Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thank God for Sardi's

Last month, I went to New York City to visit my brother and, perhaps more urgently, see a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. By "Yankee Stadium", of course, I mean the real Stadium, in use since 1923 (when the Yankees defeated the Red Sox in the opening game) until now, and not the Yankee Stadium that was built next door. Since the Yankees are moving to their new stadium next year, my goal of sitting in the first base side bleachers in the house that Ruth built took on a new sense of urgency this year, but I was able to cajole my mother (who mastered spelling "baseball" for this trip) and brother (a transplanted Manhattanite; he required less cajoling) to attend the opening game of the last Red Sox series, played on August 26. Other bloggers have probably wondered out loud whether Alex Rodriguez would have hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh, rather than a weak double-play ball, if his annual salary was $29 million a year instead of only 28, but I did some other things while in town, including a classic "to-do" item: having a martini at Sardi's.

Sardi's is one of those bars with a reputation that it does or does not deserve depending on whom you ask. It's right in the theater district, and I think there was an era when you had time to get a cocktail there during intermission if your theater was close enough. I'm sure they have a full range of cocktails prepared by an expert bartender (the night we went, it was Jeremy) but I could only consider one libation while at Sardi's, and that is a martini. Living in Austin, a mixologist's backwater if (if) cultured in other ways, I have grown accustomed, when ordering martinis, to being asked whether I want gin or vodka. So I held my breath when I asked Jeremy for a Coke, a beer, and a martini. His inspired response: "Coming right up, sir!" Beautiful. We found a table near the wall full of caricatures from the bar's heyday, and I went back to the bar to get the drinks and some cheese and crackers. Jeremy then asked "What kind of gin would you like?" Of course, he had Tanqueray, which he then proceeded to stir -- stir! -- in a shaker of vermouth and ice before straining into a chilled glass with two olives.

Oh, what a beautiful martini. The Yankee game would have beat that for the best night I'd ever had in New York, but only if they'd beaten the Red Sox.

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