The “mystery restaurant” where Wes ended up taking me for my 2005 birthday dinner was Lucques in West Hollywood, which pleased me no end. The food was fabulous, as were the drinks — the bar there is no slouch, and this was before the L.A. cocktail renaissance took off.
This was a suggestion from the bartender, one of their house specialty cocktails.
The Harold Lloyd Cocktail
3 ounces Hendrick’s Gin.
1/4 ounce dry vermouth.
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth.
Stir for no less than 30 seconds, until ice-cold.
Garnish with a cucumber slice.
We loved this. Does anybody remember what a Perfect Martini is anymore? If you do, how many times have you said to a bartender, “I’ll have a Perfect Martini please,” only to have him haughtily reply, “All my Martinis are perfect!”
No no no, silly sod; a Perfect Martini is one that uses half sweet and half dry vermouth, instead of all dry. Perhaps the reason why most people don’t know this is that most people have forgotten that a Martini has vermouth in in. All this horseshit about waving the closed bottle of vermouth over the shaker has nothing to do with a Martini, and has everything to do with drinking cold gin, up. That ain’t a Martini. A Martini has vermouth in it. Period. QED. I have spoken.
Hendrick’s Gin, if you’re not yet familiar with it, is a wonderful, hand-crafted small-batch gin made in Scotland, and has amongst its unusual mix of botanicals an infusion of rose petals and cucumber, giving it a unique flavor that I happen to love. We’d made regular Martinis with it, not wanting that unique flavor to get too lost in a cocktail, but had never tried it as a Perfect Martini before. That, combined with the cucumber slice and the nifty name, has made us big fans of this drink, named after the silent movie star in whose former carriage house the restaurant is housed. Safety last!
So what, it’s basically just a Perfect Martini made with Hendrick’s and garnished with a cucumber slice, right? But the cucumber-rose elements of the gin plus the aroma of that garnish really do make this a different experience, and I would argue that the drink deserves its own name. Besides, anyone serving interesting Perfect Martini variations as a house cocktail in 2005, when even top-notch restaurants like Patina and Spago were churning out disgustingly sweet liqueur-filled concoctions as their house cocktails gets to name their drinks whatever they want.