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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Martini of the Week 2: Monarch restaurant Hotel Zaza, Houston, Texas



In October we found ourself, because of flight scheduling issues in Houston, Texas. It was a choice between a risky 90 minute flight connection, nine hours at the airport or a nice leisurely stopover for 36 hours.  We opted for the third, of course, as it gave us the chance to meet up with a lady friend and also to take in Houston's excellent Musem of Fine Arts.


Hotel Zaza, Houston


We stayed at the Hotel Zaza because of it's immediate proximity to the Museum.  We were a bit dubious about the hotel as for Triple P "Zaza" either sounds like a gypsy fortune teller or is the annoying cat from the TV children's show Hector's House.  The hotel itself is one of those self-consciously "hip" hotels which Triple P usually detests.  However, we had to give them credit that, when we checked in at 6.30am, our room was ready for immediate occupation so we were able to catch up on some much needed sleep.  Our companion arrived mid morning which enabled them to visit the museums (there is more than one building) and have a light lunch in the (rather good) museum cafe.


Interesting decor in the lift areas


After a busy and very artistic day, Triple P felt in the need of a restorative Martini and the bar at the hotel (which is integral with the restaurant) provided a very good one indeed.  Now usually Triple P prefers to have his drink at the bar before proceeding into the dining room.  However, that particular Saturday evening there was a a large wedding reception taking place.  This made the bar completely full, although it did have the advantage of filling the place with some very attractive young ladies.  Triple P had already been in trouble for talking to some of these (Texans seem to like Triple P's accent) so we had our cocktails at the dining table whilst we perused the menu. 


The bar in the Zaza from the Monarch restaurant


Our companion had a very girly drink called a Raspberry Whisper which consisted of Cointreau, lemon juice and Ciroc Red berry vodka.  Ciroc is a peculiar vodka made from grapes (!) in France but primarily marketed in the US.  This version had added raspberries and other, well, red berries.  Which ones we never found out as we never managed to get onto the firm's website as they had all that register your age nonsense that Americans worry about.  As if the fact that you have to give your age (or lie about it ) will make any difference whatsoever as to how much you drink.

Our Martini was made with Belvedere as we believe that you should only drink vodka made in Baltic countries as their needs to be some cultural heritage to the drink.  Belvedere comes from Warsaw so that is acceptable. The other option was, the inexplicably popular in North America, Grey Goose which Triple P thinks is faintly disgusting.  Grey Goose was originally invented in 1998 by liquor importer and self made billionaire, Sidney Frank, to challenge the appearance of the premium Belvedere in the US in the late nineties.  It is distilled in Cognac where the locals must be appalled by this noxious spirit defaming the name of their hallowed distilleries.  Except of course it makes them bucket loads of money.  Frank eventually sold the brand to Bacardi in 2004 for a staggering $2 billion cash, pocketing $1.6 billion for himself.

Triple P's Martini was large and very cold and cost a not too alarming $12.  It did, however, suffer from too many olives!

We'd give it a 7/10.

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