Where To Drink Martinis And Glare At People
14 places in LA where you can drink martinis and judge other people in peace.
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 making out with random people in line for the bathroom. 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 cocktail bar inside LAX, here are the 14 best places in LA to do just that.
photo credit: Matt Gendal
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 likely include shots with the maître d′ 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.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
La Dolce Vita
This guide is filled with iconic places to drink martinis as a general activity, but if you’re looking for the single best martini in LA, it’s the LDV Gibson at La Dolce Vita. Made with Bombay Sapphire, dry vermouth, housemade brine, spicy pickled romanesco, and three drops of black garlic oil dosed out tableside, this drink hits your lips with a texture so silky and smooth you’ll forget you’re drinking a cup of gin in public. The fact that you also get to do it at a revitalized Old Hollywood dining room with leopard print carpet, horse busts, and giant plates of bone-in veal parm, make this spot a no-brainer for martini drinkers.
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Tower Bar is best known for ice cream sundaes and enraged talent agents throwing cellphones into the pool, but this hotel restaurant and 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 an unmitigated joyful 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 Grill
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 Nixon'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 had performed at this Los Feliz institution every week since the early ’80s. Sadly, Marty passed in January 2022, marking the end of an era for the city. However, you can still pay homage to the legendary act by showing up, getting a little rowdy, and drinking the best vesper martini in town. 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.
Lawry's The Prime Rib
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 never-ending dining rooms, that’s the name of the game at this Beverly Hills spot.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
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, 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.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Dear John’s is an Old Hollywood classic in Culver City that, prior to the pandemic, had just reopened after a complete remodel brought the space back to its glorious heyday. Consider this a re-reopening. The place used to be an old hangout for Frank Sinatra, and it’s easy to see why—the drinks are strong, the steak is served a beautiful medium-rare, and the dimly lit interior is the perfect place to burrow into a big red booth and get hammered.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
The party at Mother Wolf in Hollywood starts the second you enter the ballroom-esque dining room. Ornate chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A walk-in bar area makes Sunset Tower look like afternoon tea. More famous faces than a White Lotus wrap party fill round pink booths. It feels part Las Vegas, part Carbone, and part Roman banquet hall—all crammed inside the Madonna Inn. The only way to make sense of it all—in between rounds of cacio e pepe and all'amatriciana—is to drink martinis. While the cocktail menu doesn’t have one listed specifically, just call your preferred liquor and before you know it a crisp, undented martini will appear before your eyes.
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’re 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 crab cakes, which might not attract any spirits, but are still really good.
The Magic Castle
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 also a high chance that the guy making it for you has a bird of prey hiding in his jacket.
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.
The Wine Bar By Wolfgang Puck
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 at LAX. While there’s no shortage of spots to pick up a strong martini in the “horseshoe of death,” The Wine Bar in terminal 6 is a go-to of ours. This relatively affordable bar (for an airport) is located right off the main concourse and is our favorite place in the world to drink $14 martinis filled with pear puree that prove that flying sober is—quite literally—for the birds.