Whose leg must one hump to get a proper martini around here?
O: Old-school with vermouth.
G: Interesting, artful or delicious garnish.
H: Hemingway would approve.
E: Unique drinking experience.
$: A bargain.
S: Huge gin selection.
B: Feel the gin burn.
The dry gin martini is to cocktails what Sean Connery is to James Bond. Definitive. Classy. Capable of beating your brains out with just two punches. But finding the real martini deal--made with just enough vermouth--has become a serious treasure hunt. Bars are overrun by trendy young 'tenders whose idea of a lip-smacking martini is chilled Grey Goose served up. Idiots! Never fear. This field guide is your Diana, goddess of the hunt. We've chased down the perfect martini, gut-shot it and nailed its ass to the wall. Because we care.
If You're Feeling Philly-Centric
Philadelphia-distilled Bluecoat gin is the basis for the Ritz-Carlton's (10 S. Broad St. 215.523.8000) Cobalt martini--a gin 'n' vermouth job garnished with blue cheese, sun-dried tomato and garlic-stuffed olives. The dissolving blue cheese sweetens the drink, the vermouth mellows the gin and the garnish is substantial enough to ward off an empty-stomach hangover. Yum. O G E
If You Don't Mind Playing Dodge Cock
Even if you're a disco-loathing, man-hating lesbian homophobe with chronic penis allergy, don't let the aggressive man-on-man pickup scene at Valanni(1229 Spruce St. 215.790.9494) deter you. They make their martinis right (with just a splash of vermouth) and thoughtfully spear their olives on an extra-long wooden skewer so you don't end up fishing in your drink for a wimpy 3-inch olive pick. Insert your own skewer/pick penis gag here. O G
If You're Too Sexy for Vermouth
It's still hip 10 years after opening, but the Continental (138 Market St. 215.923.6069) is to blame for that wretched trend of shaking and serving spirits and calling them martinis. True to form, their gin martini was vermouth-free, but asking for their lemon twist stuffed olives as a garnish improved it a great deal. And yes, the mini martini glass and accompanying shaker is gimmicky. But in a good way. G E S
If You Actually Do Love Martinis
The hands-down winner is George at Southwark (701 S. Fourth St. 215.238.1888). Sidle up to his dark-wood bar. Check your hair once in the mirror, but be a little sly about it. Ask for a Boodle's martini, or consult their extensive list of gins and pick your own. Then sit back and enjoy, because on a sultry summer evening George's gin martini is like sticking your head under a cold, clear waterfall: refreshing, crisp, clean and just about perfect. O H E $ S
If High-Rolling Trumps Good Drinking
Philabeverage: Veggie Pairings