I HAD HEARD THAT bartenders can be skittish on the subject of vermouth, but, in the last few months, I have discovered a rather startling phenomenon. On two separate occasions, in two separate bars, I had bartenders serve a gin Martini without any vermouth in it at all, and act surprised when I complained. The Martini has only two necessary ingredients (three if you use orange bitters, but few bars carry them); if you leave out the vermouth, you're serving a straight shot of gin. One bartender had to be cajoled into putting the Vermouth in, and then added it in drops, like he was dropping acid into a base and was afraid the whole thing might explode at any second.
"Customers don't like vermouth," he explained. Well, then, they don't like the Martini, and should be steered to another drink. I'm frankly flabbergasted by this. What self-respecting bartender takes a drink order, and then deliberately leaves out the defining ingredient, without even bothering to ask the customer if that's what they want? Here's a hint to area barkeeps: If a customer orders a gin Martini, and even goes so far to specify what gin they want in it, chances are they want a Martini, and not a glass of gin with an olive in it.
You know what else people don't like? Bitters and rye whiskey, so I must assume that when someone orders a Manhattan from these bartenders, they get served a maraschino cherry, and nothing else. (SPARBER)