Tired but bright and intent, a single faded blue eye stares out from behind bleach blonde bangs. Lacquered, long lashes flit and play as the eye darts around the room, searching. Long, bony fingers topped with manicured, perfectly painted nails cradle a dirty martini. Slightly cracked foundation swirls and conceals the beginnings of wrinkles. A lipstick-stained cigarette sits unattended, ashing in long curls. Slim, exposed legs vault from the bar stool, crossed impossibly tight. High stilettos dangle and a bejeweled ring tap, tap, taps on the bar. Restless but patient, the cougar stalks her prey.
So where do cougars go on the hunt, and more importantly what exactly is a cougar anyway? Urban Dictionary defines them as “Attractive women in their mid-30’s who are on the hunt once again, usually at nightclubs, bars, etc. She will not play the usual B.S. games that women in their early twenties participate in. She will be going for the kill, just like you.” Some may think the term cougar is derisive, while others may think it’s empowering, but between cougar conventions and cougar cruises, this brand of female is gaining in popularity as a symbol that life really does begin after 30. So where can you find the cougar’s lair? We combed the state of California (and a lot of Yelp! listings) to find some of the top cougar bars in the Bay Area and Southern California:
Cougar bait: Lemon drops and flavored martinis
“What i really wanted to say was that this place can get very cougar-heavy at times and there is a travelodge next door. nuff said…” -Andrew T.
Image: Kevin Goebel
‘Nuff said indeed, Andrew. Those who have stayed in their chairs and continued reading past the words “travelodge next door” are obviously not cougar-caliber cubs.
Cougar bait: Burgers and white zin
“This place is good for the following: cougars, old dudes, anyone who wants to feel better about themselves by comparison.” -marisa g.
“RAWWR for Wednesday nights… for some reason [the cougars] are there and dressed to the fricken NINES.” -Katie H.
“I always have an OK time, perhaps because it’s not my crowd and I’m not an older aggressive woman.” -Ana A.
“Unfortunately I found myself prey to a middle-aged married woman. She butted into my ongoing conversation so she could tell us about her sexless marriage and the unforgiving burden of children. Runaway…runaway! So yeah you have to watch out for that.” -Jeremy S.
“As I peered from the door, my view was completely blanketed by a sea of middle aged patrons adorning worsted wool, slacks, neckties, dye jobs, boob jobs and face-lifts.” -Noah H.
Cougar bait: Fernet shots with a ginger back. Flash those adorable cub eyes at the cougar who catches your fancy, and let her buy you one. Nothing gets the feral instinct flowing like fernet
“Was picked up by a 24 year old (if they go after me am I cougar or is it just if I go after them?) who told me he would hate me ‘like forever’ because I wouldn’t take him home.” -Jennifer s.
“There’s also a room in the back with video games. Play Big Buck Hunter. FUN!” -Jessica F.
Cougar bait: Wine tastings and fine cheeses
“I thought it was the big cat house at the zoo. I have never seen more cougars in my life.” -Chris I.
“I did notice that the cougars were definitely on the prowl. Not, cute ones either scarrrryyyyy cougars.” -Douggers M.
“Well-dressed SOMA white collar professionals galore, beautiful pumas and cougars abound.” -D N.
“I can definitely understand the appeal and if I were into the young successful businessman/woman meets exquisite cougarette/manther I’d be all over this place.” -David L.
Cougar bait: Scorpion bowls!
“I guess the fact that it is supposedly the #1 cougar bar in the city should have been a hint..” -tina p.
“Scorpion bowl = cheapass champagne, 5 shots of rum, some other cheap alchy, juice, ice.” -Selena W.
“Trad’r Sam’s is a great place to drink mystery alcoholic beverages in large quantities, and when you’re feeling down there is always someone in there who is worse off than you.” -Emily X.
Cougar bait: Attractive bartenders and generous pours
“I got ice thrown at me from some 38-going-on-55 cougar with a bad perm, which actually felt kind of refreshing thanks to the sweltering heat” -Kelly P.
“It made me laugh that my friend called the bartender “Hey cute bartender” to his face when she asked him for some waters. If we ever go back I think we should never learn his real name, it will forever just be “Cute Bartender”.” -Muriel D.
Cougar bait: Bottomless mimosas. “Hands down the best happy hour in the Marina”
“If you can navigate the sea of vapid blondes and aging sharks in striped shirts, this ain’t such a bad place. The folks are friendly and are looking to meet new friends.” -D S.
“Great bloody marys. Terrible crowd. Full of baseball-hat wearing fools, people with their BMW keys on the bar, and cougars.” -Chris H.
“A little too froo froo for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel the need to put on a full face of makeup for fish tacos and beer at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.” -Karla B.
“I generally don’t like the vibe later in the week when it converts to a meat market (cougars, preppies, overly eager girls on the hunt for that payday, etc.)” -rafael s.
Cougar bait: Irish coffee
“I needed liquid courage before my quarterly botox and collagen appointment around the way on Maiden Lane and Gold Dust Lounge delivered.” -Jennifer C P.
“When you’re in the mood for sleazy and want to feel dirty… this place fits the bill.” -Marlene K.
“It’s got alternating layers of of scum and swank in the patina that makes up its character. It’s sort of like a divier version of Martuni’s.” -Brigid B.
Cougar bait: $12 bottomless mimosa Sundays
“I got hit on by a guy that was 6 years younger than me and it made me feel like a cougar, but I am just a puma.” -Merrilee T.
“On a personal note… this place was the beginning to an end… It just shows how I don’t hold grudges… I could have easily have given them 1 star for the bad memories.. but it is not their fault I had too many libations and the rest is history.. LOL” -Amelia M.
“Have you ever had one of those drunken evenings when you got into a deep debate regarding what the definition of a Cougar is?” -Alex R.
Cougar bait: Located inside a hotel
“I am a fan of the endless observation opportunities of growling cougars chasing after 20-somethings dressed in striped collared shirts – slightly popped under a blazer.” -Deann M.
“So so crowd.. the chics here are a little older…I was at a party and someone mention that this place is known as a cougar hang out spot. It explains all the older women in skimpy outfits even though it was COLD AS HELL!!!” -Ervinna L.
“For the brave at heart, there are plenty of cougars on the prowl who will gladly pick up your tab in exchange for some carnal favors….Don’t say I didn’t warn you!” -Josh G.
Cougar bait: Karaoke night + photo booth + pool table + cheap, stiff drinks + shooters named after a certain intimate act in the sack
If I was single, I’d be here all the time. Why? Cougars. So many cougars. This bar is super loud. I went on karaoke night and we had to practically yell at each other throughout the night but I could still hear the cougars licking their chops. -Joe D.
Cougar bait: Bizarre Chinese aesthetic that feels like an opium den/dive bar with a jukebox blaring out Top 40 hits
“The jukebox has ax excellent selection, and they also have air conditioning inside for the hot cougar nights” -Summit S.
“I do remember getting there early…around 9ish. i came prepared with my cougar top and all. rawr!” -Jill C.
Cougar bait: Better-than-average bar food. Great happy hour with a beautiful Manhattan Beach crowd. Located inside the Shade Hotel
Image: Shade Hotel
“Many reviewers had labeled it as a cougar den, this I did not believe until I saw it with my own eyes. The place was PACKED with women in their mid 30s to early 40s.” -Eli G.
Image: Shade Hotel
“Yup, I totally ate and drank (a mojito and pomegranate martini) while enjoying a ring side seat watching the mating rituals of real life Mrs. Robinsons. Love it! True to its form, it is a cougar den.” -Mich E.
Cougar bait: Conveniently located in Newport Beach. A popular spot for lunch on weekdays. Transforms into a see-and-be-seen spot for cougars, pumas and their male counterparts at night
“333 is where the cougars and the time-fighters go out to play!” -Mandy M.
“One of the ultimate Cougar Lairs.” -Rosalynn H.
Cougar bait: High-end hotel bar with an outdoor lounge, fire pits, decent bar food, chic decor, and expensive valet parking. Mixed LA and out-of-towner crowd with everyone from young professionals to Baby Boomers
“We saw everything from roving packs of cougars to wannabe models who skipped out on the check.” -Rhonda S.
Cougar bait: Feels like Hollywood, but conveniently located in the Valley. Attractive lounge area and an outdoor patio space
“Holy Cougar! When we walked in I felt like I was on an episode of The Real Housewives of Studio City. There were cougars everywhere.” -Krista L.
Cougar bait: Upscale, classy ambiance meets DJs playing house music and live burlesque dancers. A mix of hip urban scenesters and beach-going martini crowds
“It has a cool interior and is a decent scene for cougar hunting…” -Ryan L.
“Wow… what a cougar-den! And man… were they on the prowl that night!” -Love C.
Cougar bait: Outdoor patio complete with heating lamps and plenty of space to mingle. Restaurant by day, cocktail scene by night
“The Southern California organic modern cougar feeding pen/patio is state of the art as well.” -Caleb B.
“For the gents, FYI that this is cougar territory.” -Helen C.
Cougar bait: Swank lounge inside the Viceroy Hotel. Very early happy hour food and drink selections (starting at 2pm) help cougars get to bed early.
“I’ll be back as soon as my ‘win the lotto’ plan comes to fruition or I’m looking to get mauled by a cougar in exchange for a drink sponsorship.” -Brian C.
“Cool place, check it out. You’ll meet a cougar. Or two.” -Vamsee K.
Cougar bait: Inside a classy hotel (do all cougars prowl hotel bars?). Overlooking Santa Monica Pier and the Pacific Ocean
“Only one way to describe this place: Cougariffic. As an adamant supporter of the cougar lifestyle, I decided to check this place out after school Friday with a friend. The caipirinhas are strong as hell and by 8pm I was lit. I went back at 10 before I returned to my car and it appeared that all the cougars had hunted their prey because the place was empty. So, I guess between the hours for 4-8pm is prime time for the cougars.” -Srinivas R.