Sep 22, 2022 - Food and Drink

The search for Richmond's coldest martini

a vial in a bowl of ice and an empty martini glass
The martini at Birdie's is served in a vial on ice. Photo: Ned Oliver/Axios

My Axios Richmond co-author Karri and I were recently alerted to what Birdie's, the bar at Common House on Broad Street, advertises as "Broad Street's coldest martini."

What's happening: Suckers for superlatives, we decided to check it out.

What we learned: The pre-mixed drink, a blend of gins, is stored in what the bartender described as a medical-grade freezer and served in a vial in a bowl of ice.

  • It was super crisp, like something that had rolled off a melting glacier (RIP Earth).
  • And — as advertised — it was indeed very cold: We brought a probe thermometer, which gave us a final reading of 8°F.

Yes, but: I realized I had no idea what would be considered a normal temperature for a mixed drink.

  • And that's how I found myself alone with my thermometer at the bar at Blue Habanero, where I had recently been served a frozen margarita that was so cold it gave me brain freeze for the first time since I was like 10.
  • The reading: 12°F — just a hair warmer than Birdie’s and significantly cheaper at $5 during happy hour.

Karri, perhaps correctly, noted that martinis and margaritas are not comparable drinks.

  • And so, I once again found myself with a thermometer at a bar, this time Lemaire, which seemed like a place that would know how to properly make a martini.
  • The extremely knowledgeable bartender advised that if I wanted an extra cold martini, I should ask for it bruised — not just shaken.
  • The drink was cold, but not as cold as Birdie's, registering at 21°F.

The bottom line: If you want a medical-grade cold martini, go to Birdie's. If you want just a very cold drink at a good price, hit up Blue Habanero.

  • And one can never go wrong, for any reason, having a drink at Lemaire.
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