Fruit shakes up classic martini


April 17, 2002|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The martini is back, with some new twists that James Bond and other well-known martini connoisseurs might not consider worthy of the name.

But these days, a lot of bar customers are looking for something lighter and less dry than a couple of slugs of gin or vodka splashed with vermouth and finished with an olive or twist. Bar menus are awash in drinks pairing the flavors of vodka and fruit.

At the Ruby Lounge on Charles Street, bartender Alan Makranczy says he gets a lot of requests for the Razzle Dazzle, a raspberry martini. Up the street at the Brass Elephant, bar manager David Judy says the most popular non-traditional martini is the Cosmopolitan, which adds the flavors of cranberry and lime to vodka, finished with a dash of triple sec.

The Cosmopolitan's recent popularity around the country has spurred a flurry of inventive variations on the theme. Last year, when the EurAsian Harbor on Eastern Avenue was preparing for its May opening, the chef gave the bar staff some Asian pear puree and asked the bartenders to experiment. They came up with the Asian Pear Martini, which has become a popular offering.

"It's smooth, not too strong, not too sweet," says Cyd Jans, one of the bartenders who helped develop the recipe.

It also packs less of a wallop than straight gin with a hint of vermouth, which is another reason for its popularity. But that's not true of all fruit martinis; many of them are made with fruit-flavored liqueurs and have as much alcohol as a traditional martini, so if that's a concern, be sure to ask before ordering.

Whatever the alcohol content, pour the drink in a martini glass and it can be as pleasing to the eye as to the palate. In fact, that distinctive glass is a big part of the charm.

"People look and feel a certain way when they hold a martini glass," says Jans. "It looks cool on the table, and people feel cool when they drink them."

Asian Pear Martini

Makes 1 drink

3 parts Skyy or other smooth vodka (see note)

1 part puree of Asian pear (see note)

splash of cointreau

Pour ingredients into shaker, shake and then serve.

Note: A citrus-flavored vodka also works well in this drink.

The Asian pear puree is available in some Asian markets. If you can't find the prepared puree, peel an Asian pear, boil it till soft, then strain through a sieve.

- EurAsian Harbor

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