We’ve had a few houseguests recently, which is odd considering we just moved and we have ripped out our kitchen so we don’t really have the infrastructure for houseguests. We’ve been taking our guests to local eateries, including Zingerman’s Roadhouse.
The other night, I ordered a Classic Martini at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. It’s one of several “classic cocktails” that Zingerman’s is bringing back to life at the Roadhouse Bar.
I have a weakness for a gin martini – with a twist of lemon, exceptionally dry. Basically, if I make one at home I kind of wave a bottle of Vermouth near the martini shaker and that’s it. Well, I knew that Zingerman’s was into traditional cocktail recipes and so I ordered a classic martini, with trepidation. The Zingerman’s classic martini has Plymouth gin, vermouth, and orange bitters. When I saw the bartender pour what seemed like an awful lot of Vermouth into the martini shaker, I thought, well, chalk this one up to experience, looks like I blew my order and I won’t like this drink. Then he put in the bitters.
But, I relaxed a bit when I saw him work the lemon, he held the lemon over the glass as he dug deeply into the rind to carve out the twist, covering the empty glass with “expectorated” lemon yumminess.
He made the drink, I tasted it, and then he talked about it. He said it was a great cocktail, one of the best around. He was careful to say that it wasn’t just the recipe, but implied it was the details of the ingredients and the technique that made it special.
He showed off for us, digging the zester into a lemon to create a small mist of lemony goodness and illustrate his point. He was proud of the cocktail. I think I have to incorporate the aggressive zesting into my routine. Beyond that, it made me think of what sets Zingerman’s apart, what makes them special. I think part of it is that they value ingredients and technique, not that they have a magic recipe that can’t be guessed. Their competitive edge is about quality ingredients and consistency of approach and hard work, nothing more magic than that. Worth contemplating.