I have been ordering a lot of Martinis lately.
Oh, I’ve always ordered a fair amount. The Martini is one of my favorite cocktails. But now I order them almost exclusively. The reason is: It’s cold. I am eager to support the cocktail bars in my Brooklyn neighborhood and, under current Covid-19 rules, the only way to do that is by sitting outdoors. That means that, heat lamps and temporary shelters notwithstanding, I’m cold. The chairs are cold, the table is cold, I’m cold. But here’s the silver lining: My drink is cold, too. And, even more importantly, it stays cold.
When the drink in question is a Martini, that is a wonderful thing.
For a Martini to treat me right, it must be many things. It must be gin, it must be stirred, it must be served up and garnished with a lemon twist. Everyone has their preferences regarding this most famous of cocktails, and those are mine. But, above all, it must be bracingly, shockingly cold. Since time and temperature wait for no person, that quality is difficult to preserve inside a bar or restaurant. You either have to finish your drink within ten minutes or be faced with a room-temp Martini—and few things are as unappetizing as that.
But no more. I discovered this small side benefit of al fresco winter drinking in early December at Long Island Bar, a favorite watering hole of mine. Many bars these days are offering whole menus of hot cocktails to fight the wintry air. But, that particular night, I had had my fill of toddies, glöggs, and mulled wines. So, I pretended I wasn’t sitting on the sidewalk on a 34-degree night and ordered a Martini. I nursed it and, after twenty minutes, had a eureka moment. The chill on the drink hadn’t reduced one bit. In fact, it seemed like the Martini had actually gotten colder. A wave of calm fell over me. It was like being a parent and suddenly realizing that your baby had unexpectedly fallen asleep. There was nothing to worry about. The house was quiet. You could relax and enjoy life.
A few days later, I ordered a Martini at Clover Club, another favorite local bar. Again, the liquid in the glass and the air around it were as one. I sipped the drink as slowly as I pleased, knowing that it would wait for me indefinitely. In this small respect, time had stopped. I coupled the Martini with a dozen oysters, knowing now that they, too, would never grow warm. Soon after, I ordered a Martini at an old tavern nearby that is not known for its cocktails. But an icy Martini can hide many flaws in construction, and the drink tasted good from the first frigid sip to the last.
Given this new drinking hack, I see no reason to break my habits until the trees sprout buds in March. That first Margarita under the hot sun will be delightful. But I hope New York and other cities retain their current rules allowing outdoor bar seating and to-go cocktails. Because, come next winter, I may want to take my Martini for a walk.
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