I can honestly say I’ve never used the words “tramp stamp” and “granny” in the same sentence, so of course I had to check out LA’s newest piano bar, Tramp Stamp Granny’s, to see if it lived up to the name. Located in the heart of Hollywood’s Cahuenga Strip, Tramp Stamp Granny’s ironically took the place of Grandpa Johnson’s Cocktail Club, which closed unexpectedly last year. The love child of co-owners Darren Criss and fiancée Mia Swier, Tramp Stamp Granny’s pays tribute to L.A.’s past with a modern twist.
Long before portraying Toby Phillips in “Little White Lie” and his breakout role as the openly gay Blaine Anderson on Fox’s musical hit “Glee,” Criss played piano at the Grove’s Maggiano’s restaurant to make ends meet. Criss (and his abs) were all over the blogs during the first weekend of Coachella, but during Tramp Stamp Granny’s opening week, Criss himself was a regular on the piano. If you didn’t get a chance to hear him play, don’t worry. Chances are you’ll get the opportunity again. I walked (yes, walked) to the piano bar on a Sunday night, passing well known watering holes like The Room Hollywood, Velvet Margarita, and the Attic along the way. When I got to Tramp Stamp Granny’s and realized I’d have to walk through a red curtain to get inside, I knew I was in for a treat.
The most important part of a piano bar (besides the cocktail list, which I’ll get to later) is the music, and Sunday night’s piano player didn’t disappoint with his impeccable song selection. Known to the bartenders simply as Mike, he performed his rendition of songs like “Wonderwall” by Oasis and Elton John’s classic “Tiny Dancer” – the kinds of songs you’d sing along to even if you’re sober, but definitely when you’re drunk. The acoustics were perfectly balanced. I was pleased at the simple fact that I could easily hold a conversation while still enjoying great music. Mike took a break from his set and suddenly I was listening to Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” followed immediately by Go West’s classic “King of Wishful Thinking.” The former song got one brave patron out of his seat and on the dancefloor, channeling his inner Chevy Chase. (If you’ve seen the music video, you’ll get it.) Even if you happen to miss the piano player, the music overall is just what you’d want from a place like Tramp Stamp Granny’s: A throwback to New York-style sing-along hubs like “Rose’s Turn” and “Pieces.”
Tramp Stamp Granny’s is a small space with a lot to take in. The piano is the main attraction and the fact that you can sit right around it only adds to the sense of intimacy. From the brass fixtures to the hardwood, chevron-printed floors and the contemporary art hung tastefully on the walls, each detail feels carefully thought out. Whether you’re lounging in the red velvet chairs or standing by the marble top bar, Tramp Stamp Granny’s is a vibe. It’s a “Great Gatsby” meets “Cocktail” vibe – the kind of vibe I didn’t even realize my soul needed until I walked through that red curtain. It’s a uniquely inviting atmosphere that’s sadly missing from many bars and nightclubs throughout Hollywood.
In addition to great music, Tramp Stamp Granny’s offers a full bar and interesting cocktail list complete with names like Great Rac, Boob Soup, Actress/ Waitress/ Mattress, Pierced Nipple, and their signature, the Tramp. You can order spirit shots like Matcha Vodka, Basil Vodka, Truffle Bourbon, and my favorite, Bacon Bourbon. They’ve got PBR and Pale Ale on tap, and for the non- drinkers, there’s Kombucha on tap (or in my case, diet coke.) The bartenders are friendly and know how to make a proper drink, which is essential to any bar, especially in Hollywood.
A few minutes before I had to call it a night, Mike came back to the piano and said a few words before he began his second set. He said that when you come to Tramp Stamp Granny’s, you can always expect “…great people, great staff, great family.” Los Angeles is a big city and a bar that makes you feel welcome and at home is priceless. Tramp Stamp Granny’s is just that kind of bar.