Restaurant Review; Drago Ristorante, Los Angeles, CA

Lets see …. I’ve done reviews of Airport restaurants (P.F. Chang’s), restaurants on barques (Moshulu), and restaurants in casinos (Red Oak) and train stations (Traxx).  Steakhouses, Italian, Chinese, Seafood, and lounges that don’t even serve food.  So clearly I have no fear of venturing off the beaten path, so to speak.  What’s next?  How about a museum cafe?  That’s sound different, right?

The other weekend I found myself at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles where they had a Ferrari special going on.   No, not to buy, but to see.  Actually, it was the free “Enzo Ferrari Birthday Cruise-In” and it was indeed impressive.  Finishing an exhaustive review of these fine cars I went looking for some refreshment and a place to sit.

Having been through many museums in my life across several continents, I had in mind a crowded cafe with a long line of people waiting, tray in hand, to proceed through a serve yourself counter displaying the usual assortment of packaged sandwiches, sodas, fruit plates, quick (& queasy) deserts, and expensive beers or wines.  If I was lucky there might be a short order cook taking orders for burgers, dogs, and fries.   But I was parched and resigned to my fate.

But no!  Not here.   Here there is Drago Ristorante, a full on sit-down take-my-order restaurant.   The only semblance to my preconceived notions was a bit of a line at the hostess station.  I quickly bypassed that and headed directly to the bar.   Yes a real bar.   With real liquor, a nice selection of wine, and beer on tap.

The food that I tried was very good.  And there were items on the menu that I didn’t try that really caught my eye.  Such as “Gnocchi di Patate al Nero di Seppie” and “Spaghetti a I Frutti di Mare”, to give you a quick sampling.   I certainly look forward to trying additional items in the future.  And this really makes Drago a bit different, and special.

If I was in the neighborhood for any reason and was hungry and looking for a place to eat.   I would have no issue with heading over to the Petersen Museum just to eat at Drago.   Whether or not I was going to enter the Museum, which, by the way is truly impressive.

Finally, yes, the Martini was really very good!   Very much in keeping with the concept that this is a full on restaurant and not a inexpensive museum soda bar.  It was nicely mixed with the right amount of Vermouth for my ‘dry’ preference.  The stem was well chilled and the Martini well shaken.  The bartender was professional and courteous and the serving ample.

Overall Drago gets one stem.  Martini Glass Upright

I would make a trek to Drago for the food, ambiance, and Martini.  But not for the Martini alone.

Now for Gin Selection:  Sadly, Drago only gets a C-
Their selection includes Tanqueray, Tanqueray 10, Bombay Sapphire, and Beefeater.  That’s it.  At the moment.   In my conversations with the GM there I believe that this selection will expand in the future, I do hope so.   I’ll provide an updated review when, and if, I witness this improvement.

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If you’re curious about what one vs. two stems means,
I refer you to the following:
*****   Rating Definitions   ****

The Perfect Martini Process, V2.0


I wrote The Perfect Martini Process, V1.0 back in November of 2015, though it didn’t have the “V1.0” notation back then.  Since then, I’ve been thinking that it really needed an update to make it more readable, logically organized, and visually appealing.

So I’ve created “V2.0”.   The information and process hasn’t significantly changed, but has been tweaked – just a bit.  So here we go!

TAPS Martini


Since this blog has existed, I’ve advocated and supported the concept that your Perfect Martini is just that, yours.  My Perfect Martini is mine.  And the two may not be identical.   What is important is that we find that which works for each of us.

Having said that, in fairness, I thought it time to share what I believe works best for me.  Interestingly over the course of the last years researching for this blog and writing about Martinis and Martini Preparation my taste has ‘evolved’.  My preference has moved a bit drier and I’m garnishing with a twist much more often.  Lime if available.

Note that the title of this post is Martini Process, not recipe.   The recipe is important, of course, and will be presented in it’s place.  But the components of the recipe can be thrown together in many ways, each of which may result in a different tasting experience.

The  components in a chocolate cake can be assembled and cooked in many ways but I strongly suspect that the results of many of those permutations would be far from palatable.    The process is critical.

Advanced Preparation:

The entire Martini Making process starts with advanced preparation. And by ‘advance’ I mean several hours ahead of time.   If you want that Martini immediately upon your arrival at home after a long day at the office, then this should be done in the morning before you leave.   Or, better yet, the night before.

Put your favorite bottle of Gin and your Martini stem in the freezer and the vermouth in the refrigerator, if it isn’t already.  Vermouth should always be stored in the fridge.  See Vermouth Storage? if you want to know more about that.

IF you use a massive (heavy) shaker, that should go in the freezer too.

You may have a collection of gins and can’t (or don’t want) to put all the bottles in the freezer.  What I do is transfer enough gin for a couple martinis from the lager bottles into smaller glass containers and put them in the freezer.   Properly marked, of course.  ( I buy smaller bottles of the same brand of gin for use in the freezer.  Sapphire goes in to Sapphire, Aviation into Aviation, etc. )

If you’re making Martinis for a group and you have lots of stems with little freezer space, at least make room for them in the fridge.

Immediate Pre-Processing:

Make the twist.
I always prepare the twist before the martini so that the martini doesn’t wait, and get warm, if the twist is crafted at the end of the process.  No, the twist will not wilt or dry out in the 90 seconds or so that it takes you to make the Martini!  It will be just fine waiting for its grand entry at the end of the process.

This goes for olives too, if you prefer them; spear them before starting the martini.

The Recipe:

3 ounces of your favorite Gin,
(That’s 6 tablespoons or 3/8 cup if you don’t have a jigger.)
1/2 ounce of Dry Vermouth, and
(Or fill the cap from the Vermouth bottle,)
a lemon or lime twist.

Final Processing:

Making the Martini proper.  Fill the shaker with about a cup of cold ice.   (See Cold Ice Please! for comments and description of “Cold Ice”).  Take the Vermouth and put that in the shaker with the cold ice.  Swirl or shake the Vermouth and ice briefly and then drain the Vermouth.  Keep the ice, of course.

Next put your Gin into the shaker.  Shake the shaker vigorously for about 10 seconds.   10 seconds is all you need as the liquids have already been chilled.  Any more than 10 seconds and your just working your biceps, triceps, and delts.

At this point I’m reminded of the following quote from ‘The Thin Man’:
“See, in mixing the important thing is the rhythm. Always have a rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan, you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time. But a Martini, you always shake to waltz time.”  Nick Charles

Does shaking to 3/4 time really help?  I have no clue, but it sure makes the process more fun.

Now, quickly remove the Martini stem from the freezer and strain the Martini from the shaker into the Stem.  Take the twist and lightly run the rind around the edge of the stem, squeeze a bit of the oils into the liquid, and drop it gently into the Martini.

That’s it, you’re done.  Now on to the best part.


Finally take the Martini out to the porch, sit comfortably, look at the sunset over the beach or the pool, and enjoy the Perfect Martini.

Enjoying a Martini at Sunset overlooking the ocean.

Summer Evening Martini