Regardless of its title, the Mexican Martini will not be significantly Martini-like in building. However, in its native Austin, Texas, the drink’s rabid following and cultural impression put it on a par with the gin traditional.
An easy construct of tequila, Cointreau, contemporary lime juice and olive brine, shaken and served up in a salt-rimmed Martini glass, the Mexican Martini has been a staple at Austin’s Cedar Door for the reason that early Eighties, arriving by the use of Matamoros, Mexico.
As present proprietor Heather Potts tells it, a Cedar Door bartender named Ellen was served an olive brine–enhanced Margarita whereas on trip south of the border. Impressed by the cocktail’s sweet-salty profile and thirst-slaking capabilities, Ellen launched the concept to Cedar Door founders Gus and Diane Koerner. The drink was shortly adopted with a Cedar Door flourish: three pimiento-stuffed olives and a lime wedge, served with the shaker stuffed with the surplus drink on the facet so company might high up their glass—a presentation that’s been duplicated at bars and Mexican eating places throughout Austin.
In fact, as so typically occurs in cocktail lore, the Cedar Door will not be alone in claiming the Mexican Martini. Trudy’s, an area Tex-Mex chain, has lengthy asserted that the drink was invented there, the place it’s recognized as an alternative because the Mex-Mart. However Potts respectfully disagrees, saying that Cedar Door has documentation in its archives in regards to the cocktail’s migration to Austin.
“Ellen launched it, however it was late longtime bartender Jim LeMond who made it well-known,” she says. “Jim was a profession barman, an amazing storyteller; he had a approach of connecting with company and that made him instrumental, together with different staff, within the Mexican Martini’s success.”
LeMond was a beloved a part of the group, and so intrinsically tied to the Mexican Martini that it was referenced in his 2019 obituary. He was even quoted in The New York Occasions as saying, “Bartenders I knew would are available in and ask me the way to make [it]. And two weeks later I’d see it on their menu.”
Potts, a local Austinite, recollects that when she and her husband, Steve, purchased the 48-year-old bar from the Koerners in 2002, the Mexican Martini was already well-established as town’s unofficial cocktail, owing partly to its pared-back construct. “It’s only a quite simple, unpretentious drink,” she says.
In the present day, the drink is not any much less ubiquitous and riffs seem on menus throughout city, together with a “secret … spicy” model at Polvo’s restaurant and a jalapeño-stuffed olive-adorned riff at Chuy’s Tex-Mex. It could even be present in another Texas cities, however stays indisputably an “Austin factor,” says Potts. There, the drink acts as a cultural touchstone and summertime necessity.
“It’s a enjoyable, refreshing tequila cocktail that’s candy, salty and acidic without delay; excellent for a metropolis with scorching climate and stuffed with patios,” says Erin Ashford, proprietor of the forthcoming Eastside bar Vacation, the place she’ll be introducing Austinites to a frozen Mexican Martini made with tequila, triple sec, lime and an olive brine float. “Whereas I really like the interactive facet of presenting the traditional with the shaker, they take up area on the desk and it’s messy having individuals pour their very own,” she says. “I figured the one solution to serve it with out letting company down was to alter the format.”
Potts, for her half, is a stickler for the traditional, writing off variations with unorthodox additions like orange juice or Sprite as heresy. She prefers her Mexican Martini “shaken onerous for a frothy, icy drink.” However most essential to her is the drink’s connection to her hometown. “When individuals inform me why they love the Mexican Martini, it all the time goes hand-in-hand with town’s laid-back vibe and the tales instructed whereas imbibing,” she says. “It’s a cocktail meant to be shared over lingering dialog.”