Want a quick buzz in the LA’s South Bay’s Beach Cities?
Then go to Old Tony’s on the Redondo Beach Pier and order the Fire Chief.
It’s the South Bay’s Strongest Drink, a ferocious red tide of a cocktail served with crushed ice in a lowball glass. The Fire Chief is a Mai Tai with 151 and grenadine, and it packs a punch as strong as the storm that knocked down the Redondo Beach Pier on Memorial Day Weekend in 1988.
When talking to a newcomer to South Bay about the local nightlife scene, I mentioned Old Tony’s, and she said her roommates had already taken her to the place. When I mentioned the Fire Chief she responded,”oh, the blackout drink!”
The drinks come with a souvenir glass stamped with the Old Tony’s logo. “They do that,” a friend once told an Old Tony’s first-timer, “so you can remember you had them when you leave.”
Long-time locals have collected so many of of the glasses over the years they simply hand them back to the bar when departing.
They are best enjoyed in the “Crow’s Nest,” the small round bar upstairs from the restaurant (and above another cool bar with a fire pit). It has floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean the King Harbor channel.
As one would expect, sunsets are a popular time to go to Old Tony’s. And Happy Hour, which runs from 3-7, Monday-Thursday, means all drinks are discounted by $1.50; so the Fire Chief costs a more modest $6.50. The bar also has a small menu, mainly offering appetizers, many of them fried.
Sit at one of the tables at the western end of the bar and when you look out over the roof of the pier in front of you, it looks like a ship listing heavily to starboard, seemingly on the verge of falling into the harbor. After a few sips of a Fire Chief, you’re suddenly not certain if it’s you or the roof that’s leaning.
Okay, the Fire Chiefs are not impossibly strong. Certainly not for the party veterans of the South Bay. But they are interestingly intoxicating, and I recommend having only what you can handle.
In addition to the Fire Chief, Old Tony’s has live entertainment – usually a single musician with a guitar – every day except Monday (7-11 except on Friday and Saturdays when it’s 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m.).
The place is a long-standing Redondo Beach icon and has autographed pictures of about a hundred celebrities – some famous, some not and only Liberace’s is in color – on the walls along the steps between the upstairs and downstairs. It brings in traditional people from Redondo Beach, skippers from adjacent King Harbor, and is occasionally filled with youthful exuberance when the party people roll in from Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.
Old Tony’s is located at 210 Fisherman’s Wharf on the Redondo Beach Pier. It’s next to Starboard Attitude.