I never really finished my local-flavor MxMo post last week. Gunning up to the deadline, writing when I was already exhausted, and laughing at a night’s inebriation are all fine, but I slammed into a wall that told me it was time to hit the sack.
Had I continued, I’d have written about this wonderful thing:
It’s an heirloom martini, inspired by a drink of the same name that Jen ordered at Gracie’s restaurant, here in Providence. We’ve been to a number of restaurants and bars in Providence, and we’ve learned it’s hard to get a really great cocktail here. There’s some damn fine cuisine in Providence, but the bar programs are lagging behind the kitchens. You just see a lot of the same vodka-based craptails from place to place. I don’t know whether it’s the bar managers or the patrons who are so uninspired, but it’s disappointing.
I do want to talk about the exceptions, though, and Gracie’s is one. I arrived early to our dinner at Gracie’s on Thursday, the Seventh of August, so I took a seat at the bar to wait for Jen. Anter, the newly installed bar manager, was working the stick, and we got to talking. I started off by asking about rye. He had Sazerac, which he stirred for me into a Manhattan. He usually keeps Old Overholt and, when he can get it, Rittenhouse, but he doesn’t sell enough rye cocktails to go deeper than those three.
That branched out into a good discussion of spirits and cocktails in general. There’s little in cocktail-geekery that’s more fun than getting to know a good bartender who’s both smart and creative behind the bar. (As an aside, long-time readers might remember me talking about Jim, one of the bar guys at Dressler, in Brooklyn. I ran into Jim down at Tales of the Cocktail and was able to chat for a few minutes. The guy remembered Jen and me even though we hadn’t been in there since a couple of months before the move. He’s still got a damn good memory. We’ll have to get back there soon.)
Back to the business of that drink, though. While I was waiting for Jen, another man came in, approached the bar, and starting talking to Anter. He asked whether Anter still had “that heirloom martini” on the menu, and Anter said, “Yes, we do.” I looked for it immediately when Jen came in and we were seated and handed menus. Gin (or vodka), heirloom tomato water, and pickled tomatoes for garnish. That’s it. He may have used a touch of vermouth, too, but I didn’t taste any.
So that was pretty easy to re-create last weekend. Jen took an heirloom tomato, chunked it, wrapped it in cheesecloth, and suspended it in a mesh strainer over a bowl. She squeezed it from time to time, but mostly let the liquid drain out. I took a small amount, about half an ounce, and stirred it with cracked ice and 5-1/2 ounces of gin in a chilled mixing glass. Jen had previously pickled some small tomatoes, and we used them for garnish.