Bar Crawl: The Musso & Frank martini
I take pleasure in simplicity: reading Philip K. Dick on my patio when the sun is setting and the nearby church bells are clanging; finding a completely mind-bending pair of high heels in a thrift store that just happen to fit me and cost $3; talking to a man who instantly shares my irrational hatred for the music of Santana; and riding my bike to get a pedicure and having to walk it home wearing those flimsy little rubber flip flops because my nails are still wet and I can't put my shoes back on.
But nothing makes me happier than drinking a cold, clean, crisp martini. And for my money the best basic martini in town can still be found at Musso & Frank. Maybe it's the old wooden bar, or the dignified bartenders in their red jackets that start my heart melting, but surely there is a touch of magic in the way those bartenders twist and flick their wrists as they stir the gin or vodka in a glass of ice and pour it deftly into a regular-sized martini glass -- not one of those ridiculous oversized numbers that you find at newfangled restaurants and nightclubs nearby.
I was reminded of my love for the Musso & Frank martini last night when I brought a friend who had just moved to town to the bar to experience one. My friend is a bartender and she likes -- and makes -- fancy creations. She immediately ordered a French martini. The bartenders looked at each other, not quite knowing how to respond. They didn't have the requisite Chambord anyway, so I gently suggested to my friend that she settle for a classic martini.
The bartender whipped it up with assurance and speed, and when he poured the glistening liquid into her glass he said, "This isn't a French martini. It's a Musso & Frank martini."
Martinis from $8.50 to $11. Musso & Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 467-7788. www.mussoandfrankgrill.com.
-- Jessica Gelt
Photo: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times