Gin. Dry Vermouth. Shaken (or stirred) with ice, then strained into a stylish though somewhat impractical glass, with either an olive or a twist of lemon peel dropped in at the end.
With such a brief recipe, could the quality of the Martini Cocktail actually vary that much from establishment to establishment? The answer is, of course, “GOD yes!” And the martini served at Los Angeles’s venerable Musso and Frank is the finest I have ever had.
We were celebrating my recent graduation from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, whose founding faculty included Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith. While I was studying there, I also received a bit of financial help from the Mary Pickford Foundation. Pickford, Griffith, and Fairbanks, along with Charlie Chaplin, founded United Artists 1919, and they were all regulars at Musso and Frank, which opened that same year. Chaplin’s favorite dish was the grilled lamb kidneys, and an “oft-repeated, but unverified story“1 has Douglas Fairbanks racing Rudolph Valentino down Hollywood Boulevard on horseback to get to the famous bar and grill.