Best of Houston

The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 5 Martinis

For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

There's something about the kind of place that specializes in a good martini -- a true martini, I might add, and not one made with vodka -- that typically lends itself to a certain clientele.

Customers ordering legit martinis are not the same people you'll find ordering appletinis at Midtown clubs or vodka martinis at River Oaks hot spots. Martini drinkers are, on the whole, a more mature set -- not necessarily in age, but in attitude -- and therefore more appreciative of liquor's taste, choosing not to mask it with sugary syrups or juices.

Many bars that specialize in the classic cocktail also have a darker side to them, too. Marfreless is a good example of the dirtier side of martini bars, and there's a reason that people have nicknamed the bar on Sandman "The Davensnort."

Keep your nose clean, though, and a true martini bar can be a thing of beauty.

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Katharine Shilcutt