From the moment I could order alcohol, a dirty vodka martini has been my drink. I love the sheet of crisp, cold vodka and the briny green olives. Stuff them with blue cheese and I’m in heaven. Growing up a fan of old James Bond movies may have had a huge part in this. I saw the Mastering Martinis class listed on the website for the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning Classes and knew I had to be there.
A group of 15 students sat along the bar at Kristauf’s Martini Bar eager to learn the intricacies of Mastering Martinis. Two talented bartenders and co-owner Jill Christopherson instructed the class. Kristauf’s Martini Bar has a great selection—everything from traditional drinks to fruity concoctions were thoroughly explained and tasted. We started with classic martinis, learning the difference between wet (vermouth swirled in the glass and poured out) to dry (three drops of vermouth). We also covered the “shaken vs. stirred” controversy. Shaking the cocktail supposedly bruises the alcohol, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Bruising means that the alcohol has a bit of time to mingle with the ice, which wakes up the flavor. Side note: You’re not supposed to drink the fist martini—they expected you to sample it and put it back in the shaker with varying degrees of vermouth. Baffling. If you put a drink in front of me, I’m going to drink it. With that hiccup behind me, the rest of the class went smoothly. Drinks were sampled in tiny little paper cups (maybe because they were afraid I would drink it all) and, at the end, our class was able to order a full drink off the menu.
The Crisp Pear was my favorite drink we sampled. A lovely combination of Grey Goose La Poire (French for “pear”) with pineapple juice, Peach Schnapps and topped with bubbly Brut Champagne. The taste of fresh pear came across clearly without being saccharine. I can imagine spring evenings, mixing drinks and talking for hours on the front porch with this drink. I also appreciated the Kimmie Come Lately: Finlandia grapefruit vodka mixed with gin. It has lemon notes tart enough to zap your tongue but it’s still candy sweet.
My husband ordered the Konsummate Kristauf’s for his final indulgence. The Finlandia grapefruit played a big part of this drink, along with a dash of honey water and a hint of floral from the St. Germaine elderflower liqueur. Delicious. I chose to end the class on a traditional note with a filthy gin martini, mixed with plenty of olive juice and garnished with two blue cheese–stuffed olives. Just perfect.
Our class was a fun group, chatting with each other, sharing drinking stories and favorite cocktails. My husband and I both branched out by trying new drinks, learning the lingo and becoming acquainted with flavored vodka, which we’ve both been suspicious of. I think we’ll return to Kristauf’s Martini Bar, the atmosphere was mellow and fun and the drinks were outstanding!