Or Bar in WeHo shocks some with $24 cocktails

Or Bar Gay Bar West Hollywood

Or Bar on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood had its grand opening Thursday. Some customers were shocked by the $24 cocktails. Photo: Kaitlyn Lavo/Q Voice News.

Thought gas prices in Los Angeles were bad? “Hold my beer,” says a new West Hollywood gay bar.

Or Bar, which celebrated its grand opening Thursday, debuted a chic renovation of a historic queer space, complete with a stylish chandelier and jaw-dropping prices on its cocktail menu.

Prices on the cocktail list ranged from $20 to $24, a record high for a WeHo (and, perhaps, American) gay bar. Customers weren’t paying for a copy editor. Items included several typos, such as Belvedere in a $22 bloody Mary as well as a Kettle One botanical flavor in the $24 George’s Devil Juice, which is mixed with lime juice and grapefruit soda.

Peckish? Cashews are also on the Snacks section: $9.

The steep pricing was particularly painful for regulars of Gold Coast, which after nearly 40 years shuttered in September 2020 in the midst of COVID lockdown.

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For decades, Gold Coast had served as a watering hole for marginalized people who were drawn to its affordability and community. And this era of inflation is adding salt on the rim for LGBTQ+ consumers, particularly queer people of color, who are far more likely to live “paycheck to paycheck” than the general public, according to a May 2022 study.

“Gold Coast was my home for so many years it kind of breaks my heart to see this and know (that) so many of the regulars who called that bar home will be iced out financially,” says Amanda Kruger, a one-time regular. “One of my dear friends and pool league mates, who is no longer with us, spent every day at that bar but also lived in subsidized low-income housing. He’d never be able to enjoy the community in the same way now.”

Or means “gold” in French, a nod to the former venue that also signals a tony new creative direction.

Of course, the ever-gentrifying West Hollywood has many gay bars with expensive drinks — though The Abbey’s cocktail list caps at $19, with comparable prices at new Santa Monica Boulevard clubs like Heart WeHo and Stache. The number of affordable queer spaces has dwindled in recent years, however, with Trunks, Mother Lode, and Bayou being the last of the dives. 

Or Bar has three owners, including Rob Novinger, known for acquiring and remodeling the iconic gay porn store Circus of Books; the venue is visible from Or’s windows. Novinger’s partners are Stephanie Schestag, a former TV host and founder of L.A.’s Fire Hot Yoga studio, as well as stylist and former “Fashion Police” co-host George Kotsiopoulos.

“My friends and I are opening an LBGTQ bar in West Hollywood!!!,” Kotsiopoulos wrote on Instagram in 2021 upon the announcement of the opening. “We are super excited to create a cool, upscale space with back-to-basic drinks, GREAT music, and chic peeps in this iconic location.”

This article originally appeared on Out.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Pride Media.

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Daniel Reynolds

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