Martini. For French people it’s a Vermouth brand, a sweet cooked wine that is served chilled – sometimes with sparkling lemonade and lemon zest. The drink is very different from the classic American gin/vermouth mix and is usually served at home. You can imagine my surprise when, at my first position as a chef at le Chantilly in New York, I saw someone order a Martini at the restaurant and discovered it was hard liquor.
I must confess that the European version of the Martini is much more to my liking. It is smoother, more flavorful, and probably a much better introduction to a tasting menu. We serve two versions of the drink. They are called Baumétini and Razztini, served in a classic (US) martini glass, and prepared in the kitchen like the rest of our cocktails. One is flavored with passion fruit caviar, the other with raspberry sorbet. Instead of Vermouth, we use sparkling Sake, which inspired this cocktail because it is similar to the European Martini but more refined and subtle.
We recommend the Baumetini to start because the effervescence of the sake with the bursts of passion fruit caviar opens your palate to the food you are about to eat.
One last remark. I always try to imagine a drink in the midst of a tasting menu : how will it complement the dishes served before and after it? For instance, we recommend the Baumetini to start because the effervescence of the sake with the bursts of passion fruit caviar opens your palate to the food you are about to eat. But between seafood and a sorbet intermezzo I would recommend Lillet with orange because, full of bitters, it helps to remove the flavors of seafood from your palate and opens it up to the sweetness of the sorbet.