the alaska cocktail

When I was a server, after my dinner shifts I’d head to the sports bar next door with my coworkers for a gin martini and a Caesar salad. The martini would be shaken and served in an oversized glass, and it would have large shards like ice floes floating on top of it.

It was a pretty bad martini, but there’s something I miss about sharing a drink with my coworkers after a long shift. Working in the service industry is almost like playing a team sport — on a good night, the staff is like a well-oiled machine. You know if you’re in the weeds, someone will have your back. And on a bad night, if you make a mistake or get a bad tip, someone’s there to pat you on the back and tell you to keep your head up.

It’s been years since I hobbled up to that bar and sipped a martini in my marinara-stained oxford shirt, but whenever I have one, it transports me back to those days.

Despite my nostalgia for those terrible martinis, I’ve come a long way since then. For one thing, I know that martinis should be stirred. James Bond was wrong. Don’t take it from me, though — this episode of Gastropod includes a good discussion on when to stir and when to shake.

The Alaska cocktail is a simple martini variation — just swap out the vermouth for yellow Chartreuse, and add a few dashes of orange bitters. A simple substitution, but the transformation is significant — slightly sweet, botanical, herbal and bitter.


the alaska cocktail
1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz yellow chartreuse
2 dashes orange bitters
orange peel

stir with ice, strain. express the orange peel over the glass.

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