There comes a point in everyone’s life when they realize the true joy of drinking alcohol doesn’t come from dancing on tables and hooking up with random people in bathroom stalls. It comes from sitting in complete silence and judging the f*ck out of every person who walks past them. And when this revelation finally hits you, there’s only one drink you’re going to want in your hand - a martini. This classic cocktail is much more than just a glass of vodka or gin with some vermouth, it’s a full-on power statement that rewards you with the ability to sit and glare at whomever you want.
From a classic West Hollywood Italian restaurant to a caviar bar inside LAX, here are the 13 best places in LA to do just that.
If you consider yourself a martini drinker and haven’t spent a night at Dan Tana’s, then you actually aren’t a martini drinker. Sorry, we don’t make the rules, we just write about them. A meal at this classic Weho Italian restaurant is a LA rite of passage, one that’ll almost certainly include shots with the maître d′, a Ron Jeremy sighting, and several rounds of gin martinis. At some point - most likely in between eating the best chicken parmesan in town and the woman in the pink boa blowing you a kiss from the bar - it’ll hit you: Dan Tana’s isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience, and one of the best in the entire city.
Tower Bar is best known for ice cream sundaes and enraged talent agents throwing cellphones into the pool, but this hotel restaurant/bar is also an idyllic place to drink many ounces of vodka and practice your side-eye. Located right on The Strip, Tower Bar is a complete mess and a spot that makes people-watching at other places feel like a waste of time. Spend even an hour here and you’ll see stressed-out momagers sobbing in the corner, the Olsen twins sucking the youth out of anyone who gets too close, and all those agents desperately fishing their burner phones out of the pool. Drinking martinis is the only way to make sense of it all.
Musso & Frank has been open for a century and is one of the only restaurants in town where fannypack-ed tourists and old men complaining about Eisenhower’s foreign policy live in complete harmony. To put it frankly, this Hollywood steakhouse is one of the most bizarre restaurants in LA, and while you don’t need to rush to eat any of the food, sitting at the bar and drinking the most iconic martini in LA is a must. Stirred and served with a sidecar on chilled ice, it’s a technically perfect martini that’s been served the same way for decades, and one that makes gravity tricky after just half a glass.
If you know about The Dresden, you almost certainly know about Marty and Elayne, the iconic jazz duo who have been performing at this Los Feliz institution every week since the early ’80s. And while the singing legends are the reason people pack the place every night, the Vesper martini is the reason they stay. Perfectly balanced with gin, vodka, and a lemon twist garnish, this definitely isn’t a briny martini, but it is a fantastic one, served in a setting where smug looks are openly welcomed.
The art of glaring at people while drinking martinis was invented at airports, so we would be remiss if we didn’t include a place inside LAX. While there’s no shortage of spots to pick up a strong martini in the “horseshoe of death,” nothing beats the Petrossian Caviar and Champagne Bar inside Tom Bradley International Terminal. This absurdly overpriced bar is located right off the main concourse and is our favorite place in the world to drink $18 martinis filled with caviar cubes and announce to strangers that we’re f*cking flying to another country tonight.
There are plenty of reasons you need to be eating at Lawry’s - spinning salads, prime rib the size of an infant, and your server who just introduced herself as “Mrs. Butterworth.” But one thing that often gets overlooked is their Meat & Potato martini - Chopin potato vodka, a touch of dry vermouth, and a prime-rib-and-horseradish-stuffed olive garnish. It’s one of the most over-the-top martinis in LA, but in case you couldn’t tell from the chandeliers and giant oil paintings of nondescript monarchs hanging on the walls, that’s the name of the game at this Beverly Hills original.
Sometimes we lie awake at night thinking about how much our lives have benefitted from Jones Hollywood. The casual Italian restaurant on Santa Monica Blvd. is the kind of place you can take anybody for any kind of night, and they’ll walk out happy. But whether you’re there on a first date, eating late-night pizza with friends, or trying to find the right ice-breaker for that person standing at the bar, ordering The Dirty Sue martini is a requirement. It’s briny, olive-y, and the exact amount of liquid encouragement you need to land that ice-breaker.
As a rule, hotel lobby bars only exist for two things: Having affairs and scowling at people. For the purposes of this list, we’re focusing on the latter. MiniBar is an excellent ground-floor bar inside the Best Western in Franklin Village, and one of our favorite places to drink in the neighborhood. The tiny space looks like members-only club in a 1960s airport, and while you probably won’t find any eligible pilots on a layover, you will find The Bernard, a modern martini that comes garnished with a pickled mushroom, a twist, and one salt-cured olive.
There isn’t a cocktail we love drinking more with actual ghosts than a martini, and that’s why you’ll often find us at Geoffrey’s. This sprawling seafood graveyard on the far end of the Malibu coastline has been around since the 1940s, and at one point, counted Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and JFK as regulars. We not saying you’ll be visited by one of them after a few rounds of martinis (there’s an entire martini menu), but we’re not not saying that, either. If you get hungry, go for the grab cakes, which might not attract any spirits, but are still really good.
Yes, Soho House is a members-only club, but if you live in LA for even a summer, you’ll end up at their West Hollywood location eventually. Just don’t let anyone tell you this bi-level rooftop is for actually getting work done - it’s not. It’s for well-dressed rich kids with underwhelming IMDb pages to stand around on Friday nights and lie about how many auditions they went on this month. It’s a soul-crushing atmosphere to be sure, but one that can be mitigated by sliding up to the bar, ordering a shockingly well-made gin martini, and judging the sh*t out every person you recognize from yesterday’s callback.
Plain and simple, there’s no place in LA - or the world - like the Magic Castle. This membership-only magician’s club/dinner theater in Hollywood is famously inaccessible (you can only get in if you get invited by a member, a.k.a. a magician), but if you’re able to score a reservation, prepare to embark on a wild night of up-close magic, talking mechanical owls, and fiercely strong cocktails. While their Old Fashioned (named in honor of member Neil Patrick Harris) will always be the house specialty, don’t skip the Manifesto Martini. Not only does it have Jägermeister in it, there’s a high chance that the guy making it for you has a bird of prey hiding in his jacket.
On a list full of some of the most iconic restaurants in LA, Freedman’s is a newcomer. Open only since 2017, this Silver Lake strip-mall spot is serving upscale Jewish comfort food in a space that looks like a grandmother’s basement in Boca. The menu includes everything from classic dishes like matzo ball soup and smoked fish plates to oxtail pierogies and trout roe popovers - and everything is excellent. But on those days when sh*t hits the fan and everything in our bodies hurt, you will find us planted at the bar, drinking one of their tremendous martinis, and throwing visual daggers at anyone who tries to stop us.
Walking into Chez Jay is like walking into a functioning time machine - one that sends you back to Santa Monica in the early ’60s. There are peanut shells on the floor, a jukebox that doesn’t play anything newer than Earth, Wind & Fire, and a giant fish hanging on the wall that’s definitely staring at you. It’s one of the Westside’s most iconic watering holes, and a place where actual pirates go to load up on (really strong) martinis, bark indecipherably at the TV, and stumble back out into reality several hours later.