Off the Menu: Mad for Martinis

By Kira O’Donnell

The most frequently ordered martini at Soga’s is the Cosmopolitan, a “Sex and the City” fave.

In the 1988 film Cocktail, Tom Cruise dazzled moviegoers with his bartending prowess. “I make things with juice and froth,” his character declared. “I make drinks so sweet and snazzy.” Inspired by the movie, fans flocked to bars in the late ’80s and early ’90s to guzzle libations with such evocative names as Sex on the Beach, Velvet Hammer and Alabama Slammer.

However, the halcyon days of the froufrou drink are over, and bartenders in the Sacramento region tell us that anyone who’s anyone is drinking martinis.

The martini appears to be Sacramento’s hands-down favorite cocktail. Elias Bettis, a bartender at Aces Supper Club, says his patrons clamor for the bar’s chocolate martini, and his apple martini, called a Green Hornet (equal parts vodka and DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker Schnapps, with a splash of sweet-and-sour mix) is an oft-requested potion.

“Martinis, and variations on the martini,” are all the rage at Soga’s in Davis. Owner Matt Soga thinks the martini “gives drinkers a feeling of sophistication” and has a  “nostalgic character” that appeals to customers.

“Drink fads tend to come and go,” he says, but “the martini is holding its own.” Vodka aficionados at Soga’s go for Grey Goose and Ketel One, while their juniper berry-loving compadres often opt for Bombay Sapphire and Citadel gins. The most frequently ordered martini at Soga’s is the Cosmopolitan, a “Sex and the City” fave, prepared with two parts vodka, two parts lime juice, one part triple sec and a splash of cranberry juice.

“Shake, strain and serve with a lime wedge,” Soga advises.

At the Sheraton Grand in downtown Sacramento, customers are asking for the traditional as well as the contemporary fruity martinis. “I think people drink them because they look festive,” speculates bartender Jennifer Young. And at boisterous Bandera on Fair Oaks Boulevard, which serves the heftiest martinis we’ve seen in the region, bartender Todd Friesen echoes his colleagues. “It’s all vodka and gin martinis, Cosmopolitans and Lemon Drops,” he says. Customers like them, he believes, “because they look trendy.”

Martinis also rule at Riverside Clubhouse’s bustling bar. “I see martinis as an image thing,” says bartender Josh Alves. “I think customers see powerful people drinking them and want to emulate those people.” Alves also serves a number of patrons  “who go straight for a martini after a long week of work.” A martini, he explains, “provides some good release, and it goes down reeeeal smooth.”