In Martini felicitas
My bibulous mission continues apace, and while there has been the odd hiccup (an occupational hazard), I've now sampled nearly a third of all bars in Wellington. Carrying on with my Martini-reviewing sub-quest, here are a few more reviews for your edification.
Smooth, elegant and old-fashioned, with lovely rich vermouth flavours. Admirably, the menu states the gin to vermouth ratio (5-1, which explains the vermouth dominance of the flavour), and the ingredients are beyond reproach (Tanqueray and Nolliy Prat) . This would have been a 9 if it had been just slightly colder and the olives hadn't been impaled on a silly metal fork with a plastic orange on the end, thus diminishing the gravitas of an otherwise classic rendition.
Well balanced & delicious; fairly smooth with a slight peppery edge. Two olives, unusually floating free at the bottom rather than on a stick: some purists would frown at this, claiming that a stick is required to "give the drink an axis".
I had high expectations from a bar that specialises in gin, but these were not quite met. I took the bar manager's suggestion of Inglewood gin, an organic brand that I haven't seen elsewhere. I should have stuck with good old Tanq: while it was crisp, smooth and almost cold enough, it was just too bland, with not enough botanical character.
Mercury Lounge: 7
Just a hint of spiciness to give a touch of character; otherwise, quite smooth but not quite cold enough.
The barmaid asked for my gin preference, which always inspires confidence. I went for Tanqueray, and was rewarded with a Martini that was all present & correct, but not spectacular. The (apparently standard) 3 olives were speared on the same style of bamboo cocktail stick favoured by the Southern Cross (available at Moore Wilson Fresh, as I have since discovered).
Vespa Lounge: 4
Unbalanced and "hot" (dominated by an overly alcoholic mouthfeel) with no botanicals in evidence. Even worse, it was pretty much tepid. They've got a cheek calling this a Martini: it's not a Martini, it's warm Bombay Sapphire in a glass. They've got even more cheek charging $16 for such a travesty! Still, what do you expect from a bar that feature Perky Nana-infused vodka?
Expect more reviews as time and health allow. In the meantime, I should give the full text and source of the Latin tag that I used as a title: it's In vino veritas, sed in Martini felicitas, cribbed from Grampy's post to an entertaining Martini-related thread on roadfood.com. Oh, and by the way, Hadyn: now that you're on a mission to review every "big breakfast" in town, how about combining the two and asking for a "Pork Martini"? Warning: following that link is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.