Being a native Louisianan, I'm naturally drawn to three things: alcohol, drama and politics. I'm also into romanticized symbols of the South, so walking around downtown on a recent Sunday night, I had to check out The Magnolia Hotel (1100 Texas, 713-221-0011). On the way up to the bar, which is on the second floor, I couldn't help but notice how swank the entire place is. It's as if Eurway met The Mink, they had a well-lit baby, and they called it Magnolia. It struck me as the kind of place where you would take a first date if you wanted to go for something suggestive. Is it just me, or do hotels and sex seem to go hand in hand? After checking out the quirky milk-and-cookie buffet and the fully stocked library, I introduced myself to a friendly bartender named Natalie and ordered up the most ostentatious thing I could see on the menu: the Elite dirty martini. At $14 a pop, it's not the sort of drink you want to down quickly or frequently. But by trading quantity for quality, you get the best 'tini in town, made with a special type of Stoli vodka that's available only in large cosmopolitan test markets like Houston. How could you not love living in this city?
4 ounces Stoli Elite vodka
1 ounce olive juice
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Fill one-fourth of a shaker with cracked ice, add vodka and toss in olive juice and vermouth. Shake vigorously, then let stand for 30 seconds. Carefully strain into a martini glass. Remember to put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and to cancel your wake-up call.