Drink of the Week: Vanilla Bean Martini

Vanilla Bean Martini al Vento Vanilla-infused Stoli vodka; coffee liqueur $10

Deep in the softly-lit recesses of al Vento's elegant dining room, I huddle over the drink menu, eyes scanning for the perfect concoction. It's between 4 and 6 p.m., I think. Martinis are half off--so a martini it shall be. Just then, gaze falls upon this dark-hearted beauty, subtly sweet and beautifully mixed. I will make it mine.

"But wait," you might say. "Is this tonic at all unusual, now that anyone with a bar-tending license can slap together vodka and Kool-Aid in a conical glass and call it a martini?" I beg you consider, skeptical friend, my retort.

al Vento's magicians of mix, not content to put cheaply flavored liquor to the lips of their customers, have hand-infused their Stoli with the warm touch of vanilla bean. The results are astonishing. Instead of the roiling sea of saccharine we've come to expect from the fruit-tini crowd, vanilla and coffee flavors frolic together in a fresh spring of vodka, a light dusting of sweet coffee powder around the rim eliminating any bitterness. Welcome back, Flavored Martini. You're lookin' good.

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