Trader Vic’s is a tiki bar that only those of us of a certain age will remember. In fact, I think there may be only one left in the whole of the United States. It was a fun place to have drinks (their Mai Tai was iconic) and eat North-Americanized Chinese food. The decor was Polynesian or maybe Tahitian, complete with lots of bamboo, carved figurines and masks, and, in some locations, canoes, similar to those that might have been used by South Pacific sailors.
So why is there a photo of a martini in this story? Because my best memory of Trader Vic’s involves a martini. Not just any martini. The best martini. Ever. It was in Toronto, many years ago, and I had met my father for lunch at a downtown hotel, which just happened to house a Trader Vic’s restaurant. I don’t remember why we were there that particular day. Maybe it was a wedding, or a funeral? Had I been attending a conference? I do remember we were dressed up and enjoying the ambiance of the place. And, to go with lunch, we ordered drinks. Now, my father was a pretty dedicated Scotch drinker, but somewhere along the way he had decided that a good martini was his new favorite cocktail. It had to have lots of olives, and it shouldn’t be shaken, but simply stirred with lots of ice. He liked the glass chilled and the gin very dry. So, we ordered martinis. What arrived at the table was simply superb! The glasses were frosted and cold, the olives already on cocktail picks, waiting for the drink to be poured. The martini was in a small glass pitcher, nestled in a larger bowl of crushed ice. The waiter poured our drinks and we toasted, and we drank…It was the best martini either of us had ever had. Over the years there were many times when Dad would say “do you remember that martini”? And I always knew exactly what he meant. So this is for him, the best martini that I can make. Cheers!
The Best Martini
- 1½ ounces dry London gin
- ½ ounce dry white vermouth
- A lemon twist (optional)
- Pimento-stuffed green olives, at least 3, skewered on a cocktail pick
- Place your martini glass in the freezer before you start mixing the drink. In a tall glass, filled with ice cubes, mix the gin, vermouth, and the lemon (if using). Stir, quite vigorously, with a swizzle stick or long-handled spoon.
- Strain your martini into the now-chilled glass and add the olives.
- Sip, and enjoy.