First, a little background may be in order:
The classic martini is made with gin and vermouth (2:1 ratio) and garnished with either cocktail olives or a twist of lemon. The vodkatini made popular by 007 himself has become accepted as a substitute and with it have come numerous flavor variations. The common element, though, is that there be either gin or vodka in the drink.
I’m no purist, to be sure, as I find the straight martinis to be way too bracing for me. (This has a lot to do with my first encounter involving a dirty martini–one that’s had a splash of the olive juice added–that was way too strong for mixer-loving me.) Beginning in the Fall of 2005, however, I learned to love flavored martinis with a passion and spent over a year on a Mangotini kick like you wouldn’t believe. An unfortunate New Year’s Eve experience has since put me off the mango variety, mores the pity, but such is life.
Being somewhat adventurous and quite enamoured with pomegranates of late, I ordered a Pomegranate Martini at a local chain eatery named for a knowledgeable fruit and a very possessive insect. First of all, I only glanced at the description, but even if I’d committed it to memory it would not have prepared me for what the hapless waiter served me. When he approached the table I noticed the martini glass was rimmed. Unusual, yes, but the sweeter martinis often feature a sugared rim so I didn’t really give it much thought. He offered to pour the first one for me and I let him (less chance of me wearing it that way, after all) and he walked away. At the first sip I was horrified: it was not a sugar rim but SALT. When I finally unpuckered the lower half of my face from the shock I debated returning the drink for one with slightly less sodium or just wiping the salt off and making the best of a bad situation. Since the waiter took a bit to return, I went with the second option and was still trying to divide the salt from it’s host when he did return.
Of course I asked him why on earth anyone would SALT the rim of a martini. To which he answered, well, it’s actually a margarita. Pardon? He claimed that there really was only one pomegranate cocktail on their menu and it was a margarita. Um, no, have a glance at the menu if you would. Now, what I don’t see (nor had I tasted) was any tequila in there (which is sorta required for it to be a margarita) and it’s certainly NOT what was on the menu. [It should be noted that the online menu does feature a pomegranate margarita, as well, but it was not on our drink menu this particular visit.] Had I paid more attention to the description, though, I probably would have ordered something else since it does feature orange liqueur, sweet and sour and soda… not the way I like my Pomatinis. But whatever. The whole visit was questionable and will probably be our last trip to fruit-buzz’s for a while.
Now, remember when I said there should be either gin or vodka in the drink to make it a martini? Well, another affront was spotted at yet another chain restaurant named after a gem of a day (this one chosen as it was one of the few recognizable, reliable eateries in a little Southern town). Why we continue to patronize these places is beyond me, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. This particular cocktail I did not try, opting instead for a glass of Sangria, but it clearly violates the entire notion of a martini. Last time I checked sake was neither made from potatoes or juniper berries, so no dice! I suppose if we were really trying to make a cause for a sake martini, vodka can be made from grains and rice is a grain so rice wine could maybe… nope, sorry, can’t do it, doesn’t count! It should be noted that this same musically-inclined eatery featured a curious cocktail called a “Chilled Grape Martini” which did include vodka but just makes me wonder why not just drink wine?