Martini Test Drive – Hippo Bar
by The Editor
“Take us on a journey.” That was our simple direction to Sam, our bartender one Thursday afternoon at Hippo Bar. Sam was welcoming and compliant, wandering away to think about the options as we sat and collected ourselves with a beer.
Once we were ready, Little Spoon and I signalled to Sam we were ready for our martinis. A little disconcertingly, the glasses were already iced and sitting on the bar. It was already possible to see water pooling in the bottom of the glasses. Hmmm… this wasn’t the start we were hoping for.
Still, we couldn’t criticise Sam for his sense of theatre. While he had our complete attention, Sam organised the particular spirits on the bar in front of us. Curiously, I was to receive Bombay with Noilly Pratt. Little Spoon had in front of her Tanqueray, but the second ingredient wasn’t labelled. “It’s rosemary infused sugar syrup,” explained Sam. Wow. This was getting interesting.
One stirred, shaken and poured into the chilled glasses, Sam finished off mine with a twist of entwined lemon and orange peel. Little Spoon got three skewered olives, forcing me to ask the question I’d been stewing on since the process started. “So Sam, talk me through why I’ve got the Bombay with a twist. I would have assumed you would have made me the other martini, with Tanqueray and olives.”
“That’s definitely not for you.” Sam goes on to explain, “It’s far too sweet.” I raise an eyebrow at this statement. He spots it. “The rosemary sugar syrup is the key. Also, with the blue cheese-stuffed olives, it’s a surprisingly gentle flavour. You’re is a bit more serious. Although there is a gentle aroma of roses, the citrus oils eliminate almost all the sweetness.”
And do you know, he was absolutely spot on. on a quick taste comparison mine was so much dryer than Little Spoon’s. I was blown away, having had these two drinks obliterate every assumption I’d had only five minutes ago.
As we finished up, the other bartender wandered over, noting our nods of appreciation. “Do you know the difference between God and a bartender?” We had to admit we did not.
“God doesn’t want to be a bartender.” We laughed, having to admit a martini at Hippo had taken us to Heaven.