First Call: Mojitos at Martin's

Hunter's super-sweet mint julep is, um, not his favorite.
The watering hole: Martin's off Madison, 1413 14th Ave., Capitol Hill.

The barkeep: For one night and one night only: Chad Hunter. Hunter isn't a regular mixologist here, but he got his start with Martin four years ago and still comes back every once in awhile for a "cameo."

The drink: The mojito, which is apparently a total lie.

Mojitos are not Hunter's favorite drink. That's a shot of Casa Noble Anejo (aka fancy tequila) on the rocks. When I ask him to make me what he drinks, he says as much, grabs a glass, and offers only a "hold on."

I assume he's about to grab the tequila off the shelf, but then he starts grinding away at a sprig of mint.

Normally I would protest, but at this gayest (in both senses of the word) of piano bars, no one has any patience for being told what to do. Not Bonnie Birch, who plays everything from Sinatra standards to Led Zeppelin on her sparkling accordion: not Martin himself, who has his staff dressed in utilikilts (though tonight they're in black pants due to an influx of new staffers, because, in his words, "if it's too big it falls off, and if it's too small you can't close it, and either way you're in trouble.")

And not Hunter, who is going to make whatever drink he damn well pleases. The mojito, he explains, "is my favorite drink to make. I muddled the shit out of it."

He also added enough simple syrup to make it chewably thick. But a squeeze from the lemon wedge on the edge of the glass brightens it up, and in no time, you're ready to start singing French standards with Bonnie, even without that shot of tequila.

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