Martini Madness


The cockiest of cocktails gets special treatment around town

martini.jpgNikita Khrushchev once called it “America’s lethal weapon.” Potent indeed, you might say that one of the reasons the martini is so popular is that it does come full, quite full, of your choice of vodka or gin. But is the martini a cocktail that’s also full of itself? Perhaps a better question is, why wouldn’t it be? The martini does seem to get preferential treatment. Besides the fact that it has something of a cult following, what other cocktail comes with its own specialized equipment—shakers and pitchers, specially shaped glasses? And those glasses! It’s almost as if the exaggerated widening of the brim was designed specifically to get the martini the respect it deserves. There will be no ‘slinging ‘em back.’ No, no. One must take extra care not to slosh the liquored liquid onto oneself, a feat that requires a very slow and deliberate lift to the lips, especially on the first few precious sips.

To be sure, the classic concoction will always be in demand, but sometimes there’s more to a martini than olives and vermouth. Here are some interesting variations we found around town.

Blackberry Martini

Rivaling the blithe decadence of the ample Art Deco mahogany bar where it rests between sips, the Blackberry Martini at the Bank Café is every bit the summer stunner. The drink, created by the restaurant’s owner, Alex Kelly, is a mixture of premium vodka, muddled fresh blackberries, simple syrup and a dash of sweet vermouth. Try it with Chef Aaron Burgau’s duck confit salad with spinach, frisée and phyllo-wrapped brie.


What kind of martini goes with sushi? A Saketini. A cocktail made with rice wine instead of vodka or gin makes perfect sense, especially if you’re looking for something a little less potent. At Rock-n-Sake, they do a classic martini preparation, but the main ingredient is a premium sake like Hakutsuru.

Grand Melon Martini

Backlit in a blue hue, the bar at the Whiskey Blue is swankier than swank. One of the best things about it, says manager Lane MacDougall, is the specialty cocktail menu that changes every month. The Grapefruit Basil Limeade is especially refreshing, but on the matter of martinis, MacDougall recommends the Grand Melon Martini: Bacardi Grand Melon rum, Cointreau, and pineapple juice. Alo-HA!

Chocolate Martini

Being admirably abstemious, you skip dessert after dinner, but your sweet tooth has a type A personality. Worry not! You can multi-task with Monkey Hill’s Chocolate Martini, a night cap and dessert in one. They start with chocolate flavored vodka and then add Dark Crème de Cocoa, Godiva Dark Chocolate liqueur and a strong splash of milk.