The Martini is Dead...

"The Martini is Dead"
PUNCH (Nov 13, 2014)

... Long live the Martini! This piece for Punch began with a fact and a question. Fact: the Martini had been badly debased in the 1990s by so-called "Martini bars" that cropped up everywhere, putting all manner of nastiness into V-shaped glasses and adding "-tini" to the end.  It's as if it changed out of Fred Astaire's tuxedo and into Stanley Kowalski''s wife-beater. So, the question: What replaced the Martini as a symbol of swank.

I called around and talked to people who think about these things. (Read: bartenders.) And it turned out to be more complicated than my simple fact and question. The Martini had survived in its tux, but had gone somewhat feral, and was now returning to polite society. But it now has company — other cocktails that show one's sense of sophistication when ordered.

And there's been a shift in dynamic. At the start of the craft cocktail renaissance, bartenders were proselytizers, preaching to a captive congregation about the merits of little known liquors and house-made bitters. “Now it’s their turn,” says New Orleans bartender Kimberly Patton-Bragg of her customers who research obscurity all on their own now.

Andrew Volk at the Portland (Maine) Hunt & Alpine Club echoes this: “With the boom of craft bars, that status drink has evolved into a ‘I know more than you’ show-off kind of drink,” he says. “[It's] the guy who walks in with a handful of friends, orders a Brown Derby or a Hoffman House or De La Louisiane, and then turns to his friends and explains the history of the drink.”