Speaking off the toque: Richard Hazzard, bartender at Maggiano's Little Italy [2019 South Post Oak Boulevard, (713) 961-2700].
Q. As creator of the award-winning classic dry gin cocktail, the "Inner-and-Outer" martini, and a longtime observer of the industry, what do you think of the current fashion for creating such drinks as the green apple martini, the chocolate martini and the cognac martini?
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A. I do like the classic approach for myself. My Inner-and-Outer is shaken, not stirred, and is a 14-to-one martini, meaning the proportion of Boodles gin or vodka to Noilly Prat vermouth is 14 to one. Winston Churchill preferred that ratio and called his martini "The Montgomery," because he said that field marshal [Bernard Law] Montgomery preferred to go into battle when the odds were 14 to one against his forces. But I think anything that expands the ability of people to enjoy stemmed drinks, cocktails, is good.The new, sweeter martinis open a door for people who are shocked by the taste of gin or vodka. We all start out preferring sweeter tastes. The new martinis, such as the apple martini, may be a froufrou drink, but it allows people to skip part of the learning stage. It loosens up the guidelines. It brings women into stemmed-drink cocktails. Anything that encourages my business is something I'm for.