The next time you ask for a drink at the bar, be warned that the cocktail you order will say just as much about you as the way you are dressed or even what you say. The bartender will know in an instant if you are a seasoned imbiber or a naif who has not yet gotten much further than rummaging around his parents' liquor cabinet.
Ordering a martini will definitely tell most bartenders you are not without your chops when it comes to downing a cocktail or three. This is the most pure of all mixed drinks. It is all about the alcohol and the balance of the ingredients, and there is nowhere to hide if it is badly prepared.
However, there are now so many styles being made alongside the traditional gin variety, even the type of martini you order is going to reveal your innermost secrets and tell your server if they need to prepare your drink properly or just give you any old boozy slop in a glass to shut you up for a while.
A vodka martini
Even though the word “martini” has become a reference for a whole range of drinks, there is still something about overhearing someone ask for a “vodka martini” that makes me wince, and I know many bartenders feel the same way.
Many people I know order this because they don’t like gin even though gin is, at its heart, just a flavored vodka. Ordering this drink simply tells the bartender that the customer doesn’t like anything that actually has any taste at all and that they are just interested in getting plastered. In which case the bartender could probably get away with serving them paint thinner, as long as it is nice and cold and served with an olive.
As far as I am concerned, the apple martini, or “appletini,” as it has been dubbed, is one of the true low points of cocktail-making history. If its lurid Shrek-like hue is not enough to put you off from ordering one, the taste of the drink is enough to require a shot of insulin to ward off a diabetic attack. The apple martini should never be drunk by anyone who thinks breaking wind in bed is funny, and if it is, the bartender will quite rightly think the drinker should be back at home, talking about his feelings while braiding his sister’s hair.
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The gold leaf martini
Bars put premium drinks like this one -- finished with shimmering strips of real gold leaf -- on their menus for one reason only: to lure in the high roller, the man who likes to indulge in conspicuous acts of consumption. He is unconcerned about actually enjoying the drink, but loves to be the center of attention when he is in a bar. Order this, and it will tell the bartender that you have issues with self-esteem and probably have an expensive sports car parked outside to compensate for other failings. The barkeeper will be cordial to your face, however, hopeful that you throw some of that excess dough you seem so keen on spending his way. But he won’t respect you in the morning.
A chocolate martini
This rather nasty little cocktail is usually made with the chosen spirit of the customer and crème de cacao or some other indulgent chocolate liqueur. It is a favorite of the partying would-be model set who consider its considerable calorie count a meal supplement. They will no doubt throw up the drink later, which is as much a testament to how vile the drink is as it is to their dedication to their craft. Any man ordering this drink will immediately be singled out as a cocktail rube and should be made to walk the streets, carrying a sign declaring his shame.
A "shaken, not stirred" martini
Asking for your martini to be made in the “Bondian” fashion (I just made up that word; I think it could catch on) is as appalling as making jokes about explosives at airport security. Although there are, of course, genuine reasons some serious cocktail lovers might request their martini to be made this way (dilution, coldness), the majority of people who do so are genuinely under the impression that the bartender will be amused. For the record, they won’t be, and they will place the customer firmly in the “tool” category. Word to the wise: Overuse of the “Bondian” request works in inverse proportion to your chances of getting lucky.