You'd think the place would be better lighted. It was an electrical power plant after all. But bright lights are not how nightclubs work best. And The Edison works very well as a nightclub and also as a place where you can enjoy a cigar when you're out in downtown Los Angeles (DTLA).
One of the reasons to wish for more illumination—or a strong flashlight—is that The Edison is a stunning example of steampunk design with a bit of art deco and other schools sprinkled in. Think 1927 film Metropolis or even Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein and Martin Scorsese's 2011 Hugo. The nightclub opened in 2007 in the basement of the Higgins Building, inaugurated in 1910, which contained L.A.'s first privately owned power plant.
The room at the entrance on the ground floor is not fully enclosed. Water cascades down two glass walls. This is where cigars can be enjoyed with a beverage you fetch yourself from the bar downstairs. No table service here. The cigar room also attracts men and women in cocktail attire who pop in for a quick cigarette.
On a recent visit, a muggy night, we arrived at happy hour and sampled the most refreshing Mistress. This is a blend of vodka, lemon and pomegranate juices, topped off with Prosecco poured into a Champagne glass. Move on to the Dead Man's Hand if you're willing to be a little adventurous in pairing your cigar and cocktail. It's double-rye whiskey, brown sugar, sarsaparilla and whiskey barrel bitters sprinkled with orange zest. Warm and tangy.
The Edison has 15 beers on tap at multiple bars downstairs amid comfortable leather booths. Three large screens show silent black-and-white movies. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, there's live music. Later on the night we visited, aerialists were going to perform above the dance floor.
The food menu focuses mostly on interesting snacks, including Angel Eggs. These are deviled eggs topped with caviar. Shanghai Wings will keep you ordering that next drink with their ginger, chili and "exotic spices." Elegant bar food, along with a few bigger plates, done well. But The Edison, for cigar lovers, is not about the food.
Among the benefits offered by The Edison is its location. Across the alley is 2nd Street Cigars, which serves as The Edison's de facto humidor, open until midnight on Thursday and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. For private events at The Edison, a cigar roller can be hired from 2nd Street.
A Padrón Serie 1926 80 Years Natural fills the bill this particular night, paired simply with a Ron Zacapa 23-year-old on two rocks. We have been to dinner and the theater, then returned to The Edison at about 10:15. Things are barely getting going, but in another hour, there's a line, which can also be a source of entertainment.
If you have the chance to visit The Edison before it gets too crowded, make sure to pop into the Ember Parlor downstairs. It's a little cutout space that can accommodate 20 for a private event. Celebrities, including Tony Curtis, have signed the walls. The other attraction is a hole in the wall.
On the western side of the basement is a pipe that drips from the wall. The flood line on the wall can still be seen from the standing water that helped keep the building unoccupied from 1936 until The Edison opened. The building is situated above a natural underground spring (and between Main and Spring Streets in DTLA). When it rains heavily, the drip on the wall can become a torrent of water coming out of the pipe. It's easy to plug up, but it's an interesting artifact, especially in a time of drought. Fortunately, the flow of drinks Wednesday through Saturday is not dependent on rain.
A second Edison is planned for 2017 in Orlando, Florida, at Disney World. Cigar friendliness there is unclear at this time.
108 W 2nd St #101
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Valet parking available
$10 cover charge on Friday and Saturday
Live music on Wednesday and Thursday
Wednesday through Friday: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday: 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sunday through Tuesday: Closed