Follow the Martini

How do you know if someone is Vegan?

A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you within the first 2 minutes of meeting them

That is how I used to think too. I have never been a huge meat eater, but I do eat turkey and chicken and until recently, would gobble up cheese and drink milk in my lattes. I still partake of some chicken and turkey (and sometimes eggs), but have really started limiting my dairy intake (HELLO Oat Milk!). So although I am not a vegan, I try and eat a more plant based diet when I can.

My friends are foodies. And not at all vegetarian or vegan. So when they go out to a steak house for dinner, they usually wouldn’t call me.

But recently, Shaka mentioned he had never been to Musso and Frank’s.

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He suggested we go. It had been awhile for me too. We didn’t have reservations but decided to take our chances at the bar. We invited Zappy and her hubs (Roni) and Mads and her hubs (who I think wants to be referred to as “Sweet Tush 45 (ST45)”). To our surprise, all were available and ready to join us. Zappy and Roni were already there. Everyone laughed when I said there was a smell of wealth in the air (starting with Zappy’s awesome fragrance), but I wasn’t trying to be funny. There is just something that happens in certain moments on certain nights with certain people. And this was one of them. Quentin Tarantino’s new film “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” was starting to preview, but I don’t think that is why this place is hopping. It’s an institution that could have gone the way of the Derby but it didn’t. And it was full. Full of people who were all there for different reasons.

Zappy ordered a shrimp cocktail and martini. I love vodka. But strange as this sounds, I had never had a martini. Not sure why. So when in Rome and all that…I ordered one.

Zappy looked at me and smiled, “You’re about to have an amazing night,” she said in a tone, reminiscent of a hippie turning a square onto LSD. She wasn’t lying.

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Our bartender, Sonny, kept calling me Bella. “He’s calling everyone Bella,” Zappy says in a tone reminiscent of Bea Arthur on the Golden Girls talking to Rose.

I AM Rose. I am drinking my first martini. And I am happy.

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Mads and ST45 show up. They are exhausted and are in hospice care for their dog. This is the first night out for them in awhile and they won’t be out too long so they can rush back to tend to their pooch. I look at ST45 and say, “this is my first martini!” He is used to my nonsense but is not in the mood. “I can’t tell if you’re kidding,” he says eyeing the bar. Cue eye roll when I tell him I am not. I don’t feel the shame he intends and I give him a hug. He needs a drink and a good night. As does Mads.

After trying to get a seat for dinner (and being laughed at by the hosts for such a question this late in the evening), we head down the street to dinner.

A few weeks later, Shaka and I want to take our friend Faye out to Musso and Frank’s. She is newer to LA and is soaking it all up with excitement. We head there for drinks. The parking attendant warns us that there may not be room at the bar either. We take our chance. It works out (as it always does with Faye and me combining our wonder twin powers).

Sonny is our bartender again. He calls us Bella (I guess Zappy wasn’t wrong) and I eat it up.

Or drink it up as I am now excited to order another martini. Shaka and Faye opt for gin and I stick with vodka. We are asking Sonny about people he may have served. He is cryptic but charming and has us laughing. He tells us he’s a poet. He comes back to us a few minutes later reciting some of his work. I ask him where we can get a copy. He comes back a few minutes later with his book.

We buy it. He signs it to all three of us. He is a character and we are here for it!

The martinis are perfect! We hate to leave but we have reservations down the street at Lono. Happy birthday, Faye! See ya soon, Sonny!

A few weeks later, Shaka and are car pooling home and he says he’s craving a martini (what has happened to us???). We head to Valley Inn in Sherman Oaks. Different vibe but delicious food and tasty drink!!!!

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Even though I love wine, I learned awhile ago to have a drink other than vino when you go to a bar. My choice was always vodka and soda.

What have I been doing NOT ordering martinis all these years?

Now in the going out mode with our hard-to-wrangle-schedules friends, we attempt another Hollywood night. We head to Sunset and Vinyl (a little hidden bar upstairs from a pizza joint).  Guess what I order? Guess! Guess!

Yup.

And it’s good.

Mads says, “why do you think I always order them? It is a great drink and you only need one.”  She’s right. Zappy and Roni show up and we head to dinner somewhere nearby.

A few weeks ago, Zappy and Roni invited Shaka and me to Taylor’s

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It had been so long since I had been to any of these places cuz…I don’t eat steak (and contrary to the joke I started this with, I actually applaud vegans, even if I only dabble). But my goal has changed to follow the martini. I don’t eat sushi either but I go for the sake. Same theory here.

A co-worker has told me about Colombo’s in Eagle Rock. She said the drinks are good and strong and the ambiance is dark and red, which I seem to be drawn to these days.

Guess where I will be heading next?

I love a good martini chase!

Long live vermouth! Cheers!