The martini that never was

Once, at our favourite drinking hole, the Philosophe and I had the audacity to question whether our vodka-and-limes had been watered down because (double shots though they were) we couldn’t taste the vodka. Much to our embarrassment, it was simply because they had used a superior (=more expensive) brand of vodka, one clearly too sophisticated for our alcoholic crude palates. Still, being the valued customers that we are, they kindly added another tot to make us happy.

So I was a bit nervous about complaining the other day when we found ourselves at a rather bespoke bar, and the martinis we ordered tasted of water. Actually the first one definitely was watery, because there were shards of ice floating in the glass: not martini-wang! The bartender (his name was Elvis) apologised and quickly went about fixing the mistake. It was all very professional, and he clearly knew what he was doing. We watched the vodka go in, and then the vermouth. We watched him carefully pick a petal off a cold rose and slip it into the glass at the end. It certainly looked like martini-wang (though olives are infinitely preferable to a rose petal, but hey, Elvis was doing his thing).

We took a sip. Water.

Another sip. Nothing. Only the faintest hint of blackcurrant (it was Absolut Kurant).

It was a tricky moment, but in the end I refused to believe that I have lost the ability to taste vodka. I had to speak.

And so I should have, because that evening we helped to solve an important mystery in a bespoke bar (which, for reasons of their upstanding reputation, shall remain unnamed). The explanation for our waterinis was the only plausible one: the “vodka” in the bottle was, in fact, water. Or let’s say water with a homeopathic memory of vodka. Someone behind the bar (clearly not Elvis) had been sucking on the Kurant bottle.

Relieved, we accepted a glass of bubbly instead, while the manager set about the (un)enviable task of taste-checking all fifty-plus bottles of vodka in the bar.

So next time you detect too much water in your booze, fear not! Speak up! Maybe I should start a Facebook group.