BEST MARTINI - 2000
The liquor proletariat has slammed TOC for its downtown prices and decidedly loose definition of a martini (not to mention its continuous milking of the shapely cocktail's vogue, which appears to be fast on the wane). But let's face it: "Real" martinis are for balding Forbes subscribers and pretentious Rat Pack wannabes. If you're going to revive something, why not nix the nostalgia and reinvent it altogether? Enter: the Margarini ($6.75), a summery blend of Cuervo Gold, Grand Marnier, sweet & sour, and lime juice; the 3 M's, a well-disguised Maker's Mark Manhattan ($5) with bitters, vermouth, and a cherry; and Karlo's Chocolate Martini ($5.50), a dessert-minded mix of Godiva liqueur and Absolut vodka with a clever dusting of Belgian chocolate along the rim. Table's bartenders are not only exceedingly creative with their decadent array of postmodern 'tinis, they're also genuinely gifted at shaking (or stirring, if you prefer) and pouring them into a classic Y-shaped vessel before your thirsty eyes. Must come from lots of practice: They've taken this Best-of title for four years running. Paying seven bucks for a martini--even a supersized "Big Funky Martini" may seem outrageous to people who'll settle for gin out of a plastic bottle. But show up during happy hour, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and they'll give you half off just like everybody else does.