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The renaissance drink.

The setting is elegant; the mood, rakish; and the drink, glamorous. It is today's replay of the age when the Martini, the drink with the sophisticated image, reigned supreme.

Beginning as gin and vermouth, the Martini first intrigued the artistic and the elite following World War I. By the end of World War II, however, it had enthralled nearly everyone else.

But drinks, like hemlines, have their ups and downs. Eventually, the Martini fell, if not from grace, at least from favoritism at large. However, not everyone abandoned the Martini. It still had its faithful followers who partook of the drink regularly and eagerly. Now their loyalty is being repaid: The Martini is enjoying renewed interest.

Why is the Martini enjoying its current ressurection? Perhaps, because its devotees have become more vociferous and have spread the good word. Maybe it's because Americans are tired of bland food, light beer and white wine and crave the zing of a Martini. Or maybe, it is a desire to return to gracious living and old-fashioned elegance with a sense of adventure that accounts for the Martini's renaissance. The Martini is, above all, elegant, civilized and distinctive.

There is one more reason, however. The Martini, more than any other drink, has the image of power and sophistication. It is the drink of the well-heeled, upwardly mobile, intelligent professional who asks not simply for a Martini, but for a special Martini.

"They ask for a Martini by brand name," says Johnny Piementel, bartender at B. Smith's restaurant in New York City. And, he adds, they ask for premium brands: "A Stolichnaya Martini" or a "Beefeater Martini."

Beverage Media, the business journal of the wines and spirits industry, reported in its article "What America Is Drinking (June 1991) that wherever people gather to drink across the country the watch phrase of the moment is: "...Make it premium." It also reported that in 1990 and 1991, the Martini was second in popularity only to drinks made with tonic water. Martinis also accounted for 18.1 percent of all mixed drinks ordered at the bar--a 4.1 percent increase over 1990. The number of Martinis ordered with vodka rather than gin also rose to 57 percent from 53 percent in 1990. What should be clear from the Martini's fade-out and razzle-dazzle reentry is it is not a static drink. Mix it with gin or vodka, add more or less vermouth, with or without olives, pearl onions or lemon twist, and you still have a Martini.

For a classic Martini, stir two ounces of your favorite gin or vodka with a dash of dry vermouth. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a green olive or a twist of lemon and enjoy it straight or on the rocks.

But there is a new variation--the Cajun Martini. It was first introduced in New Orleans, the heart of Cajun country, by chef Paul Prudhomme at his restaurant K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen. The recipe calls for mixing the Martinis using gin or vodka in the bottle. For every two ounces vodka, add a dash of extra-dry vermouth and either fresh jalapeno or caynne peppers (depending upon the season). Chill the mixture in its bottle in the refrigerator for 72 hours before serving. Serve it up in chilled quart-or pint-sized mason jars that have been packed with ice. Garnish the Martinis with pickled mirliton (a mixture of fresh onions, garlic and jalapeno peppers pickled in vinegar) or pickled green tomatoes, depending upon the reason.

Anyway you mix it--stirred not shaken, with vodka or gin--savor the mystique of the Martini
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:the Martini
Author:Fried, Eunice
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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