Monday, February 20, 2006

It's all about the glass...

We had a bit of a date night on Friday. First, we went to Maria's Front Room, which is a little Italian place in Ferndale. I love this restaurant, it's the type of place that Billy Joel wrote "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" about. The food is great, and they only have 15 tables, so while it's not overly fancy, it's wonderful and intimate, and you better have a reservation to get in there on the weekend.

With a belly full of pasta and wine, we wandered down to Gracie's Underground, a basement martini bar that just opened in Ferndale. We had espresso martinis, which were excellent, but I doubt this place will last long.

First off, if you look at the Web site for Gracie's Underground, the refer to themselves as a space that "offers all the style and sophistication of a New York style speakeasy. One step inside the urban-chic basement space and you'll know what we mean." How overly pretentious is that statement?

Second, what is it about putting a drink in a martini glass that immediately elevates its price to $10? Seriously, consider this: Order an extra-dry vodka martini - $10. Compare that to a doubleshot of vodka - what, maybe $6 if you're going to the top of the shelf at most places? You're paying for the glass!

Personally, I don't even like martini glasses. I mean as a drinking vessel; as a design element, they are great. They look cool, at maybe it looks sophisticated to hold one in your hand, but the prctical design is frickin' awful! The wide rim of the martini glass is way too easy to dribble, and at $10 a drink, every sip counts.

Ferndale is not really a trendy bar type of neighborhood either. I like it that way. We have a bunch of amazing independently-owned gourmet restaurants, some amazing bars, and some beer and burger bars. I am happy with this collection. I can do without the "urban-chic basement space".

As the occasional place to pop in and splurge on a gourmet drink to celebrate, Gracie's is fine, and it is Ferndale's only martini bar. They also offer half-price drinks from 5-7 pm on Monday through Friday, and I think I do want to go back to sample a few other choices during happy hour. I just have a feeling that once the novelty wears out, they won't last and a better basement bar will come in to fill the space.

As a bonus to my readers, because I don't feel that you need to spend the $10 to enjoy this bit of goodness, I offer this recipe:

The Espresso Martini*

1 shot Vanilla Stoli
1 shot Kahlua
1 shot espresso

Mix the ingredients up over ice and serve in a martini glass if you're feeling sassy; otherwise, it'll taste just as good in a rocks glass.

*Back when it was readily available (which was back when I was in college), we made this drink with Coffee Stoli rather than espresso. It tasted just as good, but was all liquor and no caffeine, which has various pros and cons. I don't think they make coffee-flavored vodka anymore, though.


stray_thoughts said...

Hey, KH was drinking that same Martini when we went to the Coach Insignia on Saturday. They decoratively drizzled some chocolate syrup in the glass too. Did you tell her about that on Friday night?

alpharat said...

I honestly don't think I mentioned the martini at all... on Friday I think I told her we went there, but I don't know that I ever told her what we had.

Angeline Rose Larimer said...

I so totally want to throw on a teddy, a bathrobe, and my high heels, and greet Tom at the door with this drink. Coffee, booze, the dribbly glass and some chocolate drizzle (now yer talking!)'s got it all. Maybe I could get my kids to make it for me.

Were you celebrating?
Or just partying before the bird flu kills us all?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how two bars directly across the street from each other selling $10 martinis in a 20,000-person town can possibly survive.

I can barely afford Pabst at Dino's, and having another place in that price range is disappointing.

Jonathan said...

I've always liked martini glasses, but I make my own at home so as to avoid the mark-up. It's all about ketel one on the rocks if I'm gonna pay top dollar.

One thing I always liked about the martini glass when I was a bartender: way way way easier to spot the unsteady hand.