Today is National Dry Martini Day, and to celebrate we're visiting Modesto (5257 Shaw Avenue; 314-772-8272) for a Spanish take on the dry martini: "The Armada."
Brian Hornbeck, general manager of Modesto, guided us through the Hill restaurant's cocktail. He started out by explaining the difference between sherry and vermouth, most commonly associated with a dry martini.
"Vermouths are made from various roots and berries, and there's a wine base to it," Hornbeck says. "Sherries are fortified and has more of an alcoholic blend to it than just wine. They take a bit of a different angle on how they do it. In the process, sherry changes from sweet to dry where they can extract some of the original wine and fold back in what they want until they reach the sweetness, or cream, level they desire."
Although purists may scoff at sherry in favor of vermouth, Hornbeck endorses the possibilities this fortified wine brings behind the bar.
"Sherry actually blends well with a lot of things," Hornbeck says. "It just hasn't been as exploited yet as vermouth and some other things. It has a long, rich history and goes very well with the vodka and adds a whole new depth to the cocktail. The squeeze of orange brings out the natural tastes of the sherry and brings the whole cocktail into a complete drink."
We can safely say this is the simplest cocktail we've enjoyed on a Wednesday, but just because the cocktail has two ingredients in the glass doesn't mean it's boring. There was a lot of complexity in every sip we took, and the slight sweetness from the sherry was complimented with a crisp bite of vodka. Taking Hornbeck's suggestion, we squeezed the orange garnish in and enjoyed another layer to the Spanish-inspired dry martini.
"This is actually both a good apertif cocktail and/or sherries are very popular as an after dinner," Hornbeck says. "This goes before or after. Not necessarily a food cocktail, but it'll get you started or finish you off."
Click through for recipe...