It's Your Last Night to Grab a Drink at La Valencia's Whaling Bar

The Whaling Bar at La Valencia will close on Feb. 14 to make room for a few French bistro.

Saddle up to the bar for one last "Whaler." The delicious booze and ice cream-filled concoction that La Jollans and visitors have loved for years.

La Valencia’s Whaling Bar is closing on Valentine’s Day. Its last signature cocktail will be served Thursday night. The 60-year-old bar, a haven for artists and writers for many years, will be redesigned as a French bistro and renamed Café La Rue.

“The Whaling Bar of today is indeed a great legend, but sadly one that sits mostly idle with but a handful of loyal customers at any given time. The stories of past writers and celebrities are true and they are lovely but many decades long gone; their legacy however will always remain,” the hotel's Managing Director Mark Dibella said in a letter dated Jan. 3.

Dibella recounted stories of actor Gregory Peck and children’s book writer Theodor Geisel visiting the Whaling Bar and Café La Rue, which is adjacent to the Whaling Bar inside the hotel.

There are accounts of Gore VidalNorman Mailer and Beat-era poet Michael McClure drinking at the Whaling Bar. 

Newspaperman Walter Winchell, rocker Rod Stewart, actor Jack Lemmon and actress Lucille Ball all visited the Whaling Bar in the past. (Hear about a few more famous visitors from long-time bartender Rey Arcibal.)

The new space will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a French bistro feel with wine vault. Fare will be lighter than its current menu. It will have better access to the patio for outdoor dining, more seating and lobby-level restrooms.

Café La Rue is expected to open this spring.


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