In the cocktail world, what is old and stodgy can become new again. Consider the mojito, that brilliant mint leaf and rum concoction long relegated to the world of muumuus. When every drinker comes of age, the official rite of passage seems to be the dirty martini. If the trend continues, it won’t be surprising to hear the chicest among us ordering Dr. Pepper with Black Velvet (though I’m crossing my fingers that mint julep will appear back on the scene before then).
And so the pomegranate martini — which has both a homegrown fruit from grandma’s backyard appeal, mixed with heavy mythological implications — wasn’t so random after all. Although I had absolutely no idea what the juice tasted like until last Christmas Eve, I forged an immediate and intimate acquaintance with it. When mixed well, the drink plays out like a less acidic cosmopolitan with a denser after taste.
And since they’re so trendy, I thought I’d order them from any bar I happened to land at in the course of a week. Without specifying that I was on a mission or knew my pomme-martinis well, I placed my order.
Winchester’s Grill and Saloon
632 E. Main St., Ventura,
I admire a good amount of experimentation, and on its own the Winchester brand was a solid sparkling cocktail — spritzy, sharp and tasty. But the pomegranate was under-represented and overpowered by the unexpected addition of pineapple.
Not an authentic pomegranate martini, but a new cocktail altogether.
4880 Telephone Road,
Macaroni’s concoction came closer to the deep, dark blend I was looking for. It was also a bit sparkly and the pomegranate factor too watered down. But they get extra points for being served especially chilled and with no distracting embellishment.
419 E. Main St.,
The clear winner. Definitely the purest of the bunch, this pomegranate martini actually tasted like spiked pomegranate and nothing else. You need only look at the color — bloodshot burgundy — to know that someone had enough foresight to keep a bottle of the real juice behind the bar.
It appears that most bars are stocking pomegranate liqueur in place of fresh pomegranate juice, which is like serving up a Lemon drop using a six-month-old bottle of Limencello. Luckily, I keep a bottle of organic pomegranate juice on hand for such an emergency. Admittedly, the Sorenson-brand Pomegranate Martini uncannily resembles Oprah’s recipe (plus a spritz of fresh lime juice.) There is one important distinction, however: I absolutely do not encourage the addition of sparkling water or lemon. And I purposely don’t specify what brand of vodka to use. After all, not all of us can afford to imbibe Absolut on a regular basis, Oprah.
2 parts vodka
1 part Cointreau, Patron Citronge Orange Liquer or generic triple sec
3-4 parts pomegranate juice (This is where to splurge – organic makes a
splash of lime
Shake in much the same way you would a martini and adorn with a lime spiral or novelty plastic cocktail glass bauble (I suggest the pink elephant).