0218 table malbec martini wlmxmu

Image: Jenn Duncan

The recipe for the new Malbec martini at swank Galleria-area steakhouse and wine bar Tango and Malbec was a team effort. Owner Gina Pagni-Ferreira worked on the formula with her bar manager and wine director for three months starting last fall, tinkering until they got the proportions just right.

“It took a while to get the balance we were looking for,” she says. “We wanted it to be smooth, so that it would go well with Argentine cooking.” The result, a South American riff on the classic cocktail, is brilliant.

The Argentina native is proud of her restaurant’s wine program, which features roughly 30 Malbecs from her home country, ranging in price from $40 to around $400 per bottle. It’s an impressive selection that lets guests enjoy the restaurant’s wood-fired steaks with beef-friendly red wines that (mostly) don’t break the bank.

Lately, though, diners have been drinking the Malbec martini throughout the course of their meals, Pagni-Ferreira tells Houstonia. In fact, it’s become one of the most popular pairings with the Bife de Lomo, also known as grilled tenderloin, her menu’s pièce de résistance.

The natural fruit favor of the red wine is the ideal dancing partner for the dry vodka, adding just enough sweetness to keep the alcohol in check and making it a truly food-friendly drink, available for $6 during happy hour and $12 during dinner service. The restaurant, by the way, will let you choose your own premium vodka for your cocktail for no extra charge. Pagni-Ferreira’s favorite? Tito’s.

Recipe: Malbec Martini

  • 1 oz. vodka (Tito’s or Grey Goose works well)
  • 1 oz. St-Germain liqueur
  • 1 oz. Malbec (Trivento Malbec Reserve is a good one)
  • Splash cranberry juice

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake gently and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with orange slice and maraschino cherry. 

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