Your local editors took off from dining out this week, and instead we're re-posting this Chowdown Showdown from March.
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The idea of a "martini menu" is a sacrilegous concept to many drinkers and mixologists: Purists (and my dad) will tell you that the word "martini" should only be used to describe a drink made with gin, vermouth and olives.
More and more, however, bars are inventing lots of colorful, fun drinks shaken and served in martini glasses, which they then refer to as martinis. For this week, I went to three area places and asked for the most popular drink off their martini menus. For this showdown, I'm judging the customers' tastes as much as the bars that serve them.
, 19031 Old Lagrange Rd, Mokena
The Cosmo-rita stands out to any tequila fan in the drink menu at Stoney Point. With cranberry juice and a lime wedge, it certainly looks like a cosmopolitan, but the flavor is all margarita.
The good: Do not be fooled by its pink hue; there's nothing wimpy about this drink, which offers a great balance of fruit and tequila flavors and, importantly, isn't too sweet.
The bad: Because the drink looks so much like a cosmo, the tequila flavor may be startling to someone not expecting it.
, 1490 W Maple St, New Lenox
Off of their long, impressive list of specialty martinis, the bartender ensured me that the Tropical Martini is the bar's most popular. It is made with a variety of fruit juices and peach flavored vodka, but unfortunately, the peach vodka is the only flavor that stands out.
The good: Monday night is martini night, when Williamson's offers many of their specialty martinis for $5.
The bad: The unpleasantly artificial peach flavor of the Tropical Martini dominates the drink.
, 19917 S La Grange Rd, Frankfort
Of Chicago Blu's wide selection of $3-$7 specialty martinis on its menu, I was told that the $3 Berrytini is a customer favorite. While I was impressed that they didn't suggest the most expensive drink on the menu, I was disappointed that it was served in a plastic martini glass and annoyed that the entire outside of the glass was sticky (the menu said it would be served with a sugared rim, but more than just the rim was sugared). But most disappointing of all, the drink was simply awful.
The good: Chicago Blu has a large selection of specialty martinis served in unbreakable glasses, perfect for a gaggle of clumsy friends.
The bad: The Berrytini tasted more like cough syrup than any sort of berry that occurs in nature.
THE WINNER: Stoney Point Grill wins handily. Their delicious and clever Cosmo-rita is an expertly executed twist on two much-loved drinks.
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