Martini recipes (and riffs) from this fall’s top bars

The common adage is true for many cocktails: all classics are, eventually, new again. Consider the Martini. Once conjuring up old-fashioned ideas of glamor and indulgence, the symbol of sophistication is now ubiquitous – more popular than ever, one might reasonably argue. Venture into any reputable cocktail bar and you are likely to come across young people in their twenties cradling stemmed glasses filled to the brim with a liquid as brackish and cloudy as seawater or, less often, clear with a zest of lemon.

This is, at least in part, the work of Espresso Martini. Since the sultry drink launched an unplanned comeback last year, inspiring so much disgust as a delight, the drink – along with its extended ‘tini family – has remained ingrained in the collective mind. This path eventually led back to the classic ancestor and its spinoffs. On an average night in Bemelmans, the genteel bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side serves more than 1,000 Martinis, mostly to those who have recently come of age. Generation Z and hot girls, among the most influential voting blocs, issued their unofficial endorsement. The trend is so advanced that ungodly marketing stunts have even started to appear. The most grotesque: theVeltini», a limited edition riff unveiled by Velveeta cheese.

The most compelling and indisputable proof of the drink’s recent unwavering popularity, however, is the number of bartenders toying with its format. While the Dirty Martini may be the concoction du jour, the cocktail landscape is full of interpretations of all kinds, from the cheeky and innovative to the serious and nostalgic. Here’s a look at a few categories that represent the current state of the Martini art, and how and where you’re bound to encounter them this fall.

The OnlyFans Martini at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago | Photo: Lindsay Eberly/Lettuce Entertain You

This is not the first time in history that the Martini has bewitched drinkers. In the 1990s and early 2000s, kitsch martinis – arguably, in name only – proliferated, sparking a sugar-fueled fad. It’s only natural that, in this second wave, bartenders are riffing on the sickening tinis that emerged decades ago, swapping Technicolor liquors and canned fruit juices for more sophisticated ingredients.

To miami beach Sweet Freedomyou will find a number of director of beverages Naren Young’s reinterpretations of Appletini (made with Calvados, fresh green apple juice and apple cider vinegar) and Lemon Drop (lemon juice, curd, bitters and grappa), as well as the best-selling Our Lychee Martini, which Iis based on lychee liqueur, St-Germain and sauvignon blanc. The Appletini, too, has reappeared in Washington DC Silver Lyan, an underground cocktail bar tucked away in a former bank vault. The, internationally renowned bartender Ryan Chetiyawardana mixes with freshly squeezed green apple juice and a touch of jasmine vermouth. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Three dots and a dash sells a current piece on the pornstar martinia passion fruit stop that has become a modern classic (and the the most sought after cocktail of all time). Named OnlyFans Martini, the flavored variation is made with Brazilian cachaça rather than the standard vanilla vodka.

And of course there is the drink that led the resurgence of kitsch. These days, all sorts of dining establishments reserve a place on the menu for Espresso Martini riffs, most of which are shaken with vodka and coffee in one form or another. But not all of them adhere so closely to the formula of the drink. To Pacific Standarda new joint of the famous Portland-based bartenders and longtime business partners Jeffrey Morgenthaler and Benjamin Amberg, the Espresso Martini, with orders limited to two per person, is built on a bold alliance of overproof vodka, Spanish brandy, Kahlúa and cold brew extract.


The Jusanya at the San Francisco Wildhawk | Photo: Aubrie Pick

While the Espresso Martini may have laid the foundation for our current craze, it’s the Dirty Martini that has a tenacious hold on our palate. In some notable tricks, the classic olive defends its rightful territory. To Smokenew Japanese-American spot in Hollywood, the Martini house arrives with a olive pickled in dashi, while in New York of Ernesto, the Basque-inspired restaurant Pintxotini comes topped off with the Spanish staple of skewered anchovy pintxo, piparra (aka guindilla) peppers and olives. It’s a particularly hot topping in Manhattan right now: the two nudibranch and Lobby Lounge at Nine Orchard ends one of their iterations with the same trio.

Elsewhere, the olive has been pushed aside for less traditional sources of umami and salinity. At Bonnie’s, a Cantonese American spot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, dirty martinis are mixed with MSG olive brine, while Thunderbolt’s Liquid Picnic in Los Angeles relies on a gin fortified with tomato, rosemary and black pepper. Lobby Lounge also summons tomato – in this case, clarified tomato water and a heirloom cherry tomato garnish – alongside vodka, celeriac liqueur and celery leaf vinegar for an equally plant called Heirloom Martini. San Francisco’s Wildhawk takes a different approach in its dirty vermouth that replaces sesame-washed fino sherry; at temple bar in New York, Michael McIlroy’s Salt & Pepper Martini adds a layer of heat thanks to Espelette pepper liqueur, alongside manzanilla sherry, saline and celery.

“Our tasty martinis are doing really well at Temple Bar, and we wanted to explore some fun ways to get away from the typical dirty Martini,” says Temple Bar’s head bartender, Sam. Casuga. It’s “still pretty clean”, she adds – “stylish, but adventurous”.

Dukes Martini Lobby Bar NYC

The Dukes Martini at New York’s Lobby Bar | Photo: Eric Medkser

While some bars are escorting the sophisticated Martini into still uncharted territory, others are leaning back to its roots, bringing purist versions of the drink to tables in dedicated Martini sets. To Chelsea Hotel Lobby Bar in Manhattan, bottles of Tanqueray 10 and Ketel One wrapped in ice hit the table when you order a Dukes Martini, an impossibly cold and dry classic born in 1980s London. For nearly a decade now, the Premiere House of Brooklyn waves his Old King Cole Martini before your eyes. And this fall, Le Rock, one of New York’s hottest new restaurantswill also introduce a table service consisting of three frozen Martinis.

While “Martini service” is back on the menu at some bars, more often than not establishments aren’t rolling out the ceremonial cart. As part of Silver Lyan‘s Silver Martini Service, you first choose one of four predefined blends, each representing a “perfect version of some famous Martini variations”, says Chetiyawardana. In addition to the drink, you receive all the standard accessories as well as a freshly shucked oyster. “We also serve them for two people, as it aligns with our long-held view that sharing a Martini with a loved one before dinner is one of life’s perfect moments,” he adds. To the ordinary in Charleston, South Carolina, the Martini Service will treat you to a drink made with “ocean vermouth,” made by steeping fortified wine with dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu, and crushed oyster shells from raw sea bass; standard toppings, as well as local sea beans, arrive on the side, allowing you to build your drink at the table. (While the service has been on the menu for three years, its current form is about a year old.)

Once Bishops and Horses opens in Portland this fall, you too can choose your own adventure. Built on a base of vodka and gin from local Hood River distillers (plus fino sherry and Lillet Blanc), the Martini will hit tables with a whole suite of seasonal garnishes and a house-marinated apple sphere, plus the latter’s marinade liquid. for gilding drinks. “Customers will be able to curate their own experience,” says owner Collin Nicholas. “We give them all the tools they need to create a really solid Martini.”

Grand Martini Martinys

Le Grand Martiny’s at Martiny’s in New York | Photo: Joanna Lin

Fortified wine has long had its place in Martinis, but what about the vast and often overlooked world of distilled one?? “Incorporating brandies is a great way to add flavor and make a cocktail more complex,” says Eloy Pacheco, head bartender at New York’s Dante. This point of view became the guideline for some of the season’s serious riffs on the classic Martini. At the recently opened Corner Bar in New York, the Gibson Primavera gains a herbaceous note with the addition of basil brandy, which is also featured in the Amethyst Hour at Houston’s better luck tomorrow. “I think brandy, at its best, delicately captures the essence of the fruit but also retains great structure,” says bar manager Sarah Crowl of the drink, which is served untraditionally in a rock glass. over ice, garnished with red grapes and basil.

At New York newcomer Martiny’s, the Japanese-style bar is taken to another level with Grand Martiny’s, which features a combination of gin, manzanilla sherry, vintage port, Cognac and St-Germain, garnished with a fresh grape. Together, the elements “embrace the natural acidity of the grapes,” says co-owner Takuma Watanabe. “Martinis hold a special place in my heart because it’s my favorite cocktail, so I had to put a martini on the menu with a ‘big’ twist.”

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