|Cucumber and vodka await summertime apotheosis: the Mott Street Martini. Photo by Elaine Wolff|
It also seems wrong when a culture that’s been deified in the U.S. as the pinnacle of elegant minimalism is called upon to justify martini violations better suited to an umbrella than an olive. A “quintessential sake martini” made with gin and Curacao? No, thank you. A Zen Martini made with Absolut Citron infused with green tea? I must decline.
But it’s un-American to eschew progress or better international relations in the name of purity. Leave it to New York to solve the dilemma, drawing on its business-minded melting-pot muscle for the beautifully austere Mott Street Martini, named for Chinatown’s main drag and served at the Iroquois’s Triomphe restaurant and bar. Although you need to prepare a day ahead, the Mott Street is a breeze to concoct, and it makes you an instant black-belt in the homemade-vodka-infusion school.
— Elaine Wolff
Peel and dice one large cucumber per liter of vodka — “any brand,” said the Iroquois’s bartender in a disarming French accent. I used economical Smirnoff. Put the cucumber and vodka in a covered glass container and let sit at least 24 hours before cocktailing. Strain as you use, leaving the cucumbers to continue flavoring the remaining vodka.
Mott Street Martini
To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add:
2 parts cucumber-infused vodka
1 part sake (“any brand” the bartender said, again; I used Gekkeikan)
the juice of one half lemon per two martinis
Shake well, or stir if you prefer, and strain into well-chilled martini glasses. Garnish with a cucumber wedge if you must.