Friday, June 20, 2008

Martini Time

The Summer Drinking issue of Time Out New York just came out (and isn't it just very Time Out-y that they even have a Summer Drinking issue?), and my microscopic piece on the tableside Martini service at Danny Meyer's Eleven Madison Park received very prominent placement. I wish I could give you a link and reprint the fabulous photography, but Time Out's website won't make the article available until next week. But I wrote the thing, so I wrote the thing so I feel I'm well within my rights to run it here for your perusal.

In truth, my objections to EMP's preference of vodka over gin in this signature Martini are more strenuous than I state in the article. When I next go to the restaurant and order this service, you can bet your boots I'll insist of Bombay (regular) or Beefeater's. I also wish the glass weren't 12 ounces. I don't like to get smashed on my first drink. But patrons equate value with size these days. And shame on Riedel for even making a 12 ounce Martini glass!

Critics’ pick

How we roll

When a cart comes your way in a swank Manhattan restaurant, it usually means cheese or dessert. But diners at Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Ave at 24th St, 212-889-0905) shouldn’t make any assumptions when they hear approaching wheels. The high-ceilinged, high-end eatery recently introduced tableside martini service, which allows diners to enjoy the voyeuristic privileges of sitting barside, without leaving the comfort of their seats. Owner Danny Meyer got the idea during a visit to London’s posh Dukes Hotel, where the world’s most famous cocktail has been prepared in the same showy manner for years. "I am not an inveterate martini drinker by any stretch," said Meyer, "but I have been so captivated by the Dukes Martini that I've made at least three
pilgrimages there just to have one." Indeed, everything about the mobile operation is hyper-elegant. Just a touch of vermouth is dropped into a 12 oz. Riedel Martini glass by way of a sterling silver Tiffany dispenser that resembles a small oil can. The glass is then filled out with ice-cold Potocki vodka, a soft spirit distilled from Polish rye, and the brand favored by Dukes. (Customers can request a different brand of vodka or, for the cocktail classicists, gin.) If olives are the preferred garnish, a small dishful are left at the table with a silver toothpick. Lemon twists are cut by the captain. “At night, doing the twist by candlelight, you can actually see the oils coming off the lemon,” says general manager Will Guidara. Cost: $18. And people seem happy to pay. Though traditionalists may bemoan the omission of three things I consider essentials—gin, a bit of stirring and a glass smaller than a birdbath—the cocktail is superb enough, and big enough, to make me forget.—Robert Simonson


Anonymous said...

You continue to reference EMP's use of the 6 7/8 ounce Riedel Vinum Extreme cocktail glass as being somehow extreme/excessive. You even reprimanded Riedel for producing a 12 oz. cocktail glass, which they do not! Do you even take yourself seriously, or do you simply take comfort in knowing that you are able to speak freely and with authority because by some strange twist of fate you have found yourself in a position to address large numbers of people with absolutely no thought given toward accurately representing those whom you write about. Ridiculous.

Robert Simonson said...

I called it a 12 oz. glass because the beverage director at Eleven Madison Park, and you'd think he'd know, wouldn't you? He serves the Martinis every day. It's not the Vinum Extreme. I believe it is the Vivant series Martini glass, which holds 10.25 oz. Or it might be the Bar Series glass, which hold 9.5 oz. Still too large in my book. In a further comment, you chiding me for installing comment moderation. Well, sure, guy! What do you expect, with fly-off-the-handle yahoos like you out there.