here’s something about wine and paint that just goes together. Actually, there really isn’t – not outside of Jill’s Paint in Atwater Village, anyway, and probably for good reasons. But owner Peggy McCloud seems to have gotten this tricky combination exactly right, melding a paint store with a wine bar, that, through December, will be stepping up tastings in honor of the holidays.
“Why not give it a little twist?” says the quick-moving, plain-dealing McCloud of her concept for the store. She’s decorated it to feel like a small-town, neighborhood fixture, selling brand-name paints as well as hard-to-find environmentally friendly and small-label ones. The “twist” comes most days around four o’clock, or whenever the fancy strikes the avid California wine collector, as that’s when she’ll open a bottle of cabernet or syrah to share with her customers. As out of place as that would seem in any other paint store, at Jill’s it’s the most natural thing in the world.
While she doesn’t offer wine to everyone who walks in the store (although she will this month, if you ask and are over 21), and can’t sell it because she lacks a liquor license, the act reflects her approach to doing business. “I’ve seen enough paint stores to do it differently,” she says of her 23 years in the house-painting business. The wine is just one of the many ways in which she endeavors to make her customers’ paint-buying experience a little less taxing. There’s also a jar of pretzels, a library of books about painting, and a public restroom, of which McCloud makes sure I take note. It’s art-adorned and immaculate, things she assures me, for a paint store, are rarities.
“I just wanted to do a little neighborhood thing,” says McCloud, happily pouring another glass of cabernet, this time for one of her regulars. And it seems to be paying off. Jill’s is undergoing an expansion that will almost double its floor space. She’s also renovating the bar, and looking into getting a liquor license. Even without these changes, though, Jill’s Paint offers a level of service and kind of attention that barely exists anymore. Accompany that with a glass of good wine, and you’ve got a rare, beautiful thing, indeed.
December Wine Tastings. Jill’s Paint, 3534 Larga Ave., Atwater Village, (323) 664-9067. Mons.-Sats. through Dec. 31, 4:30 p.m.-5 p.m. Free. Also, 10 percent off all items if you say, “Santa Jill sent me.” Jillspaint.com.
THIS WEEK IN THE CITY
FLUIDS FOR A FEVER
Get the fever, the holiday fever, by serving yourself from the musical-theater grain alcohol punchbowl that is – oh, boy! – Holiday Fever. Creators J.T. Austin and Dagney Kerr promise a comedy-variety show with song, dance, and “heat,” the kind you feel when clothed head-to-toe in bright-colored spandex while dancing under stage lights. This concoction mixes one part Carol Burnett Show and one part vintage Donny and Marie, plus a spritz of Solid Gold, all to render you sweaty and flush with seasonal joy. Nice theater bar, too. Closes Dec. 17. Thurs.-Sats. at 9 p.m. $18; $15 advance (reservations required).Unknown Theater, 1110 N. Seward St., Hollywood, (323) 446-7781. Unknowntheater.com.
MIXING AND MUNCHING
If you’re going to serve a lot of liquor, you could at least provide a few snacks. Sure, peanuts work, but tonight you can kick your bar food up a notch by taking the course “Cocktail Cuisine: The Art of Appetizers,” at Chef Eric’s Culinary Classroom. Get going on the tasty and learn to make mushroom and Gruyère tarts, artichoke leaves stuffed with prosciutto and Parmesan, or the East Asian spectacular that is peanut curry chicken salad in baked wonton cups. Bring a bottle of wine and invite a friend to the last 45 minutes of class, and together sample the fare that will win you that cocktail party-giver crown. 7 p.m.-10 p.m. $75. 2366 Pelham Ave., L.A., (310) 470-2640. Culinaryclassroom.com.
You’ve gone AWOL from the mall, and boutiques make you freak. What you need is a different kind of shopping experience, not to mention a good stiff drink. To the rescue is the Alternative Holiday Book Bazaar, taking place today at Wax Poetic in Burbank. Expect a wide array of local authors and artists selling their uniquely offbeat and masterful works (starting as low as $10), plus DJs creating Christmas-themed mash-ups, and free – that’s right, FREE – booze! Says co-organizer and writer Rob Cohen, “Last-minute holiday shopping sucks for everyone. We figured we’d get people drunk and make it fun. Plus, giving people art and books and stuff makes you look cool and erudite.” Ho, ho, ho, you know it’s so. 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Free. 3208 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, (818) 843-9469. Altbookbazaar.com.
VOCALS AND VINO
The Casa Italiana Opera Company has been making opera palatable to the masses for years, combining credible performances with multiple-course Italian dinners. Che buon’idea! Today the group stages an event that combines both of these activities in a holiday form: a selection of opera songs by all the big names (Donizetti, Puccini, Verdi), plus Christmas carols and a rousing rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” followed by supper with lots o’ wine to wash it down. Proceeds from this lively, libational afternoon will go to New Horizons, which holds programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities. 2:30 p.m. $35. Sam’s Café at New Horizons, 15725 Parthenia St., North Hills. Info: (818) 559-8696 or Casaitaliana.org.
WINE WITHOUT THE WHINE
See pg. 42 for some of the best in local wine dinners, and try one yourself, perhaps at the Crescent Hotel, which tonight hosts its last meal featuring grapey juice from Bennett Lane, a boutique winery in Napa Valley. You’ll sip chardonnays, cabernets, and many in between as you dine on a special menu composed by Erik Ritter, executive chef of Boé, the hotel’s swank restaurant and lounge. Gastronomes and oenophiles, unite and delight in garlic-stuffed pork loin with mashed celeriac and Yukon gold potatoes with berry gastrique, or tomato and red wine braised lamb shank with saffron risotto and persimmon prune sauce! And did we mention you’ll eat outside, by a fire? 5 p.m.-10 p.m. $125, plus tax and tip (reservations required). 403 N. Crescent Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 247-0505. Crescentbh.com.
SURF THE CANVAS
You’ve heard of a liquid lunch? Head to Otis College’s Ben Maltz Gallery before January 29 and feast your eyes on the tidal wave of compelling work in Step into Liquid, an exhibition curated by Dave Hickey, the celebrated culture critic and Otis’s Distinguished Guest Professor/Curator in Residence. Revisiting and updating postwar abstractionism, artists Jane Callister, Pia Fries, James Hayward, Michael Reafsnyder, and David Reed display paintings thick, gooey, splattered, splashed, and elegantly flowing. It’s a luscious and lushy little show that, at the very least, befits our city by the beach. Tues.-Sats. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs. until 7 p.m. Free. 9045 Lincoln Blvd., L.A., (310) 665-6905. Otis.edu.
A TOAST TO BUBBLES
“Monkey Day is more than an excuse to throw a drunken frat party – it’s also a great way to bring awareness to social and ethical issues regarding monkeys and primates,” declare the organizers of Monkey Day, celebrated today for the fifth year in a row. It started as a joke (natch), but now people are celebrating the world over while drawing attention to everything simian, including medical research, animal rights, and that sticky wicket called Evolution. So today, and every December 14 from now on, dress like an ape, grunt like a chimp, pick bugs off your neighbor’s head, and visit the official website for news and info, including recipes for alcoholic drinks du jour: Bald Monkey, Brass Monkey, Crazy Monkey, Crooked Monkey, Dirty Monkey, Flaming Gorilla … . Monkeyday.com.