Tuesday, August 23

6 Spots to get Shaken, not Stirred

Salted Caramel Chocolate
Forget trying to find Sex in the City, that’s easy to get in any metropolis. But scoring a great martini? That’s a whole other drama. Stop anyone on the street in Indianapolis and they’ll tell you a place or two rather well known for martinis in town. But, are they the best…or just the best known?

Like that elusive great love, sometimes the hunt (and the wait) is worth the effort. Can there possibly be a place traditionally known for something else yet serve a great martini to boot? A martini so good you can’t believe more people don’t know about it?

Searching for the ultimate martini places in the Indy area, I found six spots with reputations for other menu items. Eateries that have the goods but keep the popular libation cloaked in secrecy much like super heroes (or attractive big screen spies) have alter egos in public.

Not necessarily your grandfather or dad’s version, either. Nowadays, as with so many other things, traditional martinis are no longer the norm. Ask for one these days and you can expect to hear, “Vodka, gin or rum?”

When did it change from the old-fashioned martini? You know the one: gin, bitters and Vermouth with an onion or olive. That drink has gone the same path as the three-martini power lunches. The reason is as simple as time. According to the bartenders asked, “Things evolve.”

So where are these top-notch liquid treats? Choosing the spot depends entirely on your mood, of course. But be assured all six are worthy of James Bond, Carrie Bradshaw and…you.

Mood: Self Indulgent
Martini: Salted caramel chocolate
Why: If you’ve ever had salted chocolate-covered caramels, you’ll understand
Restaurant: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
Best known for: Prime, corn-fed steak
Runner up: Cupcake-yes, it really tastes like one
Where: 45 S. Illinois St., t: 633-1313; w: RuthsChrisSteakhouse.com

Mood: Slightly Serene
Martini: Ginger-pear
Why: So much Zen, you’ll think you're in a Japanese garden
Restaurant: Palomino
Best known for: Fresh fish and portabella mushroom soup
Runner-up: Lavender Cosmo-serenity in a glass, with lavender sugar rim
Where: 49 W. Maryland St., t: 974-0400; w: Palomino.com

Mood: Down and Dirty
Martini: Dirty Greek
Why: Kalamata olives (and its juice) stuffed with goat cheese-‘nuff said
Restaurant: 14 West
Best known for: Prime beef and locally raised meats
Runner-up: Samoa-inspired by the Girl Scout cookies
Where: 14 W. Maryland St., t: 636-1414; w: 14west.com

Mood: Endlessly Romantic
Martini: Colts Perfection
Why: Imagine the lagoon in that cheesy teen-romantic '80s movie…it’s THAT dreamy blue
Restaurant: Shula’s inside the Westin
Best known for: Steak and wine
Runner-up: Post Game-best accompanied by their seven-layer chocolate cake
Where: 50 S. Capitol Ave., t: 231-3900; w: Shulas.com

Mood: Stressed Out
Martini: Yin-yang
Why: You need a little balance in your life.
Restaurant: The Melting Pot
Best known for: Fondue
Runner up: Strawberry Shortcake-complete with pound cake and strawberry garnish
Where: 1259 State Road 135; t: 889-0777; w: MeltingPot.com

Mood: Chill Out
Martini: Classic
Why: The coldest damn classic martini in town
Restaurant: St. Elmo’s Steakhouse
Best known for: Shrimp cocktail and steak
Runner-up: Pomegranate-heavy on the pomegranate for nutritional purposes
Where: 127 S. Illinois St., t: 635-0636;
w: StElmos.com

Elizabeth J. Musgrave is a syndicated columnist, travel writer, performing arts and restaurant critic. Catch her as Indy’s Arts & Entertainment Adviser on 93 WIBC, and follow her on Twitter @GottaGo and Facebook. Gotta Go is published in M magazine and the following newspapers: South Sider Voice, Indiana Weekender, New Palestine Reporter, Pendleton Times Reporter and Fortville-McCordsville Reporter.


renee gabet said...

Just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it! I am located in Noble County and now I have more reasons to come to Indy. Looking forward to visiting the festivals next weekend. Renee Gabet - Annie Oakley Perfumery

Elizabeth J. Musgrave said...

Thanks Renee, Let me know if you find another great martini place while you are in town!