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!
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