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Shaken or stirred, dry or wet, straight up or on the rocks, every single martini served at this sleek, slightly hidden hotel bar in Spain has been carefully counted since it opened eight years ago.
Why keep track? It’s a time-honored tradition that actually dates back 40 years to the bar’s original Barcelona outpost founded in 1978. Visitors can discover that once they settle in at Dry Martini Madrid, a cocktail dreamland tucked inside the Gran Melia Fenix, a Leading Hotels of The World property and one of the most well-appointed hotels in the city. Even with an ongoing update to its seven floors of well-appointed guest rooms, the five-star destination still oozes a sort of glamor of yore.
Madrid’s Dry Martini, run by Javier de las Muelas, meanwhile, is a strikingly modern cocktail bar concept all about—you guessed it—the much loved and oft maligned martini. To reach it, just go through the hotel’s heavy, revolving doors, past a stained glass rotunda—replete with orchids and plush seating—and through a set of heavy velvet curtains. You have arrived.
Whether gin or vodka is your preferred poison, Dry Martini can whip up just about every combination imaginable from it’s encyclopedic menu of more than 100 martini options which—along with a host of other libations—spans more than 60 pages and includes esoteric takes like the Breakfast Martini. That version features a tea cup-style chalice containing a mixture of orange marmalade, Triple Sec Giffard, fresh lemon juice, and—to really kickstart your day—a heaping helping of locally-sourced gin.
No matter which drink you select, your order will come accompanied with a suite of imaginative tapas, as well as a certificate denoting the exact number of your cocktail. Each and every martini produced by the bar, which stays open 365 days a year, has been assigned a number, while a large digital clock tallies up the total number of martinis served by the expert Dry Martini staff.
“It’s part of a tradition that dates back four decades to when the cocktails were accounted for individually by hand,” head bartender Jesús Abia Olmedo told RealClearLife of the original Dry Martini in Barcelona. “Forty years ago, when Dry Martini was founded, Mr. Pere Carbonell only served dry martinis and glasses of water. He defined himself as a ‘Drymartini-eria.'”
After Carbonell passed away, De las Meulas took over the project, extending the cocktails offered at the bar. At that time, he found a book written by Carbonell counting all of the dry martinis he served during his life, and De las Meulas decided to continue the tradition. “It is a tribute to the original owner of the bar,” noted Olmedo.
At press time, the number stood at a cool 42,195 martinis served since 2010, with many, many more to come.
Photo: Dry Martini/Gran Meliá Fénix Madrid