Best Drinking Room, May 2006
Vodbox —a brightly lit, arctic-white bunker at the rear of Nic’s Restaurant and Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills—is that wonderfully rare environment where the urbane and the cornball coexist in near-perfect harmony. To survive the 15-degree weather inside, you are outfitted with a faux-fur coat and a bargain-basement version of a Soviet-era papakha. Once you’re properly attired, the steward will usher you into the drinking room and pour you shots ($21 for the first two tastes) from an astonishing library of vodkas, all the while delivering reverential and informed explanations of what your palate is about to experience. Here is the one L.A. establishment where you can order the highly fortifying Potacki, imported from Poland’s oldest distillery. There’s also a Dutch incarnation that’s smooth and velvety and burbling with black cherry accents, several rare Russian varieties, and most endearingly, an American-made Hamptons vodka whose Long Island seaside pretensions belie that it’s fashioned from—what else?—pure Minnesota corn.