Secondary links

night talk:
The Great Martini Hunt

We were somewhere around Changshu Lu on the edge of Xuhui district when the vodka began to take hold. Very soon we would both be completely inebriated, but there was no going back – we would have to ride it out.

In an effort to unearth Shanghai’s perfect vodka martini – gin purists be damned – TALK’s two resident taste-testers, Jamie Barys and Carl Lorimer, recently sacrificed good sense and future liver function for this most noble of causes. Over the course of an increasingly hazy evening, five of Shanghai’s top cocktail bars were visited incognito and given a simple instruction, “Two dirty vodka martinis, please.”

1. Mardi Gras – RMB 68

The first stop of the night was Mardi Gras, a small bar above a casual French restaurant in the western end of the Concession. Under the tutelage of bartender Keisuke Kurihara, the bolthole has quietly developed into a reputable haunt for quality cocktails. Our first reflection on the drink was its small stature, but Carl found the intricate toothpicks to be rather neat. Stirred and made with Stolichnaya, it came with a solitary olive that could only be described as average. Taste-wise, Jamie felt the martini was “a little clean for me; not enough olive juice”. Carl concurred, “I like the hint of lemon, but it’s missing the briny goodness.” Overall, it was a respectable martini, even if there wasn’t much ‘dirty’ to it. Mardi Gras’ relaxing ambiance, jazz drifting from the speakers and attractive interior brickwork no doubt had a positive effect on the final score, a solid 3 out of 5 – not a bad way to start the night.

372 Xingguo Lu, near Tai'an Lu. Tel: 6280 7598

2. Constellation – RMB 70

Next up was the mighty Constellation, version 1.0, on Xinle Lu. Amusingly, the first thing Jamie noticed was the toothpicks were the same as Mardi Gras’; Carl was crestfallen. The glass was a very respectable size, but after taking a long look at it Jamie was moved to say, “I like my martinis like I like my men – murky – and this ain’t it.” A shaken Wyborowa concoction, both olive and lemon juice were added, along with the night’s only pimento-stuffed olive. Initially the outlook was good with Jamie declaring, “It tastes likes money.” Unfortunately we were soon thereafter hit with a jolt, when out of left field the sunken lemon half of the drink was reached. “A nasty surprise, like a Soviet submarine waiting silently in the deep, ready to ruin your day,” posited Carl. Curiously, after sampling each other’s drinks, Carl’s was found to be too lemony and Jamie’s to be an onslaught of olive – strange since they were made simultaneously. The lack of consistency, both across glasses and within, meant Constellation was only able to cobble together an average of 2.5 out of 5.

86 Xinle Lu, near Xiangyang Bei Lu. Tel: 5404 0970


Recent comments

Talk Partners

Talk Insider - Register now and win!

Upcoming Events