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Sep 5, 2008 03:53 PM

Can you get a decent martini anywhere in Canada?

Sorry guys, but we just returned from two weeks in NS and PEI. Nowhere in the world have I been served smaller martini's than in these two places. I understand that there are legal restrictions in effect, but coming from southern California where a 4+ oz. martini is pretty standard at good restaurants, the martini's we were served even at the best restaurants in NS and PEI were downright puny. Is this true throughout Canada?

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  1. Can't speak for all of Canada, but in PEI and NB-yes. I am told that Gio in Halifax makes a good martini that is garnished with a blue cheese stuffed olive, but haven't been yet.

    1. Too bad you didn't get a decent martini, but to generalize 2 weeks in the East coast wouldn't be fair to judge a martini served in Canada!
      Liquor boards are provincial, so maybe you'll have more luck with stronger martini's a little west..although I personally wouldn't be too interested in a 4oz. martini! to each his own..
      In Ontario I have had many a 3oz. martini, so fear not..

      1 Reply
      1. re: burlgurl

        I did not mean to imply that martinis are puny throughout Canada. Indeed if you reread my posting you will see that what I said was that those "we were NS and PEI" were small. I simply asked if due to legal restrictions this was true throughout Canada. I don't think I generalized, but simply asked a question!

        By the way, we had a wonderful time in PEI & NS...and the shellfish we had there were the best we've ever had.

      2. The Gio Martinis in Halifax are great and they do have a three oz. I've had a really good martini at Sebastiens in Halifax as well, but I would guess that it was probably only a 2 oz. From my experience 2 oz is pretty standard, even at fancier places.

        I seem to recall you went to Morris East from one of your other posts - their martini is tiny, but tasty.

        To be honest, I don't know the liquor laws, but I wonder if the price an establishment would have to charge for a 4 oz martini would have something to do with why they aren't available. It's my understanding that liquor in the states is cheaper than it is here. In Halifax a 2 oz martini usually goes for between $10 and $12, I would think that restaurants in this part of the world would get a lot of raised eyebrows over a $20 martini even if it did have 4 ozs. (and in regard to the small Morris East martini, where they are using Organic Gin which is bound to be more expensive, I bet the small size is again a way to keep the price on the menu something from being eye popping)

        I could be off base, but it's just a thought. I'm curious though, how much do 4 oz martinis in California cost?

        1 Reply
        1. re: parleek

          A four ounce martini in CA, tends to run $10-11. A three ouncer runs about $8-9, quite similar to PEI & NS. Agree with you that the martini at Morris East was good (albeit a bit small by my standards)....but everything else there is great. How much I wish we had Morris East where I live!

          I feel bad that burlgurl thought I was being critical of Canada. That's very far from the case....I love traveling in Canada, but was just questioning the liquor polices/laws re martinis.

        2. Delilah's in the west end of Vancouver has been serving amazing martini's for 20 or so years. They are so big, they leave the extra in the mixing glass so you can top up as you go. I haven't been for many years so I hope this is still true. They have an extensive list (long before Sex in the City made cosmos popular). My favourite was always the Lola. Gin or Vodka mixed with the juice of 1/2 and orange and 1/2 a grapefruit and finished off with a little Grand Marnier. I've never made it through more than two in a single sitting.

          6 Replies
          1. re: dinin and dishin

            It must be a provincial thing, because the bartenders in PEI and NS although obviously very competant, told us that they were forced to watch drink size very carefully because they never knew when an inspector might pop in!

            1. re: josephnl

              They were not being truthful with you. There is no provincial law that limits drink size or even pricing other than that it cannot be sold below cost.

              1. re: Greg B

                Very interesting, because we were told the same thing in at least two places where the martinis were especially puny.

                I'm truly sorry if I ruffled some feathers with this post. We truly love traveling in Canada...everything from the food, to the scenery, to the friendly and helpful was just this weird oddity that led me to post this question.

                1. re: Greg B

                  it has nothing to do with the cost of the drink, bartenders are not allowed to serve a customer more than a double shot at any time. I have tried to order triples (back in university) and was firmly told no, due to the laws, at many different bars throughout the east coast. Doubles are the max, as bartenders have become more and more responsible in the intoxication level of the patrons. They just don't want any liability issues.

                  1. re: mdd

                    They may have that as a policy in the establishment, but there is no law prohibiting it.

                    1. re: mdd

                      Actually the martins we were served in NS and PEI were never more than about two ounces which considering the melted ice, and vermouth, were no bigger than a single shot (1 1/2 oz.) of gin. That was my original point and why I was questioning whether or not it was a legal requirement throughout Canada, or even just in these two provinces. Typically in southern CA where I live, martinis are closer to a double...about 4 oz. as served.

                      I could sure go for some PEI mussels or NS lobster tonite....nothing like them here in CA!

              2. ok, i need clarification, also because i'm not martini expect.....are we talking about the purer form of a martini (as in gin & vermouth) here or those variety martini-esque drinks you see in the bars that have juices etc etc in them, and tend to be bigger?

                The purer form of a martini under the 4+ oz rule would result in four shots of pure alcohol pretty much no? That's like drinking four beer in one shot isn't it? Can't even think of how you'd get away with ordering a double of that drink. Does it come with a free designated driver and a bulldozer to get you out of bed the next day? ;)

                I'd also like to add that not only is 2 weeks in NS and PEI not indicative of martinis in Canada, but also the East Coast in general.

                1 Reply
                1. re: im_nomad

                  I am talking about a classic martini which is gin and vermouth. A shot or jigger is the U.S. at least, is generally defined as 1 1/2 ounces. Gin is about 45% alcohol, and vermouth about 16% alcohol. When you shake or stir one jigger of gin, with a splash of vermouth, over ice you wind up with about a 2 oz. drink which is about 35% alcohol. This was the typical drink served in NS and PEI and is about half the size of most martinis served at nice restaurants in California. This was an observation which is undeniable and indeed was absolutely acknowledged by a few bartenders I spoke with on our trip.

                  I don't know how to say it any clearer...I was not being critical of Canada, just inquiring whether the size of drink is regulated throughout Canada, or just as we had been told only in NS & PEI (which another poster said is not correct). Please guys...we had a wonderful time in Canada, we love Canada, please don't be so defensive! (By the way, if you look at some of my other posts, you will see that we had some terrific meals on our vacation, and the shellfish we had in NS & PEI was vastly superior to any that we've ever had in the US...ok?)