- 1717 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, DE, 19806
- Overall User Rating:
- (2 ratings)
- Sun.-Mon. 4 p.m.-, Tue.-Thu. 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Fri. 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
- Official Web Site:
Anyone familiar with the bar and restaurant scene in Wilmington (in particular Trolley Square) has likely heard the rumor: The martinis at 1717 pack quite a punch; one is not enough, but two is too many at the house of the heavy pour (as I like to call it).
When we stopped in for a Friday happy hour a month ago, we found this rumor to be very true. And as we finished the second martini, we noticed a heightened sense of being that comes with a good bowl of loudmouth soup.
So, the question is, do they really pour extra heavy at 1717? Are the glasses bigger? Do they use vodkas and rums with a higher proof? Or is it something else in their recipes that makes for an exceptionally strong, yet approachable and tasty martini?
I felt it was my responsibility, as a social drinker and reporter, to stop back in and do some investigating, to find out why 1717's drink list is all the buzz.
Here's what we found out.
WHY 1717 MARTINIS ARE ALL THE BUZZ
For the record, it's true. The martinis at 1717 do pack quite a punch, whether you're drinking on a fairly empty stomach or noshing on one of their fabulous appetizers. But bartender Jen Daker says it's not a higher proof of alcohol or bigger glasses, but rather a case of giving the clientele what they pay for.
"A lot of other places might charge anywhere between $8 and $10 for a premium vodka or rum straight up or on the rocks," Jen said. "That's typically for about 5 ounces of alcohol. But when they mix a martini, they usually scale back on the alcohol to make room for the other mixers."
But not at 1717.
"We give them the full 5 ounces of alcohol they're paying for, in an 8 ounce martini glass, and mix it with fresh juices and mixers," Jen said. "There's less sugar, it's healthier, there's little to no hangover, and the customers appreciate getting what they deserve."
TASTE THE CREATIVITY
Jen, along with the staff at 1717, have really put a lot of thought, time, effort and creativity into their martini list. With fresh fruit purees and infused gins and vodkas, the 20-plus list of martinis offers guests of all tastes plenty to choose from, all around $9 and $10 a glass.
On our trip to 1717, the first drink we tried was the Mango Mojito ($9). With mojitos still being all the rage, theirs features Cruzan mango rum, mango puree, along with muddled mint and lime. Here's where the attention to detail really comes into play.
"If you're serious about being a home bartender, get yourself a muddler with teeth on the end," Jen said. "It really grinds the fruit you're using for each drink, and in turn opens up all the natural flavors from the pulp and rind."
Jen said you can pick up a hard plastic muddler with teeth (as opposed to a blunt-ended wooden one) at pretty much most kitchen or bottle shops, for just a few bucks. (We found one at www.webrestaurantstore.com for $4.99.)
Drink No. 2 was another muddled mix, this time featuring fresh seedless watermelon, in the Watermelon Rum Mash ($9). Again, they begin with Cruzan rum (naturally flavored with vanilla) and add a little soda water, splash of Sprite and six to eight watermelon cubes.
By the time Jen was finished with the muddling, shaking and straining, what remained was a smooth pink drink, with tiny little bits of watermelon pulp floating throughout. With the vanilla rum as a base, the drink tasted like a watermelon Dum-Dum Pop. (This was my favorite.)
ESPRESSO MARTINIS, THE WAY THEY SHOULD BE
The first time I was treated to an espresso martini was in Rehoboth Beach about five or six years ago. And the restaurant where I tasted the energetic drink chose to use rum (Mt. Gay, to be precise), as well as fresh espresso, rather than a flavored vodka and a shot of coffee.
I was happy to see that 1717 does the same in their Espresso Martini ($9), using Cruzan Dark rum, along with a hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico not necessary), splash of creme de café (or Kahlua) and two ounces of freshly brewed espresso.
Some bars also choose to add whipped cream or heavy cream, in order to achieve the frothy topping with the typical vodka martini. But when using rum, as long as you shake it really, really hard, the drink will froth on its own. (Not sure why this is, but it works.)
Jen also poured us a delicious fall-centric drink, the Pumpkin Pie Martini ($9), but said she wouldn't divulge the recipe. Stop in for that one.
Bartender Jen Daker is one of the secrets behind the deliciously decadent martinis at 1717. We stopped in to see if they really do pack a punch, and the rumors are true. The Pomegranate Martini and Watermelon Rum Mash (pictured above left) were our faves.