Once upon a time, the martini was simple—gin with a wave of dry vermouth. Today’s martinis come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and none of them are simple. Indeed, the only resemblance between the classic drink of Nick and Nora Charles and today’s martinis is the glassware.
And, of course, now we have the dessert martini. Credit for this yummy alcoholic sweet? Perhaps after so many green apple martinis in Jolly Rancher colors, the idea of throwing some chocolate into a martini glass caught on—after all, adding chocolate to anything is usually a good idea. Still, dessert cocktails are nothing new, and the dessert martini did have more than one forebear. There was the 1950s White Russian, with its milk-vodka-Kahlua combination, and before that, the 1920s classic, the Brandy Alexander—brandy, dark crème de cacao, and half-and-half. But brandy was then; vodka is now.
Vodka used to be flavorless, odorless, colorless. How times have changed. Today, there are more than 200 vodkas flooding the liquor market to keep pace with the Technicolor world of the modern cocktail, and there is nothing flavorless about them. Chocolate, espresso, caramel, vanilla, coconut…this resembles the dessert cart rather than a well-polished mahogany bar. But who’s complaining? The Olde Stone Mill (2 Scarsdale Rd, Tuckahoe 914-771-7661) has expanded its drink menu to include many dessert drinks; even the venerable Manhattan has raspberry in it.
There are gender expectations for drinks like these—men usually order the Scotch, women the sweet drinks. At Martinis & Chocolates (425 White Plains Rd, Eastchester 914-361-1182), however, bartender Deanna Mancini occasionally makes sweet martinis like the International-tini (vodka, coffee liqueur, Amaretto, Frangelico, and Bailey’s Irish Cream) for men. Regardless of gender, it’s dessert first and martini second.