Once upon a time, the martini was simply a gin and vermouth cocktail. Then came such bastardizations as the green apple martini and the coffee martini. You’d think that would have been the apogee of alcoholic disasters, but then came along the grilled cheese martini.
For this week’s review, I paid several visits to Beecher’s, the Seattle-based cheese shop and restaurant that opened in the Flatiron District this summer. The massive spot houses a shop selling cheese and charcuterie, a casual café peddling sandwiches and baked goods, and a somewhat more upscale cellar restaurant and wine bar. I enjoyed much of the cheesy fare I sampled at Beecher’s, particularly the cheese boards and macaroni and cheese, but the grilled cheese martini? Let’s just say that needed some work.
Not because it’s a slapdash cocktail. Oh no, this $15 concoction (which isn’t actually listed on the menu, but reserved for those “in the know”) is created first by steeping grilled cheese sandwiches in vodka for a day, after which time mixologsts strain out the solids and pour the liquid into a glass along with a tomato-juice ice cube. The martini glass is then rimmed with reduced balsamic vinegar and crumbled crispy prosciutto. Think of it as the liquid-diet version of that grilled cheese and tomato soup combo you had when you were a kid.
In truth, it was difficult to discern any cheese flavor in the cocktail; mostly it tasted like boozy, watered-down tomato juice, reminiscent of a weak Bloody Mary. It’s not so much vile or undrinkable as it is an expensive gimmick that tastes neither like a grilled cheese sandwich nor a martini. Still pay a visit to Beecher’s, but keep the cheese to the food.