One of the biggest questions circulating at the Martini Mix-off this year is about the one ingredient we judges have yet to see: absinthe.
I've heard it said that it takes 20 years for trends to make their way to Boise, but I really don't want to wait that long for a local bar to provide absinthe service. Sure, the green fairy has risen and already fallen off the trendy wagon in more cosmopolitan cities, but we haven't even seen the emerald liquid in Boise anywhere other than the liquor store. And, since the 2007 relaxation of absinthe laws, effectively allowing absinthe to be sold again in the United States after a nearly 100-year ban, we still haven't seen it show up in any cocktail or martini at the Mix-off. By the time a bartender gets around to including it in a drink next year, it may be way past its popularity, even in a culinary backwater such as Boise. By golly, I haven't even seen foam served here yet.
The final Thursday night martini tasting happens this week. Then we're off to the finals and the gala. First up at 7 p.m. is Bardenay with Sean Earley shaking up the Bardenay Bond classic martini, the Masala Martini for the original category and the Sixth Sense cocktail. We hope we don't see any dead people after tasting those, but you never know.
At 8 p.m., we ride the trolley over to Piper Pub & Grill, where Danny Marchesini will deliver us a Chapter 7 classic martini, the Berry Picker original martini and the Blue Collar cocktail. The final pub on our list of nine bars this year is Tablerock Brewpub, where Sarah Proctor hands us a trio of named concoctions beginning with Judge Smails, the classic entry, followed by the original entry, Lacey Underall, and finishing with the Ty Webb cocktail.
Tickets, which include a coupon for a martini at every participating bar and entrance into the gala (location to be announced) on Saturday, June 6, can be purchased for $50 at any participating bar (Angell's, Bonefish Grill, Red Feather, Pair, Tablerock Brewpub & Grill, Piper Pub & Grill, Chandlers Steakhouse, Bouquet and Bardenay) or by calling 208-761-5918. For those who already bought their tickets and noticed that Bonefish Grill's coupon was not included, you can use the front cover of the ticket book for your martini. Don't forget, this year the judges ride around on the downtown trolley bus, which runs all night during the competition so you can catch a ride between all the bars.