Okay, so I didn’t actually drink 100 martinis. If I had, you would have just cause to use this blog post as part of a necessary intervention. But last Wednesday I did go to a special evening that featured 100 different martini recipes: the Sipsmith 100 Martini Bar. Don’t worry, I only tried two.
It was a little weird that I went along to this at all, actually, as I am really not into martinis or mixed drinks in general. I’m much more a beer or wine kinda gal – liquors just not really my thing, save for a G&T or margarita here and there. But Louise and a couple of friends were going, so I said why not? It was billed as something of an event, so I was intrigued.
So what made it more than just a bar with an extensive martini list? The experience, obvs!
First, the environment was retro and cool. The dark paneled walls; mismatched, crowded seating; leafy ferns; dim candlelight; and bright, semi-circular, Art Deco-style bar gave the whole place a private library meets speakeasy kind of feel.
While the ambience was very early 20th century, the ordering process was very early 21st century. We were handed an iPad, from which we placed our orders. We could choose via an “I’m Feeling Lucky” option, which would randomly bring up three martinis that we could choose between, or via a short questionnaire that asked us personality-type questions and then would spit out three suggestions based on our answers. You could always start over if you weren’t happy with the choices. Once we had made our choice, we made it official by entering our names.
I went with the quiz option. The questions were of the really leading variety, like the kind you get in teen magazine quizzes. You know the kind I mean…the ones where the answers clearly point to specific “types” like the popular girl, the sporty girl, the smart girl? So if you answer “What’s your favorite thing to do on your own?” with “Read a book”, and “What do you look for in a guy?” with “Intelligence”, you’ll end up with a result that tells you to join the debate team or to go for quiet, aloof guy – he’s misunderstood! he has hidden depths! you’ll have intellectually stimulating conversations! – or something equally pigeon-holed.
Aaaaaaanyways, my leading questions led me to choose a martini called the Millionaire. What does that say about me? I’m a gold digger? Guilty.
Once everyone had chosen, the iPad was collected and we waited patiently for our drinks. Patience was required as it took quite awhile for them to arrive. But when they did arrive, that’s when the real fun began! See, they didn’t come to our table already made. No, no, no. The drink makers (bartenders? mixologists? cocktail dudes?) wheeled a little trolley over to our table with all the necessary ingredients and made our drinks right in front of us! While teaching us things (education!) like the history of the drink and the different types of gin/vermouth/whathaveyou that they were using.
My drink didn’t actually come from the trolley above (but note the ice in the glasses to keep them chilled!), as mine was neither shaken nor stirred as one might expect. Rather, all the alcohol for mine was poured straight into the glass. I listened closely and memorized the recipe for the Millionaire, which was not hard as it boils down to three ingredients::
Here you can see the dude finishing it off with the floater:
And that’s it, people. No garnish; no fancy cocktail-making flair; no nothing. Just alcohol. And it’s purposefully layered so that as you drink it the flavor changes. I was skeptical about this whole layering thing. Surely it would all just mix together once it was in the glass, right? Wrong! As I sipped and progressed through the glass, the flavor definitely changed. Very interesting.
I also learned during the making of mine that vermouth is a fortified wine, so – much like any wine – it will go off after awhile. Obviously, this doesn’t happen as quickly as regular wine, but it shouldn’t be kept in your liquor cabinet for forever. Apparently, it will last for about a month without any ill effects, and then it will start to slowly go off. So there’s a tip for ya.
Everyone else’s martini had more visual interest than mine. They were all fun colors and had some sort of garnish. I didn’t really listen to any of their recipes, though, so I can’t tell you much about them. I do know that Lou’s was called the Suffragette (which just makes me want to break into song), but that’s about all I know.
We sat and sipped and chatted and had a grand old time. As we all liked our first choices pretty well, we decided to go for a second round. Mistake. Our second choices were just NOT as good.
I went for the Princeton, partially because “Hey! My dad went to Princeton!”, but also because it sounded good. It had port, and I was intrigued by how the sweetness of port would taste with gin. The answer is: really not great. And SUPER SUPER SUPER strong. It was literally just gin and port with a little twist of orange peel that basically did nothing. It tasted like paint thinner. I couldn’t finish it.
Generally, we were all dissatisfied with our second choices. Oh well. The first ones were good, and overall, it still made for an out-of-the-ordinary (in a good way) Wednesday night.
*And this is definitely just a post about my experience, not an affiliate post.