Photography by Jim Jordan
There might be some construction noise David Cooley tells me as we sit on the sprawling patio of The Abbey. Cooley, the owner of this West Hollywood institution widely considered the world’s best gay bar, is just a few weeks away from The Abbey’s 25th anniversary party as we speak. The blowout May 24 bash is, of course, a celebration of a legendary nightlife venue, which has been all about inclusion since its start and welcomed both gay and straight revelers. Elizabeth Taylor was a frequent guest and drinking companion of Cooley’s. The Sex and the City cast and Sandra Bullock came. Christina Aguilera and Sam Smith are current regulars.
Cooley, 55, beams when I ask how he reacts when The Abbey is referred to as a legendary gay hangout. “It’s become a worldwide brand,” he says. “It’s nice to know the business I started is a celebrity within itself in L.A. We’re on the TMZ tour because of being the best, biggest gay bar in the world where celebrities hang out—Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite pub. Many people on the tour get off the bus, have a drink and stay. They don’t get back on the bus.”
Cooley, no doubt, deserves to bask in his bar’s glorious past and enjoy the company of the 25,000-plus visitors who pop by for generously poured drinks every single week. Do some quick math, and you’ll realize that Cooley sells millions of drinks each year. (“We serve 10-ounce martinis,” he says and smiles when I ask about The Abbey’s staying power. “For most of the major liquor brands, we’re the nation’s largest account.”)
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