Rant: Strawberry Basil Martini

rant martiniThere are a lot of things you can assume about a place called the California Pizza Kitchen.  Being a naturalized Oregonian I too carry a certain disdain for the California ideal and can point and laugh with the best of the moistened natural born locals.

Things will be made with blue corn and have too much cilantro.  Flatbreads and fusion food.  Things in wraps and pizza made with artichokes and garlic cloves.

I stopped into one to snag food before a late movie, this was a failing on my part as there were a couple of venerable Portland food cart outlets just outside the door and they were both cheaper and more interesting.

What struck me in their menu was the picture at the left.

If you’re read my rant about the Gingerbread martini you may already know my personal distaste for the overuse of the word Martini.

This drink you can see is about as far from an actual martini as you can drift and still be drinking a cocktail.  For starters, martinis are generally clear, not opaque.  A dirty martini might be a bit cloudy but in all you’re using far more clear spirits than not.

It contains, no gin, no vodka, no vermouth and nothing even remotely similar to any of the above.

Broken down, the VeeV spirit is a strange duck.  Their website seems to deal more with their sustainable business practices and business philosophy than with the taste and process of their product.  The Açaí berry is a tasty and popular little devil.  It’s a pain in the ass to type with the little Cedilla under the c mucking up the smooth flow of a good thought.  It’s a double pain to pronounce, Ah-Sai-ee, which is probably why they called this a strawberry basil, rather than an Acai-strawberry.  People get uncomfortable ordering things they can’t pronounce.

You’ll note the blurb doesn’t mention the giant basil leaf dropped in the middle of the glass.  I’m a big fan of putting herbs into drinks for scent notes and flavor bits.  In this case it just looks like a funny garnish, something I don’t want to eat because it’ll have gotten all mushy from the rest of the drink.

I’ve not had the Veev spirit solo, and their site doesn’t give you an idea of what kind of spirit you’re supposed to take it for.  If it’s a flavored vodka then it’s failing to park itself in the right market share.  If it’s an eau de vie like brandy then it’s a bit low brow for the normal target there.  If it’s a fruit drink it’s a little clear for a mixer.  Here it’s being used as a base spirit which confuses one as to if this is a weak drink or a fruity drink.

Next up is the strawberry puree.  Fruit purees are generally something you find in a daiquiri, which is then going to involve Rum.  If you call it a daiquiri people are going to expect a blended drink instead of something served straight up.  This could be a blended drink, but lacking anything but the picture to reference how is the diner supposed to tell if it’s going to be cold or icy?

Lastly we come to the only thing that really peaked my interest.  Agave sour, the name alone makes me want to play around with nectar and syrups.  I can’t tell if it’s supposed to take this in a tequila direction, be a low-glycemic replacement for the simple syrup in sour mix or if it’s a stab at a whiskey sour which is just lemon juice and spirit.

Sadly a half page picture and a bare 17 words are all we have of description.

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