“Never say never, never say always!” Red faced! I've just had opportunity to learn this lesson anew!
Admittedly I have on many, many occasions pooh-poohed the idea of any Martini Cocktail other than the Classic Dry (and then only with gin). In the face of Choco-tinis & Apple-tinis, I have mocked enthusiastically and freely voiced my disdain. And not long ago I wrote expressing extreme Dry Martini prejudice, subsequently receiving email decrying my rigid stance. Immediately thereafter, I launched into research to prove my position that Euro & Latino bartenders drown perfectly good gin in Vermouth. Granted I was to use a small sample group to tar the aforementioned bartenders but I've traveled internationally three decades (over half my life time) drinking and teaching the Dry Martini. So with all that far-flung experience, I figured I could use my city of residence (La Paz, Bolivia) as the macro in the micro, the world in a grain of sand so to speak.
Presently, there are a little over two million people living here with a good smattering of Europeans in the food and beverage industry. Perfect, Euros and Latinos! Good! I was to drink one Martini in each location and move on to the next, hit it and quite, all in the name of science and statistics. I covered La Comedie, La Guingette, the penthouse Utama/Plaza Hotel, the Radisson Bar, Europa Hotel and Thelonius Jazz Bar. Asking for a DRY, DRY Martini Cocktail, each and every watering-hole delivered a "half & half" mix of Gin to Vermouth. In two nights it was six for six; postulation proven.
Feeling well justified and seeking comfort after an arduous ordeal, I returned to my haven for Martini Cocktails, the Vienna Restaurant. The owner Paul is Austrian and where he learnt the Classic Dry Martini I cannot say. I’m just thankful he did learn and has taught an efficient bar staff to care for road weary travelers and locals suffering shattered city nerves.
Now here is where “Never say never, never say always!” comes in… recounting the tale of long laborious research, Paul shared with me that the Vienna has its own Martini.
“Oh,” was my reply.
“Yes,” Paul said.
“May I have one?”
He turned to the barman and ordered. As you see Paul is very agreeable and makes things happen in a pleasant way. And he does it all in German, Spanish & English when most people can hardly manage to be polite in one language. Bit of a miracle in itself, is it not?...
The glass, tall and chilled, held a seemingly perfect Dry Martini. However, a small variation had been executed by skewering a Caper rolled in an Anchovy Fillet. I sipped heartily not to be put off at all, as it’s well known that Caper & Anchovy in combination mute one and the other and deliver yet another flavor in fusion. One sip and a new fanatic was born.
Yes, I continue to love the Classic! But I am now a fan of the Ancho-tini, as well! The “Never say never, never say always!” lesson learnt once again! I report to you a humbled man with two Dry Martini favorites to his name. And as is often the case when you put away your prejudice, the world becomes bigger in the end!
Address: Federico Zuazo #1905
Tel: 244.1660La Paz, Bolivia
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