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5 Best Martinis in Los Angeles

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Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 1:14 PM

click to enlarge A Good Martini - DAINA BETH SOLOMON
  • Daina Beth Solomon
  • A Good Martini
The handful of establishments that made our 5 Best Martinis in L.A. list are not notable for their martini happy hours, Kim Kardashian-friendly accommodations or cute cocktail names. They simply make a fine martini. Vodka or gin, dealer's choice or your choice, depending on how you like to roll on a Saturday night.

Full disclosure: We started with a much broader list, including a basil-infused summer version by the beach, a seasonal pomegranate or some such holiday creation downtown. But we just couldn't bring ourselves to include them. These are martinis we are talking about.

That said, we did make one exception. We have an apple martini, though notably not a green apple version, on the list (yeah, yeah, we know). But we included the fresh apple version in the interest of future road-trip fun, when the only options for dinner are at an urban sprawl-fueled corporate chain (Outback, Bennigan's, we could go on), and we will inevitably find ourselves back in a sea of green apple martinis. The very same cocktails we remember from what seems like decades ago, the ones that never seem to change. These are the moments we can remember that one inspired version we had, back home in L.A., of what is perhaps our city's worst lingering contribution to general American cocktail ideology.

click to enlarge Cana Apple Martini - DAINA BETH SOLOMON
  • Daina Beth Solomon
  • Cana Apple Martini
5. Cana Rum Bar:

"An Actual Apple Martini." Cana Rum Bar has chosen its menu words carefully here, and for good reason. And normally, we would move right on past any such green apple innuendos. Though we appreciate that the green apple martini is an L.A. native, we have yet to develop palate appreciation for cocktails the color of Jell-O. At Cana, your apple martini will arrive appropriately cider-hued and sporting two fresh apple-infused gins, Pommeau de Normandie (unfermented apple juice and Calvados), dry vermouth and a splash of Creole bitters. And as *fresh* apples are required here, this is not a year-round offering, as neon green sorts of beverages tend to be. You will find it in the fall, winter and early spring -- or as long as those fresh apples and supplies of Pommeau de Normandie hold out. 714 W. Olympic Blvd., dwntwn. (213) 817-5321.

click to enlarge Vodka Martini at the Grill on the Alley - DAINA BETH SOLOMON
  • Daina Beth Solomon
  • Vodka Martini at the Grill on the Alley
4. The Grill on the Alley:

For those of us who are gin martini fans, we leave the "other" side of the best martini equation to our seasoned vodka martini aficionados. Those imbibers who, like Jonathan Gold, understand that a vodka martini is about the atmosphere as much as the vodka-to-vermouth-ratio. As Gold describes the Grill on the Alley's martini: "While we understand that a proper martini is at least one-third vermouth, maybe half, we know that it doesn't usually happen that way, at least outside the kinds of places where the bartenders wear sleeve garters and vests and exhibit the kind of attitude you might expect from a man who formulates his own bitters. A great vodka martini depends on the chill and the dilution, and on the steak you're planning to eat, and on the $5,000 suits worn by the other people in the room. Where else but the Grill on the Alley." 9560 Dayton Way, Beverly Hills. (310) 276-0615.

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