If I’m honest I didn’t expect to like Las Vegas, but I absolutely loved it. I was expecting the huge hotels, cavernous casinos and packs of people living life to excess, however, the fine dining restaurants, theatres and this deliciously dirty martini were a revelation. Unlike the old, cramped Victorian theatres of London, the theatres in Vegas are enormous, modern and fully air-conditioned. For someone like me, who is over six foot tall and has legs sprawling all over the place, the legroom in and itself is well worth the trip.
The restaurants too were stunning. As always, we had pre-booked a few places to eat including the fabulous, but sadly now closed Alize in the Palms hotel, Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak in the MGM Grand and the delightful Mon Ami Gabi on the Las Vegas strip. Located within the French-themed Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, Mon Ami Gabi is kind of like an American interpretation of a Parisian bistro but bigger and better with premium midwest steak and some of the very best views of the Bellagio hotel fountains.
The Gabitini: a very dirty martini stuffed with Roquefort
We had dinner and drinks at Mon Ami Gabi on the night of my birthday and that was when I discovered the Gabitini – an ice-cold vodka martini, with stuffed blue cheese olives. The blue cheese adds a subtle complexity to what is a typical dirty martini, while the generous portion of vodka just makes everything so much better. It’s exactly what you need before hitting the casino!
Back in England, with my wallet mostly intact, this dirty martini has become a staple cocktail for me and my partner. Through trial and error, we’ve found that queen olives are best for stuffing with blue cheese. Look for the pitted ones in jars of brine, so you can dribble some of that in too. Quality vodka is a must. As it’s the main ingredient, I’d suggest getting the best you can afford. We like Grey Goose and Stolichnaya, but that’s really personal taste. However, if you like a dirty martini, you’ll know one is never enough, so we usually make a few blue cheese olives in advance and keep them in the fridge until needed. And they are always needed.
Try my dirty martini recipe inspired by Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas
- 6 parts vodka
- 1 part dry vermouth
- 3 queen olives
- 1 tsp of brine
- 3 tsp blue cheese
- Ice cubes
Using a teaspoon, squeeze the blue cheese into the olives. A creamy Roquefort is a great option or you could use Saint Agur, which is quite similar but made with pasteurised cow's milk rather than raw sheep's milk.
Place the vodka, vermouth and ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until the liquid is ice cold.
Dribble about a teaspoon of brine into a cold martini glass and pour the ice-cold vodka straight in from the cocktail shaker.
Add the blue cheese olives on a cocktail stick and serve. Rinse and repeat.