The Martuna: A Sandwich in Every Glass

phpajpIZ8PM “Do you have a cocktail list?” is one of the first questions I am often asked as a waiter in an upscale restaurant. It is one of the few questions I get to cheerfully answer with a big “no.”

“You should really have one,” is sometimes the response that follows. “Don’t you have a signature cocktail or something?”

No, we really, really shouldn’t and no, we do not.

And then I get to say something along the lines of “Well, we thought about it for a while, but Greeks don’t really drink cocktails– they drink wine, and beer, and ouzo. I suppose we could mix them all together for you, if you like.”

More often than not, they will need a moment to get the imaginary taste of that concoction out of their mouths and regroup. Quite often, their drink of choice ends up something depressing, like a Cosmopolitan, or something perfectly respectable but equally unimaginative, like a martini. And the  martini that is ordered is often done so incorrectly.

On one hand, I do see the point of cocktail lists. People seem to need help with their drinking. The thought of facing a full bar stocked with hundreds of liquors blended into thousands of different combinations is enough to pickle anyone’s brain, even before it has become clouded with alcohol and a little printed instruction can often help a drinker narrow his choices to those that the list-offering establishment feels it does best.

On the other, heavier hand, I am tired of the fact that nearly every watering hole seems to have a menu of “signature cocktails” There are a few places around town (Alembic, Aziza, and Clock Bar, to name a few good ones) that offer up delicious, inventive cocktails that are, in fact, unique and they rightly highlight them in menu form. It’s all the others I take issue with. The So-and-so Martini (made with Ketel One and a splash of cranberry!). That is not a signature cocktail, that’s called pushing premium liquor. It’s also called a Cape Cod in a Martini glass.

I am also tired of the general lack of creative naming. So many venues have several (insert noun here)-tinis: The Saketini, The Mangotini, The Weenytini, or The (insert name of venue) Cosmo.

Enough already.

If one is going to create a signature cocktail, I say make it memorable. Make a statement. Create a drink philosophy and apply it to your inventions. I have currently been looking for a way to help alcoholics get more nutritional bang out of their cocktails by creating a series of meals-in-a-glass.

When discussing this idea the other night over dinner, my friend Jen stared at her beer for a moment and declared, “You know what I like about beer? It’s like there’s a sandwich in every glass.”

And so the idea took off. All sorts of cocktail ideas poured out of my friends as quickly as the beer was being poured into them, all mocking the “tini” trend: The BLTini, The Pork n’ Beanitini, the super-spicy TNTini. And then, when discussing Nabokov, somebody came up with the Tweeni. I don’t even want to think about what might go into one of those.

So today, I leave you with a future, classic drink– my first “signature cocktail”. It’s much more than a drink; it’s an entire meal unto itself– a perfect little lunchtime tipple. And, to keep Jen happy, there’s a sandwich in every glass.

The Martuna

Serves one. It will most likely be the only one.

Ingredients:
3 parts vodka
1 part canned spring water from your favorite can of tuna. Do not use oil-packed.
Ice
Mayonnaise
Ruffles potato chips, crushed. Whichever flavor you prefer.
Cornichons

Preparation:

1. In a mortar and pestle, crush potato chips until fine, but not too fine– you still want a hint of their ridges to show. Empty the crushed chips onto a small, round plate in an even layer.

2. Smooth about 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise across the bottom of a similar plate. Gently coat the rim of the glass with the mayonnaise, then roll the now-wet rim into the crushed chips to create an even, attractive coating.

3. In a cocktail shaker, place ice, vodka, and tuna water. Shake vigorously.

4. Pour cocktail into the awaiting glass and garnish with cornichons.

Serve immediately.

Variations:

There are two classic twists on this All-American cocktail:

For a Martuna-on-Rye, replace the vodka with Akvavit.

For a Martuna Melt, simply swap out the mayonnaise for melted Velveeta cheese.

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About Michael Procopio

I write about food and am very fond of Edward Gorey. And gin.
This entry was posted in Liquids, Rants and Stories, Sandwiches and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Martuna: A Sandwich in Every Glass

  1. giddy says:

    This is the funniest thing I’ve seen in forever. How did it taste?

  2. Jay Floyd says:

    I’m simultaneously delighted and repulsed. It’s like thinking of Faye Dunaway eating a chili dog.

  3. Jackie says:

    How might one incorporate “Liverwurst Helper” into a snappy cocktail? I’m intrigued.

  4. michaelprocopio says:

    Giddy– Thank you. The flavors actually make sense, if you like that sort of thing. It is not a drink for the squeamish.

    Jay– I’m confused. Which part of that equation is delightful? I’m voting chili dog.

    Jackie– I can’t tell you how happy I was to read the phrase “snappy cocktail.” When all else fails, use the liverwurst as garnish. You could, perhaps, christen the drink “The Liver Rot.”

  5. Nicky D. says:

    It’s really the sort of thing Elvis might have ordered.

  6. OK … I can absolutely see this being served at a little soiree on “Mad Men.”

  7. michaelprocopio says:

    David– Actually, it’s more likely that the wives might get together for a lunchtime tipple, if there’s any tuna fish left over from making their children’s lunches.

    But maybe that’s just me.

  8. No, no — that’s it exactly! I had the time of day wrong, but there’s definitely “Mad Men” in there somewhere.

  9. KiltBear says:

    Got here from your photoshoot cum interview.

    I would actually drink this. I’m crazy for strong savory flavor. Very dirty martini anyone?

    I also love to put chips in my sandwiches. Overall though, it sounds like our preferences in liquor match.

    BTW, if you do want something surprisingly delightful, the white wine mojito at Park Chow is surprisingly delightful.

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