Food & Drink

Bar Exam

4,000 Days of Martinis at Tini Bigs

Tini Bigs has been serving martinis for more than 4,000 consecutive days, through power outages, holidays, and civil unrest. During storms, martinis have been mixed by candlelight. On holidays, some employee with nothing better to do bartends, collecting extra-large tips from patrons who pity them for having to work. (Over the years—almost 11 of them—word has spread that Tini Bigs is one of the few places open for a therapeutic postfamily beverage on Thanksgiving and Christmas.) During the WTO, the riots reached to exactly across the street from Tini Bigs, at the corner of First Avenue and Denny Way; delegates sat inside, smoking cigars and drinking martinis and watching the police teargas the protesters. Later, as the suits continued to enjoy the upholstered booths, jazz soundtrack, and Corinthian-columned bar, the protesters finally gave up and sought solace in pitchers of cheap beer around the corner (at the bar that is now the tiki-themed Hula Hula).

According to the calculations of the management, Tini Bigs sold 739,088 martinis during its first 4,000 days. Glasses shattered in the process: 49,020, or a rather civilized 6.6 percent. Fifteen of "the 'bling-bling' of martinis"—made with Grand Marnier 150, Hennessy Paradis cognac, and Ultimat vodka—have been purchased at $200 each. Traditionalists might take issue with the statistics, as here a martini is defined as anything served in a martini glass. A real martini is, of course, gin (or, to stretch it, vodka) with a certain amount of vermouth, icy cold, olive or twist, and that's it. Tini Bigs makes these, with Bombay and Finlandia as the house liquors, and with extra-large 10-ounce stemware. (At which traditionalists may also bridle: A large martini, unless addressed assiduously, grows warm. Sticklers say the best martini is a small, frequent martini.) But here, a drink like a Dirty Girl Scout also counts as a martini, as do many cocktails suffering from the unfortunate application of the suffix "-tini." Some of the offenders: the Insomnia-Tini (with energy drink), the Hang-Over-Tini (a sort of distilled bloody mary with a very spicy, very tasty jalapeño-stuffed olive), and the Jill-Tini (created for a visiting Food Network host who's rumored to have enjoyed four of them immediately prior to taping a Tini Bigs segment).

The Burning Man–Tini does not contain Ecstasy. Voted Best Martini by a Seattle weekly paper, it was inspired by El Diablo, a locally famous chocolate extravaganza served at the Spanish restaurant Tango. If you're going to drink your dessert, this combination of sweet and heat—Godiva liqueur and cayenne pepper are involved—is a very fine way to do so. Is it a martini? No. recommended

Tini Bigs, 100 Denny Way, 284-0931

bethany@thestranger.com

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