Friday, March 9, 2012

The Tonic Avenger

I love Musso and Frank Grill. It's the Oldest Restaurant in Hollywood and has been in business since 1919. I started going in a couple of years ago, and it was love at first sight. When you enter Musso and Frank, you are instantly whisked away to another era.... dare I say I much more civilized era? I think I had such a strong, all encompassing love for it initially because of sheer nostalgia. It reminds me of the kind of places my parents would take me to in the early 1970's: Those Old School, Upscale restaurants from a bygone era that have largely disappeared. But my true devotion to Musso and Frank has grown over the years because of my fondness for the men that work there. They are a wonderful bunch of characters! I have never visited Musso's without being thoroughly entertained by someone's antics! So, I go back, again and again. At this point, not only do I have "my" bar stool, but I also bake cupcakes for the bartenders on their birthdays, and I set up a Facebook fan site for them. You could call me a regular. :-)

When I started going to Musso's, I was instantly hooked on their classic cocktails. Not only did I have my first *real* Martini there, (I am ashamed to admit this, but before Musso's, I was a tragic figure who was actually under the false impression that vodka could possibly be an ingredient in a Martini!) but I had my first Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Rob Roy and Rusty Nail there! So, it should now be clear why I trusted my good friends at the M&F bar to expertly prepare me a drink with Tonic Water.

I had tasted tonic water 3 times before. Once, in my mid-20's, I sipped someone's Gin and Tonic, and I was horrified! The result of that one sip was that I was under the false impression for over 10 years that I didn't like gin! I never touched gin again, until my first Martini at M&F, when I realized that I actually liked gin very much. Once I knew I liked gin, I got crazy and ordered a Gin and Tonic while on vacation in Montreal. At this point, I was able to understand that the badness in a G&T is the Tonic, and not the gin! I vowed to never touch Tonic Water again! However, last year, some hipster bartender misunderstood what kind of drink I was looking for, and made me a concoction involving gin, tonic and muddled grapes. I was not impressed. So, with my hopes extremely low, I bravely ordered another Gin and Tonic last night, hoping against all hope that the magical bartenders at M&F would have a way to make it palatable. And if it was horrible, at least I would be able to wash the bad taste out of my mouth with one of their delicious Manhattans! Because if I could only drink 1 drink for the rest of my life, it would be a Musso and Frank Manhattan. :-)

You won't believe it, but the Gin and Tonic was ok! After a few sips, I got it. I could see why someone could find this drink to be delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day! Although it could never replace the Manhattan as my drink of choice, I could see enjoying one under certain conditions. And I'm glad I tried!

Next time I am at M&F, I will once again put my fate into the hands of their amazing bartenders, and try some of the other cocktails I am afraid of.... a Bloody Mary (because I know they will let me get away with bringing in my own vegetarian Worcestershire sauce to use in one), a Greyhound and a Salty Dog. If anyone can make me like a cocktail containing tomato or grapefruit juice, it would be those guys!

(Hollywood Blvd in the early 1920's. Musso and Frank is the second on the left. Click photo for a larger version!)

1 comment:

  1. One can only enjoy Gin & Tonic after their 30s...I also had my doubts because I'd tried it once on a friend in my 20s and I couldn't see the point. But last year I started to appreciate different gin types and tonic water types, with more quinine, with less bubbles..I have a PhD now...
    Bloody Mary was also a rediscovery for me a couple of months ago, I asked them to prep it without Worcestershire, so no idea how a complete one will taste. if I go to the UK I'll try to find some.