Craft Cocktails: Martinis & more for holiday cheer

THE MARTINI’S ORIGINS CAN BE TRACED back to a miner who struck gold in California during the Gold Rush, at least according to one popular theory.

During the days of the Gold Rush, a miner struck it rich and walked into a bar—in Martinez—for a special drink to celebrate.

The bartender put together what he had on hand—one part of very dry Sauterne wine and three parts of gin, stirred with ice and an olive—and called it a “Martinez Special.”

“Over a period of time the name Martinez (try to say it repeatedly) became martini,” according to the City of Martinez’ “The Martini Story.”

The world-famous cocktail is part of a growing trend of craft cocktails. Mixologists, AKA bartenders, are creating cocktails made from fresh-squeezed fruit and other fresh ingredients. Some are garnished with fresh basil, mint, rosemary, ginger root or other herbs.

Here are some of our favorite spots for martinis and craft cocktails in our region:

KANE’S
The martini menu with 16 choices. “The Perfect Ten Martini” is Tangueray #10 gin and dry vermouth, shaken and garnished with three olives. “Classic Cosmo-tini” is made with Ketel One Vodka, all-natural triple sec, cranberry juice and fresh lime. Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and Bombay Sapphire gin in your Greyhound cocktail. GV KanesRestaurant.com

MARIA’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT
A spectacular circular bar that offers top- shelf margaritas and other cocktails. Features over 70 high-quality tequillas and fresh, frozen drinks. GV MariasGrassValley.com

MONKEY CAT
An exotic setting, ideal for a classic martini, Manhattan or more adventurous cocktail. Cosmopolitans, Lemon Drops, Apple-tini and melon martinis at a Palapa bar or comfortable lounge and bar. Specialty drinks include a “Monkey Tai.” A Chocolate Espresso martini is made with espresso, vanilla vodka and Frangelico. Expertly shaken martinis are $6 during happy hour. Auburn MonkeyCat.com

TOFANELLI’S
A classic Gold Rush-era bar. The best Lemon Drops in town (made with a whole lemon). Fresh-squeezed OJ in your Mimosa. Excellent Bloody Mary (with homemade mix and “fresh” fixings). GV Tofanellis.com

There’s a Chocolate Bar in Reno and the Village at Northstar:

MANDARIN MARTINI
1/3 cup, strained, fresh-squeezed Mountain Mandarin juice
2 oz. top-shelf vodka
1 oz. orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)
Fill cocktail shaker with ice.
Pour in the Mandarin juice, vodka and liqueur and shake until chilled.
Serve in a martini class.
Garnish with a Mandarin “twist.”

(photo: Amber Gabrenas)

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