Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cinco de Mayo cocktails extend beyond margaritas

A dirty martini is a classic drink, and as a 24 year old most people wouldn't expect it to be one of my favorite drinks.  I like my martinis made with vodka, extra dirty, and with extra olives.  A classic is a classic, often percieved as foolproof yet easy to butcher.  So I get really excited when I have a stellar dirty martini.

This leads me to moderately pricey McCormick and Schmick's, yes...the seafood chain.  They have an amazing happy hour at all of their locations who's menu boasts a $2.95 cheeseburger and $3-5 drink specials.  Moreover, they started this campaign to rediscover American classics...meaning a new drink menu filled with nothing but old school martinis and drinks that will put hair on your chest.  Need I say more?  Anyhow, the boy, one of his coworkers, and I ventured out for a little happy hour on Cinco de Mayo that didn't have drunk college kids and boozy green goo referred to as a margarita so we ended up here, right under the happy hour wire at 6:15 (Happy Hour in Raleigh ends at a sinfully early 6:30 PM).  We sat down and took a quick glance ordered more food that is necessary for three people. 

My boyfriend (Steven), bless his non adventurous heart, ordered the signature half pound burger that at $2.95 has made McCormick and Schmick's happy hour gold.  I ordered fish tacos.  Coworker (Matt) ordered the BBQ quesadilla.  And for kicks, we got the peel and eat shrimp to share.  Now for the drinks...while Steven and Matt kept it tame with a corona and draft Guinness, I had to take it a step farther and exhibit my true inner yuppie; I ordered their signature Blue and Black Martini*.

Now this is no ordinary martini.  It starts with Absolut vodka and of course...vermouth.  As mentioned, I like it extra dirty so now add a copious amount of olive juice.  Now here is where this martini is amazing--bacon and blue cheese stuffed jumbo olives.  Yes, and we all know bacon makes everything better.  This martini was perfect, and it was truly an art watching it be made...bravo bar tenders.  This was a martini that had the right amount of freshness from the vodka, crispness from the vermouth, and saltiness from the olives.  Now for me, like fruit in sangria, the olives are to be eaten deliciously last.  These olives were amazing!  I expected a salty hot mess given the presence of a green olive, bacon, AND blue cheese but no...perfect balance.  The olives still had a nice bite and weren't soggy, the blue cheese was creamy and slightly sweet, and the bacon was salty and savory.  These olives made this martini.  All that glitters isn't gold.  Although this is a great martini $11.95 is not an appropriate price point for a cocktail in Raleigh, North Carolina, and at a chain no less!  I live in Washington DC, and that is the only place aside from New York or Miami that I find it appropriate on the east coast to charge $12 for a cocktail. 

As for the food, Steven was happy with his burger, I mean you really can't mess up a burger.  Same goes for Matt and the quesadilla.  My fish tacos were pretty good; it was refreshing to see a fish taco that had a nicely seasoned piece of grilled fish versus a fried beyond recognition lump of sea critter.  The queso fresco and sour cream were nice touches that complimented the Mexican inspired flavors of the fish.  Now my complaint.  There was a lovely tomato salsa, full of ripe juicy tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and onions.  Please explain to me why this amazing mound of produce was laid to rest under my tacos.  This led to some sogginess of my tacos...not appreciated.  Recommendation: put the salsa in the taco or in a ramekin on the side, also give me more of it because its delicious.  As for those peel-and-eat shrimp they were well seasoned (I'm guessing with Old Bay or something similar) but the cocktail sauce was for a 5 year old and in serious need or more horseradish.  Lastly they were kind of rubbery and overcooked which is a sin.

Overall, McCormick and Schmicks offers a great happy hour at a great price.  Its a great chance to try some of their menu items at clearance cost without cuts in quality.  So find your local McCormick and Schmick's, check the times, and go have a wonderful happy hour!


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