Jul 312012

Fred Astaire in a Glass

Full disclosure—I’m not a huge martini drinker, not because I don’t like them, because I like them a little too much. But every now and then my day job requires me to take one, or two, or three for the team. Such was the case last week when my co-worker Catherine and I paid a visit to Elsa’s on the Park for a little Martini tutorial and tasting. I know, I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

If you live in Milwaukee, and you don’t know Elsa’s, you should. Famous for its excellent service, its late night dining, its juicy burgers, and its hot wings with waffle fries, Elsa’s is a gem of a restaurant that has been tucked in Cathedral Square since 1979.  It’s part of the landscape. And Elsa’s martini’s…well…there’s an anonymous quote out there that describes them best. It goes like this…

“I’m not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube. I’m talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight, comfort, redemption and absolution. I’m talking MARTINI.”

Tony was our mixologist for the evening. We started with an Appletini—shaken not stirred. Normally, I don’t do fruity drinks. Certain food groups, in my opinion, should remain separate, but this was a delicious mix of vodka and sour apple schnapps—a perfect blend of sweet and sour.

Then it was on to the English Garden Martini—Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, and muddled cucumber. I mean really, who can say no to a muddled cucumber? This martini has all the goods. Hendrick’s is super smooth, with notes of citrus peel, coriander, rose petal and cucumber. It’s distilled in small batches so the master distiller can have greater control over his artistry. And as for the St. Germain— It’s the first liqueur in the world created in the artisanal French manner from freshly picked elderflower blossoms. They call it the bartender’s bacon. That should tell you all you need to know. Betty Ford here I come!

And last but not least, we sipped the Cosmopolitan—Elsa’s most popular martini, and there’s little wondering why. It’s a work of art. Once again, a French liqueur—Cointreau—puts this martini over the top in terms of flavor. Cointreau is the consummate blend of opposites—sweet and bitter orange peels, with pure alcohol from sugar beets. If I had to choose, this one would win hands down, every time. As a matter of fact, it does. The Cosmopolitan is sophistication and fun with a twist of lemon. Fred and Ginger in a glass, one might say.


(Originally written with love for The Boelter Superstore)