable lounge couches and high-top tables are placed throughout, and a large open section on one end must be perfect for dancing or entertainment. In a nod to current architectural trends, the dark ceiling has subtle exposed sections, which provide a nice contrast to the flashiness below. And a fun, glowing blue neon sign in one corner provides a cautionary statement to revilers- “shh…don’t tell mama”. Finally, the food offerings are delicious for a mostly drinking establishment, with crisp chicken sliders, assorted dips, and many other lounge snacks.
But of course, the real star of the show is the aforementioned drink dispensary. The offering is from Moët & Chandon, and while this is the first available in DTLA, the concept initially landed in the U.S. at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Las Vegas and has appeared at some of Hollywood and the fashion world’s most high-profile celebrations including the Golden Globe awards, amfAR Gala and Harper’s Bazaar Icons during NYFW.
The machine itself is subtle, letting the 320 bright mini bottles of champagne speak on their own and beckon over curious patrons. Rows alternate between rosé and brut, and after inserting a special Moët coin (which can be purchased from the bar for $20) and making a selection, a mechanical hand grabs the bottle and gently drops it into an opening near the bottom. After popping off the cork, one plugs the opening with a miniature plastic cone of sorts, which transforms the bottle into a modified champagne flute. After that, all that is left is to do is find an open sofa and enjoy the delicious dry and fizzy beverage. We’ve come a long way from being constrained to coin-stealing vending machines only offering sugary sodas- who knows, maybe next time you visit a K-Town watering hole, you’ll be able to win a cold beer or rich red wine from an old stuffed animal claw game!
601 S Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 7 PM to 2 AM.