Kersten Rettig: My Top Five Places to Sip Martinis

Shaken, stirred, olives, lemon twist, gin, vodka, dirty, dry. Gah!

Martinis are confusing. Add the proliferation of cocktails served in the iconic conical, long-stemmed glass that declare themselves martinis but really aren’t, and sometimes you really don’t know what the heck you’re drinking.

Longtime readers know that I mostly overlook made up holidays, such as National Hazelnut Cake Day which was weakly celebrated June 1, but sometimes embrace them. Nothing against Hazelnut Cake, but I’d rather focus on the upcoming National Martini Day which is June 19.

As a child born in the ’60s, I was parented in ways today’s parents may find horrifying (but look how I turned out!). My dad drank martinis, gin and stirred, and, on occasion, would give me the discarded ice cubes with drops of Beefeater’s and Dolin still clinging to the cube.

Martini juice never touched my lips again until last year when I was feeling sassy and ordered one.  It was bracing but smooth, cold, strong but not “hot” with too much alcohol on my palate. With my newfound appreciation of martinis, I started visiting restaurants and bars around town and have developed a list of my favorite places to enjoy a martini.

The Mitchell Martini PHOTO: KR

The Mitchell
This is one of my favorite places in Dallas.  The vibe, drinks, food, and the people who own and operate it are awesome. The Mitchell’s martini is made with Whitley Neill London Dry Gin and served in a Nick & Nora cocktail glass, named for the 1930s fictional detectives. This glass is considered to be a bit more elegant than the typical martini glass. Served with a lemon twist, it’s just about perfect. Pro tip: Order the baked brie to nosh on while you’re sipping. It’s outstanding. 1404 Main St., Downtown Dallas

Bar Colette
Elegant, unpretentious, and a place to feel pretty, Bar Colette also serves exceptional cocktails created by Michelin anointed Rubén Rolón served in the most gorgeous barware in town. Bar Colette’s Classic Martini is as sophisticated yet understated as the bar itself. Made with gin, orange bitters, and garnished with a lemon twist, Rolón uses a three-to-one ration of gin to vermouth. Drink a martini here and you might think you’re in a James Bond movie. 3699 McKinney Ave., Suite 306. West Village, Dallas

Olives in Dakota’s Martini are smaller than they appear
PHOTO: Dakota’s

I believe steakhouses are obligated to serve an excellent martini, and Dakota’s does. I like the clubby, subterranean feel of the restaurant and enjoy a single martini before digging into my beef wellington. Theirs is called the Martini of Extravagance and uses Vodka Kástra Elión Greek Vodka, Carpano Bry and Blanco Vermouths and black lemon bitters. I love this vodka, it’s so smooth and soft. The black lemon bitters give the drink a decidedly different, but delicious flavor. 600 North Akard St., Downtown Dallas

Joey Dallas’ Martini is ice cold. PHOTO: Joey

Joey Dallas
Joey Dallas is a swanky new place to eat and drink. I personally like to have an adult beverage before I go shopping; stores like it, too, especially Gucci. Joey’s version is great because it’s ice cold and comes with three stuffed green olives which I believe counts as a salad. Joey’s bartenders use Ketel One and dry vermouth for their straightforward effort. If you’re there between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays, you can take advantage of Joey’s happy hour menu which includes its signature Steak and Bianco Ravioli. 8687 N. Central Expressway in NorthPark Center, Dallas

Zest Café’s zesty martini PHOTO: KR

Zest Café
Zest is an outlier on this list. The bright corner café in Snider Plaza might be better known for its salads, sandwiches, and killer avocado toast, but they make a delish martini. You can partake in the quaint bar in the back, the patio, or in the main dining room. Though it’s not a traditional martini, it made my list because it’s thematic, made with zesty grapefruit juice, Cointreau and Kástra Elión Vodka. The pink drink is served in a coupe glass and is not too sweet. Overly sweet “martinis” are filled with a lot of sugar and sweeteners and that, friends, is why you feel shaky and sweaty in the middle of the night after consuming them. Or so I’m told. 6730 Snider Plaza, University Park

If you celebrate Martini Day, please do so with a designated driver and care. Cheers!

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Kersten Rettig

Kersten Rettig is the only DFW Food/Travel writer with luxury hospitality leadership experience and a former restaurant owner, employee, and chief marketing officer. Kersten's worked on the inside and has the insight and experience to tell the stories to the outside. She's a Park Cities resident, mom, wife and a decent cook. Follow her on Instagram @KerstenEats.

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