Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Readers respond to "Martini-Gate"

Back in May when I started writing this column, I suggested a few possible names for it to my editor. Despite the fact that the other Daily Sound columnists have titles for their columns, for example Leslie Westbrook’s Monday column is called “This and That,” my column is still simply called “Craig Smith.”

Well, after last week’s column, in which I protested the high price of a martini at the new Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and the reaction of some of you readers out there to it, I think I’ve come up with the perfect name for my column; “Shaken, Not Stirred.”
Nothing incurs the wrath of readers like a high priced watered down cocktail.
Here’s what some of you had to say.
Mike Holmstrom kicked things off with this e-mail to me: “In response to your questions about why Ruth's Chris charges $15 for a martini: I asked the same question to general manager Chris Goodyear during my dining visit on opening night weekend and he stated that the Ruth's Chris Martini is actually a double pour (I think he said the bartender pours the vodka for eight seconds instead of the normal four second pour). So what you are really getting is a drink twice as big and presumably twice as strong as any other martini in town. I enjoyed one myself and would have to say it's a pretty big martini.”
When I ran that e-mail on my blog last week I got this response from “Martini Sal;” “I too was stunned by the martini prices at Ruth's Chris (my Grey Goose martini was actually $18) and I too was told it was because of the double pour.
“The fact is, all martini's are double pours. Some places will actually charge an extra 50 cents or dollar for a straight up martini due to the ‘extra’ alcohol. But even with this extra charge (and even with expensive vodka) most places charge around $9 or $10 for call martinis.
“My $18 call martini at Ruth's Chris was no bigger than many places and was actually smaller than martinis at Chad's, Jill's Place, Trattoria Vittoria, Tee-Off and Paradise Cafe (and I'm sure there are others).”
And from a reader named Renee: “Funny that one of your readers stated that Ruth's Chris martini was ‘twice as strong’ as others...isn't a martini 100 percent alcohol to begin with? Unless it's dirty I guess. Anyway, I have a good, cheap martini recommendation for you - Shalhoobs (Jill's Place). You can get a great tasting, very good-sized martini during happy hour for $6.”
Renee, I can assure you I’ll be all over it.
Frank Frost writes; “Actually, Joe's and Harry's have always been famous for their 8-10 second martini pour and huge rocks glass, gin or vodka, for under $5. I'm a hearty drinker but I used to watch myself walking out after just one of them.”
Leave it to a former county supervisor to know where to find a good drink.
Kathy Rodriguez wrote; “The martini wars go on! Need I mention Harry's where you get your martini like a milk shake where you get the glass and the silver shaker with the excess? They pour at the table, what can fit in the large martini glass, and then leave the tall glass full of ice, more booze and the strainer at your table for you to refill your martini glass when you are ready. After one of those I have to walk to the car escorted and with one eye closed!!! AND I do not drive!”
And we’re all thankful for that.
And finally from George Yatchisin, the Independent’s food editor; “Craig, Next time you come to our house, I'll make you a real martini. Won't charge you a thing, and I use gin that sells for $30 a bottle.”
I didn’t know the Indy paid that well. What are you doing Christmas Eve?
If people ever get bored reading about the News-Press mess I have an idea for a new on-line column. I think that I’ll call it “The Three Martini Blog.”

* * *

You may have noticed that I occasionally have fun here at other people’s expense. One of my most recent victims has been Peter Kulevich, the newest addition to KEYT’s morning news team.
This past Saturday morning I was having coffee at the Daily Grind when a gentleman wearing a Red Sox cap approached me and asked, “Are you Craig?”
After I acknowledged that I was he extended his right hand and said, “I’m Peter Kulevich from KEYT.”
I was pretty impressed. Despite my efforts that day to disguise myself as a professional bicycle racer complete with wrap-around Oakley sunglasses, he recognized me. (They must have my photo posted on the news director’s bulletin board over at the station.)
Most of all I was impressed by what a good sport he was even though I have given him such a hard time over his on-the-air mispronunciations. (And no, he didn’t call me Craig Smyth.)
You know, Wendy McCaw could learn a lot from this guy.
And I should also mention that Joe Gehl, the 5 p.m. news anchor at KEYT who I have occasionally ribbed about his expressive eyebrows, has also been a good sport when we have run into each other.

* * *

This will be my last Wednesday column for the year. I’ll be on “hiatus” for the next two weeks but I can’t sign off for the year without congratulating my former students at Santa Barbara College of Law who recently got word that they passed the California Bar Exam. They are: Chris Biely, Brian Dewey, Collette Hillier, Chris Linz and Linda Liu.
Now that you’ve passed the State Bar it’s time for a trip to the martini bar!

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