Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Demise of the Martini

I learned to like martinis from my dad. He could shake up the perfect martini for a pre-dinner cocktail and make it look easy as pie. I think that's part of what made it easy to drink, too. Now, I'm talking about real martinis--with gin and vermouth and olives--not these silly fake ones that they call martinis. It's often difficult nowadays to get an original martini at a restaurant or bar. They keep trying to pass off drinks with chocolate, pomegranate, lemonade, and who knows what else as martinis. They often have no "real" martini on the "martini menu." How did this happen?

I blame it on marketing, of course. (Sorry, Jack.) People like the "idea" of a martini. They like the sound of it. They like the fancy glass it is served in. And they like sweet and pretty drinks for nine or more bucks each. Yes, it's the "martini personalized experience" that people want, not the gin, vermouth, and olives.

So, I find it hard to get a real martini these days. More often than not, the bartender messes it up and I have to return it. It started a few years ago at a so-called American on-base bar in Sigonella, Sicily. Unfortunately, the bartenders were Italian. They used sweet vermouth instead of dry and had no olives to boot! I got fed up, went to the commissary and came back with a jar. At that time, I forgave them, for they were Italians, and what did they know about martinis? I found that several of my female friends there were also martini lovers, AND they knew how to make them perfectly! So we had several TGIF "real martini" parties in Sicily, complete with the vermouth sprayer, chilled glasses, gin, and, of course, olives! (See photos!)

Recently, I've had to send back a lot of martinis, it seems. One place gave me just gin (no vermouth or olives). Others fail to add the olives (it's not a martini without). Many forget the "rocks" and try to serve it to me "up," which is never what I order. So, what is it? Untrained bartenders? Inattentive waitpeople? I'm not being clear? I would estimate the amount of time I actually get what I ordered on the first try to be about 50%. So, not only is it hard to find a "real" martini, but it's as hard to get one!

1 comment:

  1. In old age I have become a Vodka Martini drinker – I like “dirty” Vodka Martinis , which is 4 oz. of Quality Vodka (I prefer Grey Goose), a splash of olive juice from the olive jar (I often have to explain this to bartenders), and at least 3 olives. Yes, the olives are what make it a Martini, if it had pickled onions it would be a Gibson. I have paid as much as $17 for a drink at the Four Seasons in Northwest DC , and as little as $5 at a local dive during happy hour. And, I agree with you, I HATE the frou-frou girlie drinks made with apple juice, Godiva chocolate, and even strawberries!! I want hard liquor untainted by sugar! You are so fortunate to Martini drinking buddies!! Joan