Mid-Century modern-inspired Nic’s Beverly Hills is the kind of dining and drinking destination that would delight Don Draper and his Madison Avenue mad men.
I would have made a terrible Don Draper. Beyond the obvious actuality that I’m not the reigning ad man (and ladies man) of Madison Avenue, there’s another hitch: the three-martini lunch. I adore this classic cocktail… cold, crisp, clean, smooth and nuanced. But three in one sitting, especially at noon? How can anyone function after that, let alone come up with brilliant advertising concepts?
The British novelist Somerset Maugham said, “A martini should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously on top of one another.” Well, when you put it that way, I quite like the idea of stirring things up. And there’s no better setting for all things shaken and stirred than the swanky, retro-cool Nic’s Beverly Hills, where you can channel the Mad Men era in a sumptuous banquette beneath the warm glow of sparkling chandeliers.
The show’s cast of characters may well have inspired Nic’s extensive martini menu. Roger Sterling, the founding partner in the fictional firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, is known for such dialog gems as, “When God closes a door, he opens a dress.” I’m fairly certain Roger would flash a dazzling smile and order the “What a Nice Pear You Have” made with Grey Goose Le Poire Vodka, pear juice and shaved Parmesan — that’s right, as in cheese.
Maybe you’re more of the sultry, sexy Joan Holloway type, who insisted, “My mother raised me to be admired.” If the idea of bypassing the glass ceiling by way of the executive elevator is your style, you’ll want to try “From Russia with Love,” made with Jewel of Russia Vodka, fresh strawberries and a Champagne float.
Whatever your personality, your palate, or favorite Mad Men character, Nic’s mixologists will skillfully prepare a martini to your liking. Whether you’re a purist who prefers a traditional martini (four parts gin and one part dry vermouth), a vodka-phile, or mad for mod martinis, they’ll tweak to please.
Although you may come for the cocktails, if you’re wise you’ll stay for the food. Nic’s is one of those places where every item on the menu sounds so good that it takes a while to decide what’s for dinner. Oh, steak tartare! And vodka-cured salmon on pumpernickel-raisin crostini! Wait, what about lavender-infused duck breast? Fortunately, I had a very patient, charming and handsome dinner date. Why rush when I could prolong the enjoyment of all this deliciousness? And by that I mean the meal AND the man.
He elected to only order drinks and dishes named after Nic’s proprietor Larry Nicola, and that strategy served him well. He began with the simply perfect signature cocktail, “Nic’s Martini,” pristinely smooth Beluga Vodka straight up with a gigantic, plump olive. Next, we shared “Nic’s Oysters,” a unique starter of Fanny Bay oysters sautéed with spinach, dressed with a creamy garlic sauce and topped with crunchy walnuts. This was followed by the fresh and fabulous “Nico’s Salad,” a cool mix of chopped Verdolaga (a popular salad green in France), tomato, cucumber and Feta with lemon mint dressing.
At this point I assumed my dapper date would continue his streak by ordering “Nic’s Burger.” No dice. Instead, he chose the pan-seared filet mignon, even though he couldn’t keep his hands off the crispy pommes frites that accompanied my rib eye. I didn’t mind. As long as he kept offering me delicious bites of filet drenched in a divine blueberry sauce, I was not going to mourn the loss of a few potatoes.
We flirted with the idea of drinkable dessert (yes, there are sweet martinis on the dessert menu with cheeky names like “Lady Godiva Rides Through Sweden”) as a sultry lounge singer began crooning tunes from another era. The combination of her breathy vocals, the steamy supper club vibe and my date’s seductive, Saturday-night smile made me want to order another ice-cold cocktail and turn up the heat.
Then I remembered Mad Men’s at-first innocent and now much wiser Peggy Olson. Calling out the rampant double standard of that day, Peggy quipped, “Why is it that whenever a man takes you to lunch around here, you’re the dessert?”
It’s not the 1960s, I thought, and encouraged my date to have dessert. Coffee, tea, martini or me? We’ll never sip and tell.
Copyright © Michelle Gigon / 2013 Singular Communications, LLC.
453 North Cañon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4819
Monday-Wednesday 4pm to Midnight
Thursday-Saturday 4pm to 2am
Singular magazine Mad Men Party
You’re invited to join us for a Mad Men-themed cocktail party at Nic’s Beverly Hills on Thursday, May 23.
The fun starts promptly at 7 p.m. where for the first hour we’ll enjoy complimentary tray passed appetizers and a special 1960s priced Mad Men cocktail: blood orange macerated vodka with citrus soda and a splash of blood orange and tangerine juice poured over crushed ice for only $2.50.
Everyone gets to visit Nic’s VODBOX for a FREE shot of freezing cold vodka. The VODBOX is the ultimate walk-in, drink-in exhibitionist freezer designed solely for the enjoyment of vodka in its purest form.
Wait, there’s more! You’ll enjoy deeply discounted Mad Men drink specials like “What a Nice Pear You Have,” “Lemon Drop Blush” and “Goose Me” all for just $7. Don Draper would thoroughly approve!
Still hungry? From 8-9 p.m. Nic’s is offering our Singular guests a 20 percent discount for any items ordered from the dinner menu.
Mad Men-themed attire is encouraged but not required. Find us in the V-Zone (right by the VODBOX) and get there early to enjoy the $2.50 cocktail and free appetizers!
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