We've gone here twice; so far, haven't seen Justin Pike behind the bar. Devin Espinosa, who also runs the Hatchi Mix series at Breadbar, has been our bartender both times we visited. Based on two visits, I think this is one of the few places I've been that really competes with Varnish in Downtown LA, and if it were a little closer, I'd probably visit a lot more often. A Vieux Carré here was one of the best I've tried. Their "4 Square" is one of the few Campari drinks I can stomach, and is surprisingly balanced considering how much Campari is in it. Devin doesn't have as encyclopedic knowledge of obscure classics as some bartenders, and some of the drinks I've had slant a little towards the sweet side, but overall he makes well balanced drinks which are mixed properly, and the quality was consistent across both of our visits. Though I've only been to each of them once, I give this place a slight edge over both Copa D'Oro and Tar Pit.
I also like the fact that they make a lot of their own drams, bitters, and garnishes. The cocktail cherries are house-made, instead of the Luxardo ones. The place is busy enough, but not too busy.
There's also a great writeup (by someone else) with photos at: http://eatdrinknbmerry.blogspot.com/2010/04/tasting-kitchen-abbot-kinney-venice.html
Cocktails are mostly $12-13. The cocktail menu is more extensive than the one on their website. There are only a few items on the printed menu, but there's a blackboard with two sections - one of classics, and one of more modern cocktails.