Best Martinis - 2011
Mancini's Char House & Lounge
We're not talking here about frou-frou "martinis" featuring sweet flavors and bright colors. (Not this year, anyway.) When you want a good, old-fashioned, reliable version of this simple cocktail, it's best to find a good, old-fashioned, reliable venue in which to drink it. Mancini's has been just such a place since 1948. The expansive dining rooms and well-charred steaks eaten in them are no slouches, but the huge lounge area is truly special. It's easy to picture Don Draper and his cohorts throwing back drinks in one of the large half-oval banquette booths facing the bar (two levels of them provide easy viewing of the entire room). Wednesdays through Saturdays you can catch a live band playing bygone hits, while other nights patrons take to the mic, singing karaoke tunes you won't likely hear anywhere else. Though the room is impressive, the crowd is usually decidedly unfancy, and the friendly Mancini family members in charge of the place will make sure you're comfortable. And as for your martini? Well, the bartenders here will not screw it up, and likely neither will you, even on your third, because the drink is served in a squat, flat-bottomed glass that still has the correct martini-glass-shaped bowl but is much harder to accidentally knock over than the long-stemmed variety.