2012 Cityview Martini Fest10/3/2012
How did the martini become a girls’ drink? Seriously. They’re sipped from an awkwardly-shaped glass that makes it impossible to carry in stilettos without spilling — especially while on the dance floor. And since the days of Frank Sinatra, the martini has been touted by sophisticated, elite male icons in movies, television and advertisments. Yet, somehow, the once symbol of superiority and even snobbery among upper crust men has been emasculated by ladies’ night out.
What used to be made with dry gin and garnished with olives (if anything at all) has morphed like a caterpillar into a butterfly with the addition of chocolate, fruit and colorful splashes in such an array of varieties that martinis even now call for recipes.The once dull drink has transformed into a more visually and palpably appealing libation that’s as fun to look at as it is to drink — a work of exquisite art, much like the women who drink them. That fact is exemplified by the number of Coach bags, high heels and thigh-high hoses worn by ticket-holders passing through the entrance gate at Cityview’s Martini Fest four years straight.
“It certainly is more popular with females at this event, mostly because of the types of specialty vodka martinis that are served,” said Cityview publisher Shane Goodman. “But the guys like them, too. I do. And most guys I know like to go to events where there are a lot of women. That’s Martini Fest.
But this year, the addition of a Summit beer garden is putting hair on the chest of Martini Fest, brought to the event especially for the guys.
“We’re not changing a whole lot about the event, but the biggest difference this year is the addition of the Summit beer garden that Cabaret West Glen is hosting,” Goodman said. “Every year I sit at the gate at the entrance to Martini Fest, and it is predominately women I see — and the guys are grumbling while they’re getting dragged along. So we’re pleased Cabaret decided to host a beer garden and that Summit was willing to sponsor it.”
For years women lined up at the sampling stations, licking their painted lips while scanning a table of pretty martini samples — their dates politely hovering, ears perked and eyebrows high, searching for the beer. Within minutes bartenders throughout West Glen would find the guys bellied up to the bar with a brew, waiting for their ladies’ 10-sample tickets to max out.
So, thanks to Cabaret West Glen, Summit swooped in this year with a big red “S” on its chest and a beer in each hand to save the day — or night, rather — for the beer-only dudes who prefer to stick with good ol’ fashioned hops and barley (and bacon, as Cabaret West Glen has also invited Bacon Wrapped DSM to cater at the beer tent). The beer hub will be set up outside Cabaret West Glen — like the leather sofas parked in front of big screens in the center of the mall — where the men can hang out while the ladies shop the martini options.
“I think the beer garden adds an exciting option for those who don’t want to indulge in a lot of hard liquor but would still like to come out and enjoy all the fun while still having adult beverages,” said Rick Ferrell, Iowa State Market Manager for Summit Brewing Company. “Martinis tend to have a refined, conservative social stereotype, and beer tends to have a more casual, social attitude. Both are enjoyed in social settings, but everyone has a preference on how or what they want to consume in an evening. I think it adds another option for Fest-goers.”
While liquor-lovers are trying the latest inventions UV Vodka can provide to West Glen mixologists, the beer tent will be serving drafts of Summit Extra Pale Ale, Summit Saga IPA, Summit Winter Ale and Summit Pilsner.
But don’t let the gender-based stereotypes alone define a drink, Ferrell reminded. Men can enjoy a cherry-tini just as much as women can be known to put back a few brews. Martini Fest continues to be an adult’s social occasion — for both men and women — to drink whatever they choose. Just because they’re served with a fancy glass and garnish doesn’t mean martinis get to own the “sophisticated and refined” aristocracy. Even the president of the United States has been known to sit down for a beer and loosen his tie. So adding beer to the Martini Fest event is just as natural a pairing as men and women themselves.
“Beer has always been viewed as the common man’s drink of choice,” Ferrell said. “Only until recently have so many styles and labels of beer been available for consumers to enjoy. There are now far more beer dinners in which chefs pair some of their finest culinary treats with different beers for people to enjoy.
“It’s also affordable,” he added. “If you look at what beers are receiving awards nationally, many Summit beers are under $10 for a pint or six-pack. That’s a pretty affordable luxury to have a gold-medal-winning product in that price range to enjoy with your friends.”
And for 15 bucks ($20 at the door), a Martini Fest ticket is a good deal, too. Even at $20, 10 samples of some of West Glen’s proudest concoctions translate to a fun, informative and tasty event for all.
“I felt like it was a great deal — well worth the money I spent,” said Raylee Melton, a resident of the West Glen neighborhood who took advantage of last year’s Martini Fest as the perfect excuse for a “girls’ night out.”
“A group of my friends and I went, and I couldn’t get over how fun it was to go from place to place trying the martinis. And we went to some stores that I didn’t even know were there,” she remembered. “West Glen is growing and changing all the time, but I was surprised at how many unique stores, great restaurants and fun bars the area has. I definitely plan on attending this year. It is a great way to grab the girls for a night out.”
And that’s kind of the point, if you ask anyone from West Glen Town Center. Everybody wins: The patron gets to do everything the Town Center promises — eat, live, play and shop; the bar owners happily welcome new faces into their establishments even after Martini Fest ends for the night (the event runs from 5 – 9 p.m.); the servers get to showcase their martini inventions to possibly earn the “best martini” bragging rights; the bands play; the beer froths; the martinis flow. Is there anything that could possibly go wrong?
“One year it just poured rain, and even then, the bar owners said it was a great year for sales,” Goodman recalled. “People stayed and hung out at the bars after Martini Fest closed and ate and drank. So rain or shine, it’s still going to turn out to be a great event.
“And West Glen is the perfect place to have Martini Fest,” he added. “The outside environment, the live music, the fountains, free parking — it all works so well together. Throw in the golf carts that Keck Parking provides, and it creates a very easy way to visit a number of West Glen nightclubs and sample martinis.”
Golf carts have proven to be a fun and safe way for Fest-goers to carouse from one stop to the next. As in the past, this year’s Martini Fest will have several conveniently-located and well-marked pick-up stations where people can hop aboard for a quick cruise to the next destination.
People were certainly excited about the golf cart services last year, Melton said, as she and her group of girls had a tad too much fun teasing a handsome, young driver. But the returning attendees aren’t the only ones who are excited for this year’s event. Martini Fest is especially anticipated by the new West Glen Town Center general manager, who’s admittedly an eager first-timer.
“I’m super excited. This is new experience overall for me,” Monica Greer said. “After visiting with our retail folks out here and the restaurants and bars, from what I understand, this is something we all look forward to, showcasing all the different entertainment venues we have here.”
Along with the live music, tappas, night-long drink specials and other amenities for the event, another fun feature is the favorite martini contest which is returning this year. After a Fest-goer decides which martini is the best, he or she has the option to vote at the Summit beer tent, and the ballots will be tallied to declare a winner in the end.
“One of Ginos’ martinis was picked last year, but I know the others are creating some great options to choose from, too,” Goodman said, such as Pete’s Panty Dropper, made by a clever bartender at Blue Moon.
“There really was a guy named Pete; let’s just leave it at that,” laughed general manager Lance Fitzgerald when asked about the colorful name.
Whether or not Blue Moon’s UV Cherry-based martini is successful at living up to its name is yet to be seen, but the name alone is sure to get a few holes punched from the sample card throughout the night.
“This gives each venue a chance to show off their mixology skills, competing with each other in a fun contest,” Greer said. “And the nice thing is, folks can stay. So much great food and entertainment is offered throughout West Glen, and the venues really are unified. The really cool thing about these folks out here is each has its own unique thing to offer. Cabaret West Glen is a little different from Tonic in terms of feel and offerings; 515 is more of a club; Ginos has great food and a wonderful atmosphere; and Blue Moon, of course, with its dueling pianos, has its own little niche,” as do Tonic, Bonefish and Coach’s Pizza, which are also featuring some innovative martinis along with a fun atmosphere.
“Once people get out here, they land here and enjoy what each place has to offer. Park, and then walk (or take a ride on a golf cart during the four-hour event).
“Martini Fest really adds to the existing entertainment that’s already here, helping to bring our area together in a unified effort to showcase and highlight what West Glen has to offer,” Greer continued. “I think people forget all we have going on here, so Martini Fest is good for West Glen, because it really highlights what the restaurants and nightclubs specialize in and adds to the entertainment for the neighborhood as well as for the other folks that don’t live out here. People will see we’ve changed, and we’re growing.”
Combine a few acres of bars and restaurants; barrels of beer; bottles of UV vodka flavors; bacon-wrapped bacon; live musical performances; and golf carts to carry you around, and you have Martini Fest 2012.
“One thing I’d recommend, because it starts a little early while the sun is still out: Ladies, toss a sweater over your shoulder, because you’re going to want to stay after its over and wander around all night and get more of an experience out of the event,” Greer said.
Help West Glen and Cityview bring “a touch of class to the metro,” Goodman urges. The idea spawned from years of other successful events such as Cityview’s Brewfest, but “this adds a whole new element,” he said.
“Martinis have been hot for several years now, and their popularity continues. Every year I hear from people who come out to West Glen for this event who have never been there before. They undoubtedly come back, and we are pleased that we can introduce them to so many great businesses,” Goodman said. “As for Cityview, it is one more way that we reach out and engage with our readers in a fun way.”
Goodman continued, “We appreciate everyone who takes the time to attend this event, and we also appreciate the sponsors who help fund it. UV Vodka provides the alcohol for the martinis. Summit Brewing Co. brought the beer garden. Cabaret West Glen sponsors the map. Coach’s Pizza helps pay for the wristbands with a great offer. Christopher’s Fine Jewelry sponsors the punch card. And West Glen has been our presenting sponsor from the beginning. It’s a great group of people to work with who help make this all happen.” CV
UV Vodka is the preferred and chosen vodka for Cityview’s Martini Fest 2012. Makes sense. Like the event itself, UV is progressive, delicious and ever appealing to the needs of the evolving palate. As the martini has transformed from the dry gin drink of the old days, UV has become the perfect martini choice, as the classic cocktail calls for contemporary ingredients like never before.
Phillips Distilling Co. based out of Minneapolis, Minn., produces and distributes around the world, building momentum from the Midwest to Europe and Asia. It remains a popular staple in all establishments and liquor store shelves, which is why it’s also the staple of Martini Fest.
UV Vodka is the innovator of new flavors featuring 16 unique touts to choose from. In addition to the vodka, UV is also giving away merchandise such as sunglasses (see cover photo), iPhone cases and wrist bands to Martini Fest-goers.
The celebration is a prime platform to showcase UV’s newest flavor additions that came out this summer.
Perfect for birthdays, anniversaries and even break-ups, chocolate is a celebration all by itself; add vodka, and it’s more euphoric than ever.
To top off your UV Chocolate Cake, this new flavor is a double gold medal winner at the 69th Annual WSWA Wine and Spirits Tasting Competition, and it’s the only flavored vodka to receive this honor in 2012.
This flavor is such a sweet ingredient in some of the tastiest martinis, it gives meaning to the phrase, “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.” CV