The Suburban Martini Spectrum

The Dirty Martini at Bellecour // Photo by Tj Turner

The Martini List, which would always be capitalized and contain a Cosmo and an appletini, is a relic of the early-2000s and dates with Carrie Bradshaw. However, you may be surprised to learn that there are still places that feature a Martini List, especially out in the suburbs. The Sunshine Factory is consistently named one of the best bars in Plymouth and their list of drinks contains two sections. One is “hot drinks” which all sounded appealing on a chilly October’s night and the other is, you guessed it, capital “m” Martinis.

A martini is actually a real cocktail with a recipe and everything. American journalist H. L. Mencken once noted that the martini is “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet” and he might be right. Gin, dry vermouth, and a dash of citrus bitters stirred and poured into a coupe looks really sexy in a dimly lit bar.

The Sunshine Factory’s Madre Latte Martini // Photo by Tj Turner

The Sunshine Factory’s Martini List had an appletini and a Cosmo, natch, but I was most intrigued by the Madre Latte. A mix of RumChata and Patrón Cafe XO that sounded preposterous and delicious all at the same time. I refrained from treating myself, however, and ordered a Tanqueray martini from the busy bartender. It was a Thursday night and she was weeded. It was served to me with plenty of ice shards after being shaken for too long.

At Bellecour, in Wayzata, there is an extensive cocktail menu and a vast back bar of spirits to make whatever your heart desires. They even have a 50/50 (equal parts gin and vermouth) Martini that has been on the menu. However, bartender Berit Johnson notes that on a weekend night “probably 90% of the martinis I make are ice-cold vodka served up.”

Johnson went on to mention that “people are going to drink what they want, but I have had success with switching people to a Vesper.” That was the only success story she could come up with from her time at Bellecour, where she’s been working for two and a half years, of getting suburbanites outside of their comfort zone with a martini.

While sipping my cold glass of gin at The Sunshine Factory, watching the Wild lose to the Predators, I thought about what a good martini meant to me. I finally concluded that a perfect vermouth to gin ratio was not what I needed to enjoy a martini. No, location and company can make any drink a good one and being surrounded by a buzzing group of strangers shooting the breeze and laughing made me enjoy every last drop of gin in my cup.