A recent outing to neighborhood restaurant and bar, 801 Chophouse, gleaned an interesting martini combination I would otherwise have never sampled. The 801 Special consists of Ketel One Vodka, Bombay Sapphire Gin served with house stuffed Blue Cheese olives. Ordinarily I have an aversion to blue cheese. There is just something about the weave of blue cheese mold through food along with the pungent flavor that sort of twists and turns my stomach before the flavor leaves my tongue. Dirty martinis aren’t necessarily my favorite either. The salty overtones bury too much of the martini for my palate preference as well. Simply put, I love to taste the particular subtleties of the spirit whether it is vodka or gin. The martini description of this particular house special sounded rather encouraging; No vermouth, no olive juice and the olives were stuffed with a mix of blue cheese, fresh garlic and Tabasco. Curiosity won out.
801 Special – 801 Chophouse, Omaha NE
1-1/2 ounce Ketel One Vodka
1-1/2 ounce Bombay Sapphire Gin
Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives*
Combine vodka and gin in mixing tin with ice. Shake or stir according to preference (801 Chophouse shakes vigorously). Garnish with two skewered Blue Cheese olives. In my opinion this cocktail needs at minimum three olives, but would do exceedingly well to have four to make it truly ‘special’.
Though I did not get the exact recipe for the hand-stuffed Blue Cheese Olives, I played with a recipe loosely based upon one found on Food Network by Emeril Lagasse.
Hand Stuffed Blue Cheese Olives – adapted by Cheri Loughlin
Original recipe from 801 Chophouse, Omaha NE
24 to 30 Large Green Olives – pitted
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup Gorgonzola Cheese
3 Tablespoons Garlic Paste
3 Tablespoons Tabasco Sauce
Anchovies – to taste
Drain green olives, reserving the brine for later use. Combine ingredients in food processor or mash mixture together well by hand. Place completely blended mixture in pastry bag. Begin stuffing each olive individually, being careful to keep outside of olives free of blue cheese residue. Return olives to jar or plastic container in single layer if possible. Pour brine in layer over olives and store in refrigerator until ready for use.
Tasting Note:The 801 Special definitely left me deliciously surprised. For those who believe gin is not of their particular flavor variety, perhaps try this combination. The vodka washes over the gin, softening it a bit in a way vermouth does not. The two spirits dance agreeably in the glass; kindred spirits if you will. The hand stuffed Blue Cheese Olives become the meal topper. It is a must that these olives marinate in the martini for a moment or two before the first taste. A lingering bite here and there between sips is the exceptional highlight of the 801 Special.
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Cheri Loughlin is the Omaha writer and photographer behind www.intoxicologist.net and author of Cocktails with a Tryst: An Affair with Mixology and Seduction. You can email Cheri with comments and questions at str8upcocktails at gmail.com.