Bar Delux in Hollywood

Bar Delux -- a newcomer to Hollywood's sin-soaked Cahuenga Corridor -- is the kind of place Howard Roark from Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" might have hung out, if Roark were a 21-year-old girl from Fresno and partial to vodka and Red Bull.

Designed by Spacecraft's Kristofer Keith, Delux is an Art Deco jewel box of a watering hole.

There's a 50-foot stained glass mural depicting the march of industrial achievement -- a blimp, smokestacks and the like -- behind the mahogany bar, emerald-green velvet drapes to match, a ponderous fireplace and sparkling chandeliers.

There is also a heart-stopping lipstick-red ladies lounge upstairs. If Rand is right that "man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress," it is also the motor for humanity's march through Bar Delux's doors.

After all, it takes an id of steel to wait behind the velvet rope in your finest midlevel designer tank top while bouncers usher in bubbly twins from Boulder, Colo. In Hollywood these days, there are almost too many blossoming (and frequently wilting) nightclub options, and there simply aren't enough indigenous "beautiful people" to keep them open. Translation: There are only so many places that the cast of "The Hills" can be spotted in one night.

For freshly minted bars like Delux, that means a scaling back of hours (right now the bar is open only Thursday through Saturday nights) and the acceptance of a fair amount of tourists. On a recent Friday night the bar had quite a few: Excitable young women with immaculate hair in dark blue skinny jeans being rubbed up against by cologne-challenged gentlemen in shiny Ben Sherman's.

"We're from Boston, and you don't find this . . . in Boston!" said a wide-eyed paralegal named Erin Niedbala who was dancing with a pack of wriggling girls. "We love the atmosphere, and the music, and the hot bartenders," said her friend.

Nearby, 21-year-old Jenna Carlock and her friend Branigan Buecheler, from Fresno and Bakersfield, agreed with the assessment, adding "that fireplace is pretty sweet."

The hot bartender in question, one Ryan Burnham, is used to the overeager party crowd but insists that the bar is destined for a greater refinement. "The decor is a throwback to old Hollywood glamour. It has a Sinatraesque feeling, and Sinatra is synonymous with cool," says Burnham.

As if that weren't enough, Bar Delux stocks nearly 160 types of Scotch and whiskey from around the world. Burnham knows his amber-colored liquors and welcomes the day when vodka and Red Bull is no longer the "drink of choice."

As Burnham extolled the virtues of the menu, which was created by Foundry chef Eric Greenspan, a sedate young couple sat down at the bar, apparently having parted the writhing crowd with the sheer force of their glistening coolness. When Burnham took their order the man ordered a Scotch, neat. Now that's a start.

Bar Delux Where: 1624 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood When: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The Alliance handles the door on Thursdays, so that's a tough night to gain entrance. Price: Cocktails start at $12 Contact: (323) 461-6800

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