“Just look at that crumb line,” says Brendan McGill, chef and owner of Bar Taglio at the southern edge of Seattle’s downtown core. He was pointing at the slice of Roman-style pizza he had just dropped onto my plate. “You see the air bubbles? That’s exactly how it’s supposed to look.”
The look McGill is going for with his trattoria’s pizze is the crunchy bottom, airy middle and loaded-ingredient topping that the square-shaped Roman flatbread is known for. Al taglio, the restaurant’s namesake, translates to “by the slice” but McGill does not mean for you to stop at just one — the menu offers single slice options of nearly one dozen pizza varieties, from classic margherita to roasted delicata squash with broccoli walnut pesto.
The rest of the menu touts tasty starters like chicken liver paté, fresh house-made cheese and hearty polpettine (pork and beef meatballs), as well as a simply delicious salad of mixed chicories, lettuces and herbs and pollo arrosto, a sumptuous roasted half chicken served with golden carrot purée and cumin-spiced carrots.
Though the food was vibrant and flavorsome and McGill’s stories about training to cook this type of pizza were charmingly entertaining, I was drawn to the concept of the Mini Martinis — three two-ounce, fully concocted miniature martinis.
“Our hope with the mini martinis — or as we like to call them, ‘martinininininini!’ — was to reintroduce a classic that most people have forgotten is made with, yes, gin!” says Alexandra Stang, Bar Taglio’s general manager and beverage director. “That said, we definitely throw some curveballs in the recipes to keep it fun and appealing to many palates. They are also adorable and since they are only two-ounce drinks, and we lean a little harder on vermouth and other lower ABV ingredients, [so] these are light enough to accompany lunch or to try as a flight.”
Stang says Bar Taglio’s bar program emphasizes gin, as the spirit pairs so well with Italian distillates like apertivi and vermouth. For the Mini Martinis, the bar goes fully local with Seattle’s Batch 206 and Copperworks, plus Bainbridge Island’s Highside.
“There are a lot of great spirits being produced right in our own backyard, and while we do color outside those lines, we will always showcase local products,” Stang says, referencing the Italian-heavy drink menu. “Likewise, our cuisine may be Roman fare, but you can count on some great PNW products being peppered throughout our menus… I know the people who make a lot of the products we carry in the bar and am proud to tell their stories while serving up the delicious things they create.”
It makes sense that a chef-driven restaurant-bar would put food-forward garnishes in its drinks, like prosciutto in the Old Tom, Stang’s favorite of the bunch. “This type of gin has some sweetness to it, which is balanced by the Manzanilla,[sherry] one of the driest wines in the world,” she adds. “Manzanilla goes beautifully with salty things, like the prosciutto garnishing this little guy and we round out the flavors with a gorgeous Italian white vermouth.”
Find your favorite by making each of the Mini Martinis at home, or belly up with Stang behind the bar and order pizze al taglio.
Makes 3 2-ounce cocktails
1 ounce Batch 206 Counter Old Tom Gin
½ ounce Lustau Manzanilla Papirusa
½ ounce Contratto Bianco Vermouth
Garnish: prosciutto on skewer
1 ounce Highside Gin
1 ounce Mancino Sakura Vermouth
Garnish: plum conserva on skewer
1 ½ ounces Copperworks Barrel Aged Gin
½ ounce Vermouth del Professore Classico
Garnish: Taggiasca olive on skewer
For each individual cocktail, measure all ingredients into a mixing glass full of ice, stir 30 times and strain into a mini martini coupe. Garnish with respective topper.