Black Martini

Moxy, 4584 Laclede Avenue, 314-361-4848

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It's not black, actually, but a deep, deep purple, the color of the precise moment when dusk turns to dark, when the sun has conceded its efforts to keep afloat, when Forest Park in the distance is ablaze with lightning bugs, mosquitoes and the last desperate joggers eking one final mile out of their wobbly legs.

A walk from Moxy to the park after an exquisite Monday dinner is made premium by the companionship of St. Louis' most beautiful woman and the afterglow of the black martini, which the exuberant Central West End restaurant, celebrating its six-month anniversary, serves with chilled simplicity.

The black martini is pretty basic: It consists of only two ingredients, Absolut Kurant and Chambord. But these two tools, both containing a fair amount of twangy berry sourness, combine to create perfect elegance and purity. Where some drinks astonish with rococo ornamentation and swagger, the black martini is impressive in the same way that a Shaker cabinet is: from clean lines and a utilitarian sense of purpose arrives beauty. The black martini isn't a butterfly; it's a lightning bug.

Chambord Liqueur Royale is a black-raspberry flavored elixir imported from France. Back in the day, when bourgeois ladies donned fanciful embroidered gowns as an outer display of their inner beauty, they sipped Chambord out of crystal thimbles and giggled at the suave suggestions of their lecherous land-owning lovers, who had consumed twice as much of the cognac-based spirit. Alas, Chambord has the divine ability to focus all of its energy in the groin area, so many an evening was spent fending off extended bouts of grab-ass. Is there anything more dangerous than a drunken Frenchman?

Combined with Absolut Kurant, a black currant-flavored vodka, Chambord glows purple. Moxy serves the martini chilled, of course, which brings out the tanginess while diminishing the jolt of alcohol that accompanies your basic vodka martini. The presence of all that berry also masks the impact of what is ultimately a very strong drink, as well, so it's a good idea to tread lightly and go slow.

That shouldn't be too difficult. Moxy is tailor-made for an evening of leisure, an evening of on-a-whim walks through plum-colored environments with a pretty lady or a lascivious lord. The darkness has arrived, but the heat of the St. Louis summer will remain long after the sun has vanished. It's stored in the glowing butts of fireflies, in the burning legs of joggers and deep inside the hearts of lovers out for the evening.

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