At San Antonio’s historic Esquire Tavern, said to have the longest wooden bar in the state, beverage director Houston Eaves balances his respect for classic cocktails with a reverence for the city’s cultural heritage. Like other bars, of course, the Esquire is closed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Over the past two months, Texas Monthly has been highlighting some of the state’s best bartenders through the summer edition of the TM Happy Hour series, which features a cocktail recipe and video to show you how to make it at home, as well as information about a charity or nonprofit effort of the bartender’s choice. Eaves is ready to get back to work, so is a big supporter of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, a nationwide advocacy movement that is lobbying for legislative support of the $120 billion RESTAURANTS Act, which has bipartisan backing.
Staying at home during quarantine has led Eaves to appreciate the simplicity of the perfect martini. “There’s nothing more civilizing than an ice-cold martini, and when you’ve been in the same hoodie for a month, you could certainly use some civility,” says Eaves. To wind down our summer series, he walks us through how to make what he calls the 50:50 Freezer Martini. “This version of a martini allows the bolder navy-strength gin to mellow out with a nice vermouth.”
50:50 Freezer Martini
750 milliliters navy-strength gin (Eaves likes Hayman’s Royal Dock)
750 milliliters dry vermouth (Eaves likes Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry)
First, wash your hands for 20 seconds. Next, combine the contents of both bottles in a clean pitcher that can accommodate the 1.5 liters of total volume. Stir briefly to combine, then use a funnel to refill the empty bottles with the mixture and put tops back on. Place both full bottles in the freezer, wait a couple hours, and then pour yourself a martini, and another after that, and more for days to come! To increase civility: keep your cocktail glasses in the freezer too, express the oil of a lemon peel over the drink for enhanced aromatics, and enjoy some Castelvetrano olives on the side, or even add some olive juice to your mix if you’re really feeling frisky, and are willing to get dirty in this time of quarantine.