Friday, October 13, 2017

Odgen's Martini Menu, a pleasant blast from the past

The original Ogden's at Howard and Lodge streets in Albany.
Restaurants that last more than a decade increasingly are a rarity in the Capital Region. True, we still have the obvious long-term icons such as Jack's Oyster House in downtown Albany and Manory's in downtown Troy, for example, both established in 1913, but others of that ilk are rare.

One of the already-established Albany restaurants I began frequenting in the 1970s and regularly patronized until it closed in 2002 was Ogden's. Housed in a onetime electric company office building, it was a very popular spot for intense business lunches, luscious upscale dinners, and had a great little bar just steps inside the entrance located at the top of a set of steps on a corner of Lodge and Howard streets, now home to the decidedly downscale City Beer Hall.

(The venue reopened under different ownership as Daniel's at Ogden's about a year after the original Ogden's closed, but that was a short-lived effort that paled in comparison to the original).

I was reminded of the old Ogden's the other day when my better half was thumbing through a cookbook and found a copy of "Ogden's Martini Menu" tucked between some pages. It was an eye-opener because the 16 possibilities it contains were imaginative without being too gimmicky like so many modern cocktail menus. Many of the drinks utilized various brands of gin, the original base of the martini compared to today's American preference for vodka.

It also brought back memories of dropping in early for a pre-dinner martini and finding several waitstaff members helping the bartender stuff olives with bleu cheese. They were for an elegant but simple martini called the Parisian made with Belvedere or Beefeaters gin. Substituting a black olive stuffed with a pearl onion turned it into a Black Pearl.

There were a number of what then were considered modern or exotic drinks. Among them:
• The Chocolatini -- Grey Goose vodka or Bombay Sapphire gin with a dash of Godiva Liqueur and Creme DeCacao and a sugar rim.

• Skyy Blue -- Skyy vodka or Bombay Sapphire, Blue Curacao, dash of fresh orange juice, garnished with an orange slice.

• Cosmopolitan -- Absolut Citron, Absolut Kurant, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice, orange twist.
Scroll down for the recipes for all 16 of the martinis on the menu.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

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