We had a great time at Boa, the ultra-hip, ultra-expensive steakhouse on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. As it always is, the place was jammed with the preening and parading set I call YETS—young entitled tattooed spenders. (I couldn’t trademark the acronym, so go ahead and steal it.) It was the same crowd that had surrounded us a few weeks ago on Maui at the wonderful new Andaz at Wailea. Waves of pure cool radiate from them–you almost have to shield your eyes. If you haven’t noticed, understand that YETS are the new prime demographic, openly pursued by all. They are the free-spending fedora-wearing guests the hotel wants. They are the super-cool stilettoed patrons Boa depends on.
Anyway, Boa’s standard clientele didn’t detract from the superb steaks and fine service. This is my terrific New York Strip.
What did detract, however, was how my martini was served. I specified Hendrick’s gin with a few drops of vermouth, stirred, with a lemon twist. When my cocktail finally arrived (slow was understandable if not optimal because we were a table of five, each with a specific drink order) it was presented in a small carafe with an empty glass—and no twist. The server instantly recognized that the twist was missing and promised to rectify the oversight posthaste, but poured my martini from the little carafe anyway. He returned quickly with the missing twist, presenting it to me on a plate.
But the moment was lost. Proper imbibing depends on timing. I was forced to stare at my martini until he came back, then had to pick up the twist and attempt to wring a little lemon oil from it before plopping it in. Here it is, but you can see how far below the rim it is.
But I got to thinking: What is the deal with the carafe anyway? Is it supposed to be an elegant and sophisticated way to serve cocktails? Is it intended to make it easier on servers who otherwise would have to handle the admittedly precarious task of delivering filled-to-the-brim cocktails? Does the mob control the carafe trade? Here’s one of them from my home museum showing how little of the cocktail glass its contents fill.
The more I thought about it the worse the carafe idea seemed. A cocktail poured into one means it loses some of its chill to the carafe, and then more of it when it is re-poured into a room temperature glass. Most of all, however, a carafe-delivered cocktail cannot avoid seeming like a short pour. I set out to test this theory, and as you can see here the standard cocktail carafe I used proves my point. It’s a short pour.
As a control, here is a martini of the proper heft and volume, served to me at The Palm. I rest my case.