January 15, 1947, Elizabeth Short’s naked body was discovered on a vacant lot near Leimert Park in downtown Los Angeles, by a mother with a young child, her body surgically bisected, horribly mutilated, and posed. Her body was severed in half at the waist. Both halves were drained of blood and washed. 22 year-old Elizabeth Short came from Massachusetts to Hollywood to be a star. Her hair and clothes were always black, she wore a dahlia in her hair, so she was known as “The Black Dahlia” She was last seen as she stepped from an auto in front of LA’s Biltmore Hotel. (Karisable.com)
So, of course, the Biltmore has a martini named in her honor. The Black Dahlia – A Mysterious Dark Martini With a Legendary Past – is 31/2 ounces of Absolut Citron vodka, one-half shots of Chambord raspberry liqueur and kahlua, topped with a coil of orange rind.
The Biltmore may have been where Short was last seen, but she was always at Boardner’s, the WOW hangout on Cherokee Avenue at Hollywood Boulevard. Short lived up the street in a women’s boarding house. In an old interview with Steven Mikulan, Steve Boardner remembered Short as someone who often showed up at his place with a couple of sailors in tow and drank whatever was cheap. “She’d come over here from Bradley’s Five & Ten,” he said, “which sold short beers for a nickel, longs for a dime – and shots of bourbon for 15 cents.” Boardner’s co-owner, Tricia La Belle told Mikulan in the LA Weekly that the bar features two Black Dahlia martinis: an “old-timers” for the day crowd, and a “nighttime” for the later crowd.
The first version, a decades-old favorite that goes for $10 a pop, is a shot of Blavod vodka (the black-hued liquor that goes into many another Black Dahlia), triple sec and Chambord — and garnished with cherries on a skewer that, in its own Grand Guignol way, makes more sense than an orange peel. . . . Boardner’s night clientele is generally much younger than the day shift of drinkers, and for them bartender Kelly McCann concocted a $12 Dahlia with Stoli vanilla vodka, Chambord and Kahlua. It’s been around for about half a dozen years, roughly the time when Elizabeth Short’s brief life began appearing on hipsters’ radars.