Only Fun-Size Martinis for Me, Please

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Brooklyn’s Llama Inn proves that bigger isn’t always better with its diminutive, umami-spiked Chupetini.

There is no shortage of Martinis. Nor, even, is there a shortage of good Martinis. Dry, wet, dirty, kitsch—today’s cocktail landscape is a constellation of Martini iterations from every era of its century-plus existence. Amid such a glut of Martinis, to stand out from the pack is no easy task. But that is just what the Chupetini manages to do.

Created by Natasha Bermudez at Brooklyn’s Llama Inn, the drink finds a way to feel decidedly of-the-moment, yet instantly classic. Served in an irresistible diminutive glass, the frosty, unconventional serve recalls one of the most iconic Martinis of all: the shot-glass Martini of Harry’s Bar in Venice. The drink itself is classic, too—a simple 2-1 ratio of Japanese gin to dry vermouth—but with a thoroughly modern twist.

“Have you ever walked into a kitchen and asked, What is that smell?! and usually it is just onion and garlic sizzling up?” asks Bermudez. “Well, that smell is the flavor we wanted to achieve for this drink.” To realize that goal, Bermudez augments the Chupetini with what she calls an “umami bomb” infusion: She begins by taking the vegan ingredients from the kitchen’s leche de tigre—celery, the South American herb huacatay, habanero and garlic, among others—and infuses the dry vermouth with them via sous-vide cooking for a consistent, speedy transfer of flavor. (At home, a simple 24-hour infusion at room temperature works, too.) The result is a dirty Martini with just the right amount of umami to leave you wanting another sip. 

At just one and a half ounces total, there are only a few sips to go back for with the Chupetini, which derives its name from “chupito,” Spanish slang for a shot. In fact, the menu describes it as a “one-shot Martini,” a serving size designed, in part, to make it more approachable. “We wanted to give the opportunity to those who might still be afraid of a gin Martini to try it out, so we went ahead and made it into a fun size,” says Bermudez. For anyone craving more than a few sips, there’s the Supertini, a full-size version of the drink. The blue cheese–stuffed olive garnish that is nearly the size of the Chupetini glass might look comparatively small in the traditional-size Supertini, but it’s still plenty fun.

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