Quest For The Best: Martinis


4240 North Main Street
Mishawaka, IN
(574) 271-3663

At one point or another, we all go to a restaurant or bar craving certain flavors.  We know exactly what we want, but it’s not always on the menu. That’s what happened at Houlihan’s two years ago when a regular guest of the restaurant wanted a specific flavor profile that reminded him of a summer he spent in Venice.  So the bar masters at Houlihan’s created a vodka martini with a beautiful blend of citrus and raspberry flavors that actually tastes like a liquid gelato from an Italian café.  As for the name, Ciao Bella translates to ‘Hello Beautiful’ – a fitting description for this refreshing cocktail that can take you thousands of miles away with one sip.

If you’re craving something even sweeter, ask for the Flirt-tini. The X-Rated (a blood orange, mango and passion fruit liquor) and a kiss of champagne is light, fruity and satisfying.

Be sure to try one of the restaurant’s most popular Lettuce Wraps or Seared Ahi Tuna Wontons.


119 North Michigan Street
South Bend, IN
(574) 233-4959

Forever Young is a winner. No really, it is! NOMA Bar Manager Mike Nystrand created the crisp, refreshing concoction for a martini contest at the Studebaker Museum a few years ago and won first place. Van Gogh Acai-Blueberry vodka gives the smooth potion a fruity feel without being too sweet. When it came time to name the martini, Forever Young just made sense – acai berries are native to the Amazon rain forest and contain fiber and antioxidant content that may help fight cancer and aging. We can’t guarantee you’ll stay young forever by drinking it, but we can promise you’ll want more than one!

You might also like the NOMAtini – a mango puree garnished with an edible orchid.

For stunning presentation and beautiful flavors, try NOMA’s Hot Rock appetizer – two very thin filets of the most prime cut of beef, marinated in a special sauce then cooked on a hot rock at your table. 


333 Nibco Parkway
Elkhart, IN
(574) 293-2830

The Chocolate Peppermint Twist probably isn’t what comes to mind when you think about a typical martini.  But we promise it tastes like a winter holiday party in your mouth!  Peppermint Schnapps, White Crème de Cacao and Absolut Vanilla blended with a touch of vanilla ice cream create a sweet and smooth martini that’s easy on the eyes and your taste buds. One of the restaurant’s bartenders created the mixture as a special holiday drink last winter, but customers continued asking for it well into the spring. Now it’s on the permanent drink menu. McCarthy’s didn’t have to think too hard to come up with a name for the delicious treat – chocolate drizzled around the inside of the glass and candy cane crunch on the rim make for a beautiful presentation of the Chocolate Peppermint Twist.

If you prefer a more traditional cocktail, check out McCarthy’s Blueberry Martini – a delightful blend of blueberry vodka and other refreshing citrus flavors.

Be sure to order The Dubliner while you’re there – lightly breaded Irish cheddar cheese baked and served with bangers (sausage) and flat bread. 


115 West Colfax Avenue
South Bend, IN
(574) 288-1155


Who knew you could learn so much history in a bar?  Club LaSalle Manager Chris Ferrer shook up a Corpse Reviver #2 from the club’s throwback martini menu and taught us a little alcohol history lesson in the process. An ultra-smooth classic gin cocktail, the Corpse Reviver #2 has been around since the late 1800s.  Its signature ingredient – absinthe – is an alcohol made with wormwood plant, and can actually cause a person to hallucinate when consumed in very large quantities.  In fact, one nickname for the potent absinthe, said to be one cause of the United States Prohibition in the 1920s, is the “green fairy”. 

In the case of the Corpse Reviver #2, absinthe actually softens the gin and adds a hint of a licorice flavor. As for its name, the Corpse Reviver has also been considered a “hair of the dog” to help bring its consumers back from the dead the morning after a rough night.

For a fruitier martini, try the Peaches & Berries Champagne Martini Ferrer made for a customer. It’s not even on the menu yet!

For a nice pairing with your drink, be sure to try the French Grilled Scallops.


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