Stirred and Shaken
Morton's is an institution. The high-end chain began in Chicago and spread across the United States and abroad, opening up steak shops as far away as Sydney, Australia. The Beverly Hills Morton's is a sort of Spago lite for the movie biz meat-eater set. The Morton's Web site lists the Wall Street location as closed indefinitely.
The Houston branch (5000 Westheimer, 713-629-1946) is a sort of steak guy's Marfreless -- a place for those in the know rather than the madding crowd. There are large black-and-white photographs of United States presidents in the deserted hall. A rumble of carnivores comes from behind an unmarked door. I enter and turn right into the bar. There, Christopher Fleming is whirling like a dervish, whipping up drinks for the Tuesday-night crowd. I order his signature classic dry "Mortini."
Fleming puts a martini glass in front of me that is cloudy with ice particles. A few degrees lower, and we could be discussing the core of a comet in the Oort Cloud. It is a species of martini perfection: cold, but warming when imbibed; dry as Arctic wind, but moist with the possibilities a good cocktail inspires.
3 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
A touch of olive pickling liquid
A touch of Martini & Rossi Extra Dry white vermouth
Shake the ingredients with ice until the shaker frosts over. Strain into a frozen martini glass. Skewer two large Spanish pimento-stuffed olives on a toothpick, drop them into the glass and serve. One is enough before dinner.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.