The copper bar is tucked into the corner of the front room at Cafe Perrier [4304 Westheimer, (713)355-4455]. There is a large framed photo of an older Cafe Perrier hanging on the wall behind it. The bartender tells us that chef and owner Frédéric Perrier's grandmother is the little girl in the foreground. The bartender says he specializes in martinis, and I ask him if he makes a French one. He suggests a Pernod martini, a perfect fusion of urban Houston and rustic France.
Cafe Perrier's Pernod martini: Pernod is a licorice-flavored aperitif that is very common in French bars. Out in the countryside, cheaper brands of pastis, like Ricard, are the preferred drink of farmers, mechanics and blue-collar workers who like to pound a few down with their morning coffee. The clear liqueur is usually served in a small glass; the drinker adds a splash of water, which turns the drink a cloudy yellow. In this martini, the cloudy Pernod forms a separate layer under the clear vodka.
2 shots Absolut vodka
Splash of Martini & Rossi dry vermouth
1 shot Pernod
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In a shaker with a half-cup of ice, mix vodka and vermouth and shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Gently pour the Pernod into the glass. Serves one.