The Best Damn Dirty Vodka Martini
A life update and a running list of the best dirty vodka martinis
Lately, my Instagram has felt the need to share ads with me for products like Reframe. An app, which ostensibly, gets you to drink less alcohol or stop at all. I haven’t tried it because I’m wary of apps like that — like Noom, a weight loss app which I finally stopped doing ads for on Keep It thanks to listener feedback; though I get alcohol isn’t food — but I have started to think about my drinking habits.
I think the pandemic altered those in a completely different way. The majority of the pandemic has involved binge drinking. Wine. Cocktails. Shots of vodka on House Party and Zoom. This year, I’m on the verge of a move after 11 years in Los Angeles and I think that I’m finally about to hit a reset button. I never envisioned myself staying in any city for this long, I get restless too often. It’s why I love traveling so much. For me, a new location will hopefully imbue me with a renewed sense of self. But this summer in particular is more than setting down roots in a new city (New York, to be exact, where I lived for five years prior to moving to Los Angeles). It’s also about imbuing the DNA of adventure into my life on a daily basis. I also now have an apartment in my favorite city in Europe — Amsterdam — and I plan on spending part of the summer there to finish my book, and more time there in general to use as a general homebase for traveling throughout the year.
(For anyone else considering a move to Europe, permanent or temporary, I’ll try to use this space to keep you up to date on what that process looks like in real time. Maybe I’ll eventually just go full throttle ex-pat, but not yet)
Adventure to me, has always looked like cinema. Nick and Nora. James Bond. And within those adventures, they’re usually drinking the perfect cocktail… a martini. My method of “reframing” my drinking means enjoying more cocktails and less shitty well drinks at gay bars and raves. I’ve cycled through several favorite cocktails — the moscow mule, the gin and tonic, the paloma, more recently the French 75. I adore a French 75, but I classify it as an aperitif to a meal or even just an evening of drinks. Much like another fave, the Espresso Martini, most restaurants now have their own “take” on the French 75, which doesn’t ever taste like the damn drink I’d like them to make. So I’ve now settled on the vodka martini as my drink of choice; it’s a relatively simple drink to make. It’s sort of hard to fuck up. But I prefer a dirty martini, which is incredibly easy to fuck up I’ve found. That perfect balance of vermouth, vodka, and olive juice is extremely delicate. And now I’ve made it my mission to discover the perfect dirty martini.
I’m going to keep a running list of dirty martinis I try, at every bar and restaurant I visit. I’ll update the list periodically for subscribers. (Share your restaurant and bar suggestions below, I’ll keep those in mind when I travel)
Jack and Charlie’s No. 118
West Village, NY
Belvedere. My first dirty martini of this journey, but it will be hard to beat. This new restaurant in the West Village not only has a great fucking martini, but I adored the pappardelle bolognese. Also, shout out to a lively West Village restaurant that’s not impossible to get a reservation at (yet, at least) and has a chic clientele. It only recently opened in October 2021, so it could very well become a new hotspot as celebrities and other important people are literally fleeing their normal spots thanks to Deux Moi having everyone snap up photos of them shoving food into their mouths at places like Cafe Cluny and Balthazar and Pastis and Morandi. And for the record, the staff at Morani is rude as hell and L’Artusi (five minutes away on 10th) has much better food.
The Cheesecake Factory
West Hollywood, CA
Belvedere. My favorite new restaurant at The Grove, which is a Mexican restaurant I think is named ALMA but it’s literally always closed because they don’t have enough foot traffic so I won’t bother to learn the name of a restaurant that’s clearly closing by the end of the year. So on the occasion of seeing an evening screening of Marry Me, I finally visited the Cheesecake Factory at The Grove for the first time. And maybe I’m giving extra points for being a great martini at a chain restaurant… but it was surprisingly amazing? There was just enough olive juice without going overboard. Like, it really pushed things right up to the Danger Zone and then stopped short. Excellent martini.
West Hollywood, CA
Grey Goose. Dripping in olive juice and overloaded with olives (Four?? If two weren’t allegedly bad luck, I’d always take two, but one or three is fine). The worst dirty martini I’ve had in weeks.