Originally created 11/21/02

Flavors shake up traditional martini



It's Sex and the City - Augusta style: Friday night, the bar is lined with young professionals and everybody is holding a martini glass.

"That's our usual," says Minde Burton of Martinez, as she places her cosmopolitan back on her cocktail napkin. "When we come here, we want martinis."

Ms. Burton and Tracie Murphy of Augusta typically let their hair down at the Modjeska bar on Broad Street after a busy week. Like most other patrons there, they enjoy the bar's specialty martini menu.

Tonight it's cosmopolitans and apple martinis.

Martha Sylvester and Audrey Murell of Augusta want something a little more dessertlike. Chocolate martinis, a mixture of chocolate liqueur, Grand Marnier and vodka, fill their long-stemmed glasses.

Though you wouldn't catch James Bond drinking these sweet versions of his signature cocktail, they are part of a new generation of the martini.

"Martinis have made a huge comeback," bar manager Jody Smith says.

They are an icon for style and glamour, he says. But the rules for what constitutes a martini have relaxed.

"Now martini means it's served up, which is in a long stem glass with a triangular bowl," he says. And most of them have one of the classic ingredients, vodka or gin.

The Babe Delux Chocolatini mixes Absolute Mandarin vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur and a splash of Grand Marnier; the Energy-tini combines Red Bull and Skyy Vodka. Apple martinis, which taste like apple Jolly Ranchers candy, have vodka and melon liqueur.

Those who want a drink a little closer to the traditional martini can order the 007, which has three parts gin, one part vodka, a hint of vermouth and a twist.

And it's always shaken.

The Modjeska, which specializes in martinis, has more than a dozen on their menu.

"It's just a classic," says Modjeska owner Michael Shepis.

Through its history, the martini has attracted some classic fans, perhaps cementing its image as a classic cocktail. Well-known martini drinkers have included writers, politicians and actors; Humphrey Bogart, Winston Churchill, William Faulkner, Gerald Ford, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franklin Delano Roosevelt were among them.

Lowell Edmunds, author of the book Martini, Straight Up, traced the history of the martini to the 1870s.

But the location of its birth has been debated over the years. Some accounts credit San Francisco after the gold rush. Another tale places it in Martinez, Calif. Yet another credits a New York bar.

Originally, the drink consisted of gin and vermouth and was served chilled. It probably wasn't until the 1920s that it came to be served exclusively in the glass with the conical bowl, Mr. Edmunds said.

In the '50s, the glass changed and the martini was served in an old fashioned glass. This also was about the time that vodka became the backbone of the drink.

After that, to order the classic martini as it's known today, a customerwould order a martini, straight up.

SHAKE IT UP

The classic vodka martini is 6 parts vodka to 2 parts dry vermouth (or to taste). Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with olive.

Source: The Martini Book, by Sally Ann Berk (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers)

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com