BEST MARTINI (1999)
The standard martini is simple: gin served with a splash of vermouth and an olive. In recent seasons, though, the vast number of martini variants has watered down the definition of the cocktail to any liquor served nearly straight in a sleek, conical glass. Take, for example, the Black Martini (citrus vodka and Chambord with a twist) or the Jerry Gartini (Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, and Campari). Minneapolis's Table of Contents offers more than 20 different ways to test your sobriety, some traditional, some distinctly newfangled. Drink three and then try not to slosh the drink on your hand, your shirt, or your date. We don't mind the current emphasis on the martini's packaging over its alcoholic contents, we just ask that the establishments that serve it follow suit--and Table of Contents, with its refined furnishings, beautiful people, and low-key lighting, accomplishes just that. We also appreciate that the Table's martinis are served in slightly-smaller-than-average glasses, and priced accordingly; a five-and-a-half-ounce martini with Sapphire gin costs $6.20. Sure, we're drinking a cocktail immortalized in the '50s, but we may have to go to work in the '90s the next morning.