Something has shaken or stirred: The martinis of Los Angeles
Something has shaken general United Sta Los Angele
Los Angeles, United States Of America
537. That’s the number of the martinis Musso and Frank made on a recent night on Saturday, 456 of which were with olives; 113, requested dirty and 72, with a twist (the remaining 9 had pearl onions, which technically makes them Gibsons). That’s a whole lot of gin to stir, but nothing new for the seminal Hollywood steakhouse, which celebrates its 100th birthday Sept. 27 with the unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Musso is an institution, but there are as more places in this town to drink a martini as there are ways to prepare one. And so, in honor of Musso’s centennial, we put our livers to the test on a little martini romp through the ages, sampling versions at restaurants across the spectrum, from old-school to newfangled. Some of the versions we sampled were classics whose formula has remained untouched for decades, while others take a decidedly more freewheeling approach. Which was the best? That’s for you to decide — now get shaking (or stirring, if that’s more your style).
What is there to know about Musso & Frank, the city’s ur-martini temple? The bar opened the day Prohibition ended, and the martini has not changed since. A few quick stats: The house spirit for both gin and vodka is Gilby, the olives are cured in-house and vermouth is omitted unless requested. (Yes, that’s right, a martini here is straight liquor, which might explain your wobbly legs after just one.) Stirred is de rigueur, and the finish drink is giving in a smaller-than-normal glass, with the remainder of the cocktail poured into a sidecar and kept on ice to ensure it keeps its chill. But none of that matters half as much as the real secret ingredient: the well-seasoned bartenders. “I’m not looking for someone who can spin four cocktails at once,” says Andrea Scuto, general manager and wine director. “Our bartenders are like psychologists — they know exactly what to say, when to say it, what to pour, and how to pour it.” A martini here is simply a rite of passage.