Beverage A La (Martini) Cart
perfect complement to dinner is a well-conceived drink. And while a California Chardonnay or full-bodied red may do the trick, beverage programs have embraced the craft cocktail. Bartenders are given creative license to procure quality spirits and concoct housemade infusions. Sometimes, an eye-catching presentation paired with a memorable name draws attention. How does an upscale establishment such as Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak up the ante on cocktail culture? By customizing them tableside, of course.
Situated within the main level of Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, this outpost of the popular dining room improved upon its already polished service by introducing multiple dishes that are finished and presented at your table. A signature dish at all of his restaurants, Mina offers Maine Lobster Pot Pie in a copper pot. The tableside cart it’s rolled out on includes an area for the server to plate the meal, contributing to the guest experience. A newer offering, his take on a traditional seafood tower showcases a cast-iron, broiled shellfish platter that’s finished at the very last moment with a lemongrass tea pour over to stimulate the senses.
It was a natural progression to extend the interactive aspect to beverages. And not just any drink, but the classic martini. To do so would require the assistance of one notable name in spirits: Nolet’s. They not only designed, the team at Nolet’s Gin collaborated with Mina Group’s Beverage Director, Benito Martinez, to create a custom martini cart, finished with a layer of green onyx. With the proper equipment in place, all that was left was to curate a selection of recipes.
There were five styles of martinis to choose from: Classic, Dirty, Floral, Fresh and a Vespertine. The method for each was the same. First, take all ingredients (minus garnish), and place into a mixing glass before adding ice. Then, briskly stir; never shake, as this would result in the ice melting too quickly. Next, single strain the mixture into a glass and sidecar. And finally, the garnish is your finishing touch. A Vespertine is an ounce each of both Ketel One Vodka and Nolet’s Silver Gin, .75 ounces Cocchi, plus the same amount of Chareau.
Bourbon Steak’s bar team of Jenny Bucchagen, Aaron Thun and Corey Pardue executed the many options. With the exception of their Vespertine, the primary difference between other recipe styles was the use of either Ketel One or Nolet’s as the base spirit. Classics factored in a French vermouth blend, orange bitters and lemon peel. Dirty martinis incorporated Castelvetrano olive brine, olive oil drops and skewered olives. Florals offered lavender bitters, plus a rose water spritz with a rose petal-crusted glass. Fresh versions used cucumber-peach bitters and matching mint tincture spritzes with equally minty bouquet garnishes.
Parched patrons can rest assured that regardless of their martini selection, the rolling cart will make its way to their tableside for a custom experience.