For folks who inevitably order a martini every time they go out on the town, it can be difficult to upgrade what’s already arguably a perfect drink. However, restaurants all over New York City have set their sights on giving the classic cocktail updates and upgrades, from adding caviar “bumps” to creating a brine that takes weeks to perfect. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most luxurious, wild and over-the-top martinis in New York, including a savory sun-dried tomato fusion and a green mango martini inspired by snacks on the subway.
The Bilbao Martini at Temple Bar
332 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012
This dimly-lit, buzzy celebrity hot spot is a must-visit for a perfectly made martini. In fact, Temple Bar might just have the most infamous martinis in New York City at the moment, because for an extra $20, guests can add a “caviar bump” to their ‘tini of choice, which is exactly what it sounds like.
The Bilbao Bar martini is made with gin and uses anchovy oil; other inventive martini offerings include the “Summertime Sadness,” made with elderflower and cucumber, and the Salt & Pepper Martini, which includes saline and celery and is delightfully sippable.
Sam Ross, a partner at Temple Bar, told Observer that “slurping up caviar off the back of your hand is actually a traditional way of consuming caviar, but the idea of doing ‘bumps’ came from an amazing bar and restaurant in San Diego.” Ross thought said “bumps” would be the perfect pairing with a salty martini, and he was right, as the cocktail has been a major hit with customers (recent patrons include Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner).
Ross describes the unexpected addition as a “great little gift we can send out to our regulars,” and calls it “one of those show stopping events,” comparing it to the restaurant rush when sizzling fajitas arrive tableside at a Mexican restaurant. “When they’re presented in a bustling room, every other table wants to get in on it,” Ross said, describing the one-of-a-kind experience as a “bonding ritual.”
The Dirty Umami Martini at Sartiano’s
99 Prince St, New York, NY 10012
Is a filthy martini not quite dirty enough for you? Venture to Sartiano’s for the Dirty Umami Martini, a savory, elevated upgrade that takes weeks to create. Bond Hospitality and Sartiano’s beverage director Adam Baca told Observer, “The brine itself takes a week to make, as we infuse it with three different olive brines, a mix of herbs and spices, capers, peppercorn brine with a sheet of Kombu seaweed to draw out the umami flavor all balanced out with a little bit of verjus.” The brine isn’t the only element that sets this cocktail apart from the rest–it also comes with a spoonful of truffle caviar that Baca promises “enhances the umami perfectly.”
The Tomato Martini at elNico
288 N 8th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Craving a truly savory martini? Try this Tomato Martini, made with sun dried tomato-infused blanc vermouth, pickled vermouth and koroset, which adds minty and herbal flavors, as well as tomato
Leo Robitschek, the beverage director at elNico, came up with the concept and told Observer he enjoys “pushing the boundaries regarding seasonal and savory ingredients.” Robitschek explained that the “cocktail is brought to temperature in the freezer and then poured in a chilled coupe,” before it’s finished off “with a pickled Sungold tomato and a drop of basil oil.”
The Page Turner Martini at The Press Club Grill
1262 Broadway, New York, NY 10001
The Press Club Grill embraces nostalgia and will bring guests back to the Mad Men days (which means you could always indulge in a lunchtime martini, just like Don Draper). Bar director Max Green (who was previously at hot spot Amor & Amargo) wanted the cocktail program “to pay homage to the classic, while bringing a bit of contemporary flare into the mix,” which is how the drink came about.
The Bombay Dry Gin-based cocktail is made with a pickled red cocktail onion, a mix of vermouths and a homemade honey tincture with orange bitters. Green said they mix the cocktail up in advance, and let it sit in the freezer.
The Green Mango Martini at Superbueno
13 1st Ave., New York, NY 10003
Don’t feel like sipping a savory cocktail? Try the Green Mango Martini at this always buzzing Mexican-American cocktail lounge, which was inspired by subway vendors who serve up fresh mango topped with spicy tajin. The Patrón is infused with green mango for 24 hours, and then topped off with chili oil for a spicy kick and honey for sweetness. Co-owner Ignacio “Nacho” Jimenez crafted the creative cocktail and described the combination as “refreshing, round and smooth.”
The Peanut Butter Espresso Martini at Mad Bar & Lounge at the NH Collection
22 E 38th St, New York, NY 10016
An inventive martini roundup would be incomplete without an espresso option. This hotel bar, which also channels Mad Men vibes thanks to its Madison Avenue location, pays tribute to the ad agencies of the ‘60s. Mixologist and head bartender Phil McKenna crafted a Peanut Butter Espresso Martini for the fall cocktail menu, which includes peanut butter screwball whiskey, espresso, half and half and a bit of house-made simple syrup, and is garnished with a peanut butter stick as a decadent treat.