Get Your Drink on Like James Bond with the Best Martinis in L.A.

Plus, why you should order them stirred, not shaken

Tonight James Bond fans everywhere will be toasting the premiere of the 24th Bond movie, Spectre, with a shaken, not stirred vodka martini. Belvedere vodka even partnered with the movie creating a Spectre 007 Martini, which is a touch dirty with olive brine, as well as shiny limited edition 007 Silver Saber bottle.

However, cocktail enthusiasts will buck 007 tradition with the preferred gin martini which is actually stirred, NOT shaken. You see, stirring the cocktail achieves not only optimum dilution but a desired silkiness. Shaking it gets you, well, a mess of ice chips and bubbles. One can only guess that Bond drank it that way because he was on the run.

If you want to make the perfect martini, here’s Cocktail Maestro Salvatore Calabrese’s recipe to make at home. OR check out a few of my favorites around town for any occasion.

Improved Martini

Vesper: Russian Standard vodka, Bombay Dry Gin, Cocchi Americano
Viviane’s Vesper

Photograph by Caroline on Crack

The Vesper has always been my personal favorite libation to sip while watching a James Bond flick. But it wasn’t until I had bartender Ryan Wainwright’s Vesper at Viviane that I realized Bond got it all wrong with the recipe. The Casino Royale Vesper is a booze bomb with four ounces of spirits (three parts gin and one part vodka). “It’s like shooting a rocket off into my face,” says Wainwright. “I just wanted to bring it together and get it perfectly rounded.” Thus his version calls for one ounce of Russian Standard vodka, one ounce of Bombay Sapphire dry gin, one ounce of Cocchi being the sweetener, two dashes of orange bitters, stirred and served up with a lemon twist. The result is smoother and more balanced—definitely more befitting of the suave British agent.

Day-Friendly Martini

Redbird's Julia Child: French vermouth, gin, orange bitters, lemon essence
Redbird’s Julia Child

Photograph by Caroline on Crack

For Redbird’s lunch menu, bar manager Tobin Shea wanted to bring back the three-martini lunch so he created low-ABV martinis, perfect for sipping and returning to work right after. His Julia Child is based on the famous chef’s favorite version of a martini with five parts vermouth to one part gin. Shea uses Dolin vermouth for it. “With Dolin it was awesome, any other vermouth is so-so, but the Dolin really makes it shine,” says Shea.

Super Dirty Martini

Spare Room
Spare Room’s Salt & Vinegar Martini

Photograph by Caroline on Crack

For those who like an absolutely filthy martini—said with love—there’s Yael Vengroff’s Salt & Vinegar Martini at Spare Room. Instead of a savory olive brine her martini is made with a vinegary pickle brine and celery shrub. “I’m going to take any classic and really blow it out. Take it my way and a step ahead,” she says. Thankfully this comes with a side of chips to take the edge off. It’s definitely not for the timid.

Entry-Level Martini

Normandie Club's Martini
Normandie Club’s Martini

Photograph by Caroline on Crack

And on the other end of the spectrum is Normandie Club’s very easy drinking martini. It’s an elegant mix of vodka, Fino sherry, raw white honey, and sel gris. Even folks who fear the standard martini love this version as it goes down so smoothly. No harshness or heat. Personally, it’s how I start the evening when I’m in Koreatown.

Iconic Martini

Listen to Sinatra's "That's Life" while sipping on Musso & Frank's Martini.
Musso & Frank’s Martini

Photograph by Caroline on Crack

No L.A. martini list is complete without the version at Musso and Frank grill. It’s a whole throwback experience at the iconic Hollywood bar which has popped up in many a Mad Men episode and very well could be in a Bond movie if the agent ever found himself in L.A. Order it with your gin or vodka of choice and it will arrive before you with a sidecar of excess cocktail.