It's hard to mess with a martini. Like a manhattan or an old-fashioned, the martini is a work of art on its own; any alteration—we're looking at you, appletini—often takes away from the simplistic beauty of the drink. But change is good, and some of the best cocktail bars in LA are livening up the drink by turning the martini on its head. The next time you're stuck in a cocktail rut, head to one of these spots for a non-classic version of the martini.
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Best non-classic martinis in LA
"I always come up with one out-there cocktail," says Ryan Wainwright when talking about his seasonal drink menus. The director of bar programs for the Bombet Hospitality Group (Terrine, Viviane, Faith & Flower, Hanjip) has concocted plenty of inventive libations since Terrine opened, but the latest is a real beauty: a Chocolate "Martini," made with Wheatley vodka, Dolin Blanc vermouth and Giffard Blanc crème de cacao. The cherry on top is, actually, on the bottom, and it's not a cherry at all. Instead, imbibers will find a housemade chocolate bonbon waiting patiently at the bottom of their glass—a delightful treat once you've finished the equally delightful drink.
If you're coming to Nic's Beverly Hills for one thing—and one thing only—it's probably for the vodka. Nic's has a lot of it, including an entire menu dedicated to vodka martinis. On it you'll find everything from the Tangerine Dream (Soyombo vodka with tangerine juice, vanilla and toasted anise) to the Latin Lover (infused chili vodka, olive brine and jalapeño-stuffed olives), but one of our favorites is the Whipitgood Mr. Pineapple. Made with Pinnacle Whipped vodka for a smooth finish, the whimsical drink also includes fresh pressed pineapple and orange zest for a tart edge.
Take a trip back to the '60s and drink like you have a first-class ticket in hand at this snazzy, aeronautical-themed West Hollywood boîte. While a classic martini may have been the choice in-flight drink back then, we're pretty sure the Porn Star would have held up, too. Roger Room vet Will Figueroa's drink program includes this sexy variation, made with Russian Standard vodka, passionfruit and lime. It's served with a shot of champagne, because it's classy like that.
Osteria La Buca's variation on a martini, The Zorin, is quite the wordly cocktail. The savory drink uses Polugar, a Russian bread wine, as its base, coupled with Italian liqueur Amaro Montenegro, Dolin Blanc vermouth, cardamom syrup and a lemon twist. It's an easy-drinking cocktail, at once sweet and bitter, and perfect for pairing with one of Osteria's standout plates of pasta.
Whether you're perched on the patio at Saint Felix's West Hollywood location or jostling for a booth at the Hollywood spot, you'll likely be in for a night of excellent drinking. And if you're fixated on a sweet cocktail, the Chocolate Roux Martini is bound to hit all the right notes. Chocolate vodka, white chocolate liqueur, banana, butterscotch and chocolate swirls fill the glass as if Willy Wonka himself was behind the bar. Topped off with chocolate shavings, it's a drink that's meant to be savored before you start bouncing off the walls from a sugar high.