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Ask A NYC Bartender: Your Best Martini Recipe

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Martinis are frequently associated with the line from James Bond in which he says they should be "shaken not stirred." This distinctly American drink has its origins in either San Francisco or New York. Primarily made of gin, the martini rose in popularity during Prohibition in the United States. This was because it was relatively easy to manufacture illegal gin at this time. Read on to discover four recipes of this classy cocktail drink.

Gary Weingarten
Verlaine NYC
110 Rivington St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 614-2494

Gary Weingarten is one of the owners of Verlaine. This popular martini bar has been in business on the Lower East Side for 14 years and was named after Paul Verlaine. Verlaine was a 19th century French poet. The bar doesn't just serve a good martini but fantastic food as well. On your visit to Verlaine, you can have a delicious meal of one of its small plates like the coconut curry, or one of the Southeast Asian tapas. In regards to martinis, Weingarten says: "I always say, nothing makes a great cocktail better than fresh ingredients and a vigorous shake. Many people not in the industry see bar tending or 'mixology' as a complicated task that one needs to go to school for. But a little experimentation and a little guidance on proportions can make anyone look like a pro. These will definitely impress your friends at your next cocktail party."

Mr. Weingarten has worked in the bar industry since 2000 after he found a job tending bar. He, Michael Gatlin, the DJ of a friend and Cliff Williams, a promoter and restaurateur, decided that they wanted to create their own bar. Their bar would be a laid-back place in which "everyone would feel at home." Thus, Verlaine was born on the idea that the cocktail drinks that Gatlin and Weingarten would create would be amazing and unique. Weingarten says, "I found that Southeast Asian ingredients make for amazing drinks — passion fruit, mint, ginger, lemongrass — and decided that regardless what the rest of Verlaine would be, the drink menu would be Southeast Asian inspired. Like any good bartender, it was trial and error (and fun) coming up with new and creative recipes. The drinks I gave you are variations on what we serve now at Verlaine." If you would like to know more about the drink recipes below, feel free to contact Gary Weingarten at

Fleur du Mal

  • 2.5 oz Fair Quinoa Vodka
  • 3 thin slices of cucumber
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped hot pepper
  • 2 oz passion fruit puree
  • .5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar


  1. In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber and hot pepper until the ingredients look like a puree.
  2. Add the vodka, passion fruit, lime juice and agave and about one cup of ice.
  3. Shake vigorously. The key to a delicious infused cocktail is all in the shake.
  4. Strain over a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

This drink is spicy. For more spice, add more chopped hot peppers. It's also great with just the cucumber.

Related: NYC's Best Bars For A Martini

Lawnmower (named after the chards of mint that give this martini a refreshing kick)

  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 1.5 oz sake
  • 2.5 oz passion fruit puree
  • Sprig of fresh mint
  • Teaspoon agave nectar


  1. Muddle three to four mint leafs in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Make sure the leaves get a good pounding (beating??) so that you end up with tiny chards of mint at the bottom of the glass.
  2. Add one cup of ice, the cucumber vodka, sake, passion fruit and agave.
  3. Shake vigorously. Strain into a wine or martini glass. The chards of mint will settle nicely throughout the glass.
  4. No garnish required.

Related: NYC's Top Luxury Cocktail Bars

Horatio (created by Xavier, a bartender at Verlaine)

  • 1.5 oz Prairie Organic Gin
  • 2.5 oz passion fruit puree
  • 3 lime wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar


Fresh ginger is an ingredient that should be included in anyone's cocktail-making repertoire. For the Horatio, it's best to muddle the ginger and limes until you get a nice juicy base at the bottom of the mixing glass.

  1. Add the gin, passion fruit, lime juice and about 1 cup of ice.
  2. Shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into a 10-oz glass filled with ice. Or if you enjoy some pulp from the muddled ginger and lime, you can simply pour the entire mixture (ice included) directly from the shaker into a 10-oz glass of your choice.
  4. Top with a dusting of Smokey Black Tea Infused Seasoning from Sanctuary-T in Soho.


  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 1.5 oz sake
  • 1.5 oz jasmine tea (unsweetened)
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 3 thin-sliced cucumber slices


  1. Muddle the cucumber in a mixing glass.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a martini glass.
  5. Garnish with a cucumber slice. You can substitute the jasmine tea for any flavored tea of your choice. If you use a tea that is sweetened already, then skip the agave nectar.

Related: NYC's Best Bourbon Cocktails

Tracy lives in the downstate area of New York. Some might call her an avid graduation affectionate (MA, Fordham University & MLS, SUNY Buffalo). She'd say she's just waiting for the right degree to come along with a promise and a ring someday. Her work can be found on

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