When the after-work drink morphed into happy hour, a marvelous institution was created. What could be better? You are going to drink anyway, and the drinks are cheaper. But if you’re a traditional gin martini drinker, things can get dicey. For one thing, the “martini” has somehow transmogrified into a galaxy of frou-frou cocktails concocted of various suspicious colors and contents whose only familial relationship to a genuine martini is the stemmed glass in which these ridiculous beverages are criminally served. And the dreadful vodka martini? The less said about it the better, and that onus falls squarely on your shoulders, Fleming.
All of which brings me to happy hour at Wolfgang’s Steak House in Beverly Hills. Here, happy hour starts at the civilized hour of 4, the restaurant’s bar is long and accommodating, the bartenders are professional, and the well gin used for happy hour is Bombay Sapphire. I will at a later time wax poetic about my love affair with Sapphire, but for now let me give a shout out to places like Wolfgang’s that use great gin in a happy hour bargain martini (Wolfgang’s is seven bucks and you get free house-made chips and superb happy hour-priced food).
So that blustery face you see is Liam, one of the Wolfgang’s barkeeps , not long after he has served me my martini. Let me share what he shouted at me in his foghorn voice not too long ago as I grinned over my martini. “I’m Irish and I’m a bartender. What a surprise.”