Sonoma martini contest: Madness or genius?

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For an event originally created as part of former Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau director Wendy Peterson’s Season of the Olive festival – intended to promote Sonoma Valley’s second largest crop, the olive – this year’s Martini Madness event did not feature any olives. This year, they were not required.

In fact there seemed to be no martinis, at least as we used to know them in the classic sense. But there were definitely creative cocktails served straight up in thankfully small plastic martini glasses – because all those small tastes can add up.

The bartender contest categories remained the same as before, including Best Garnish, Most Creative Martini and Best Martini overall.

The winners: Best Garnish: Steiners, for its steak and ceviche garnish (and their hilarious merman bartender couldn’t have hurt). Most Creative Martini: 39 Degree North of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn for its “capresetini,” which included Italian-cheese-infused vodka and a cherry tomato confit and a basil lillet garnished with a mini caprese salad on a toothpick.

Best Martini Overall went to Salt & Stone of Kenwood for its “Love Potion” made with vodka, rose petal infused simple syrup, crème de viollette and lemon juice, topped with dried rosebuds and created by bar manager Lizzie Knight.

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