Belly Up: Adult Beverages
I wasn't there, but this past week my good friend in New York went to a cocktail place on Hudson Street called Employees Only and had one of my favorite cocktails, a Manhattan.
Cocktails are something that sadly have gone out of fashion, I think. LA isn't really a big drinking town, since you pretty much have to drive. Mixed drinks when you see them are usually some sort of infused thing, or something winking like a "lemon drop", served in a martini glass the size of a bathtub and consumed by a "Real Housewife". I've had one, and I will admit the first sip is marvelous, when it's icy cold. By the third sip it's not so cold and tastes like cough syrup. This is I think true of almost any cocktail shaken over ice and served straight-up. If you rent an old movie where people are drinking, the martinis are served in tiny glasses no doubt to keep the drink cold. At Musso & Franks, the Hollywood restaurant that's been serving them since prohibition was repealed, your martini comes in a wee little glass, with a glass flacon containing the rest of the cocktail sitting in a bed of crushed ice. Two of them and you're done for. Trust me, I've been there...
I love Manhattans (and Manhattan for that matter). There's something about the combination of the harsh bourbon and the sweet vermouth that just says that they were made to be together. It's a drink that you want to dress up for, or at least put on a jacket. It's the perfect sort of thing to have before a retro-fabulous dinner: Oysters Rockefeller, Caesar salad, asparagus and a really nice steak. As a matter of fact I used to have that exact menu with my Manhattan at the Old Bob Burns restaurant in Santa Monica back in the 90's before it closed. It was quintessential Old Hollywood: dark paneling, a smokers lounge, a piano player and classic California food. Those oysters and that steak helped soak up some of that Manhattan. In the interest of keeping my waistline and my cholesterol numbers lower than my zip code I didn't go often, but when I did go I enjoyed.
These days of course those places are few and far between. Now the places are all polished concrete and artisinal lettuce and for the most part I'm drinking white wine if I'm drinking at all. Two glasses is an event. But one of these days I think I'm going to seek out someplace to have a Manhattan and a steak, maybe at Musso & Franks. Who wants to come?