When 5:00 p.m. rolls around, the kid in all of us does a Fred Flintstone: We race to gain separation from work, and to begin enjoying the rest of our day. After slugging it out it in the boardrooms and corner offices, your business crowd is looking to slip out of work mode and into a dry martini (apologies Robert Benchley).
"At Kahunaville we've had considerable success attracting a large and varied business crowd," states Mark Broadhurst, operations analyst for the fast-growing chain. "Our approach has been to create a relaxed atmosphere that allows our guests to loosen their ties and forget about work. There's not a Wall Street Journal to be seen." Here's our short list of offerings to tempt customers.
MARTINIS. Their versatility has prompted a wave of new and intriguing variations that rival the appeal of the original. Consider substituting dry vermouth in your specialty martinis with Dubonnet, Lillet, Port, Madeira, or Sake. Splash in a liqueur or two to add a blast of flavor and an attractive hue. And why limit your martinis to just gin or vodka? Try adding a healthy dose of silver tequila, cognac or Scotch. The crowning touch is an equally fitting garnish. Popular options include garlic-stuffed or bleu cheese-stuffed olives, orange peels, fresh strawberries, and peeled shrimp.
MANHATTANS. The popular resurgence of bourbon has prompted a renewed interest in the most classic of whiskey cocktails, the Manhattan. One creative variation on a Manhattan is to substitute another type of aperitif for the vermouth. Another option includes adding a splash or two of a liqueur. Your options include Chambord, Frangelico, Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Sambuca and Benedictine.
COSMOPOLITANS. A derivative of the Kamikaze, the popular appeal of the Cosmopolitan made it one of the standard-bearers of the "90s. Using the Kamikaze as the creative blueprint, the Cosmopolitan is constructed with citrus-infused Absolut Citron vodka, Cointreau, Rose's lime juice, and a healthy splash of cranberry juice. It's then stirred, strained into the coldest, most elegant cocktail glass handy, and presented with a wedge of fresh lime. For those who refuse to leave well enough alone there's the Limón Cosmopolitan, made with the citrus-infused Bacardi Limón rum. There are, however, loads of new citrus-and orange-infused vodkas, and several outstanding limoncellos on the market to experiment with. Other creative options are to substitute Absolut Kurant for the Citron to make a Metropolitan, or combine Stolichnaya Citros, Blue Curaçao and Chambord to make the Purple Cosmo.
CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS. The new breed of champagne cocktails is among the latest trends sweeping the country. These cocktails are light, effervescent and exceptionally delicious. Like their famous predecessors, classics such as the French 75 and Ritz Fizz, these spirited libations possess all the necessary components for popular longevity. Eye appeal alone qualifies them as bona fide works of art. It's their luscious flavor, though, that makes them masterpieces. With the advent of the reusable bottle-stopper that keeps champagne carbonated for days, you can pour champagne without being concerned that the unused portion will go flat and be wasted. Champagne is incomparable paired with about any type of fruit juice or purée.
BLOODY MARYS. Robust, nutritious, and loaded with taste, the business set has turned onto the Bloody Mary as a meal with an attitude. It's usually made with vodka, although gin, tequila, aquavit and flavored vodkas are popular substitutes. The secret to a world class Bloody Mary, however, is in the mix. If searching for the perfect scratch recipe sounds more involved than the time at-hand permits, bottled mixes offer a delicious, cost-effective alternative, one that rivals the most delectable scratch recipes. The final touch to any noteworthy Bloody Mary is the garnish. Consider it an ingredient in the drink.
Robert Plotkin is the author of numerous books, including the 5th edition of The Bartender's Companion: The Original Guide to American Cocktails and Drinks.