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Inspired by Robert De Niro, New Yorkers are begging for martinis to go: ‘Every hour seems to be martini hour’

Inspired by Robert De Niro, New Yorkers are begging for martinis to go: ‘Every hour seems to be martini hour’

They’ll have one for the road.

New York night owls are begging to take their martinis to-go, and bars and restaurants are catering to the demand with covert paper cups, specials for in-the-know customers and even hotel martini carts.

“It’s a friends and family to-go deal. It’s not on the menu. We don’t do delivery,” Richard Wheeler, partner at 9 Jones, told The Post of the Greenwich Village supper club’s martini takeout.

In recent months, he’s taken to keeping a few dozen Greek deli coffee cups behind the bar for VIPs wanting an upscale roadie.

In the wee hours of New Years day, a group of revelers spilled out onto the street with blue-and-white paper cups frothing with the restaurant’s viral Aston Martini – a $19 riff on the espresso martini.

The “to go” martini trend seems to be in part inspired by Robert DeNiro (left). In a court case last November, a former assistant accused the actor of demanding the assistant Uber him late night martinis from Nobu Getty Images
The “to go” martini trend seems to be in part inspired by Robert DeNiro (left). In a court case last November, a former assistant accused the actor of demanding the assistant Uber him late night martinis from Nobu Getty Images

“It’s not for everyone, only the people who ask,” Wheeler said. “It came about almost by accident – we have clients that are booking the regular private room and they wanted to continue the party and take it home with them.”

The trend seems to be in part inspired by Robert DeNiro. In a court case last November, a former assistant accused the actor of subjecting her to a toxic work environment. One revealing detail was that he’d demanded the assistant Uber him late night martinis from Nobu.

The Portrait Bar at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in NoMad offers a more elegant solution for those staying at hotel. In December, the bar started offering what it calls “The Martini Ritual.”

9 Jones partner Richard Wheeler started keeping extra Greek deli coffee cups behind the bar at the West Village supper club for VIPs carting out upscale espresso martinis to-go. Brian Zak/NY Post
9 Jones partner Richard Wheeler started keeping extra Greek deli coffee cups behind the bar at the West Village supper club for VIPs carting out upscale espresso martinis to-go. Brian Zak/NY Post
“It’s a friends and family to-go deal. It’s not on the menu. We don’t do delivery,” Wheeler said of the “if you know, you know” off menu offering. Here is the Aston Martini, a riff on the espresso martini. Brian Zak/NY Post
“It’s a friends and family to-go deal. It’s not on the menu. We don’t do delivery,” Wheeler said of the “if you know, you know” off menu offering. Here is the Aston Martini, a riff on the espresso martini. Brian Zak/NY Post

For $35 per person, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., hotel guests can summon a mixologist to their room to make and shake up their martini variation, the Cartagena — gin, Colombian Aguardiente liquor, passion fruit, sherry, dry vermouth, cherry bark and vanilla bitters — on demand. It’s been surprisingly popular.

“We thought requests for the Martini Ritual would be every once in a while, but it happens quite frequently,” Darryl Chan, bar director and head bartender at The Portrait Bar, as well as the hotel’s Café Carmellini, told The Post.

“A lot of guests like to experience it because it’s unique to have a bartender come up to your room,” he said. “[And they] want a martini before dinner while they are getting ready for their evening.”

New York City has strict guidelines about selling alcoholic beverages to-go: They must be be packaged in a container with a secure lid or seal, and they must come with a substantial food item.

But, some establishments are finding work arounds.

For $35 per person, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., hotel guests of the Fifth Avenue Hotel can summon a mixologist to their room to make and shake up their martini variation, the Cartagena — gin, Colombian Aguardiente liquor, passion fruit, sherry, dry vermouth, cherry bark and vanilla bitters — on demand. It’s been surprisingly popular, says Darryl Chan, bar director and head bartender at The Portrait Bar, as well as the hotel’s Café Carmellini. Eric Medsker

At Shinji’s in Flatiron, beverage director Jonathan Adler said the cocktail bar sometimes “gifts” regulars its coveted Vesper Martini — usually sold for $24 and served at an icy -27 degrees — or its “Dirtiest Martini” (usually sold for $30) to take away.

“It’s always a welcome gesture … to extend [a guest’s] experience,” Adler told The Post.

Other customers are taking matters into their own hands.

Upper East Side restaurant owner Sammy Musovic introduced a buy-one, get-one-free espresso martini special for happy hour on his menu this month at Sojourn Social, and he’s noticed some imbibers trying to take the caffeinated adult beverages to-go.

“They ask for [disposable] cups after they finish their meal. Sometimes they have their own cup. I’ve had to ask, ‘can you please finish it here?’” Musovic said.

“A lot of guests like to experience it because it’s unique to have a bartender come up to your room,” Chan told The Post of the Martini Ritual at The Portrait Bar inside The Fifth Avenue Hotel. Eric Medsker
“A lot of guests like to experience it because it’s unique to have a bartender come up to your room,” Chan told The Post of the Martini Ritual at The Portrait Bar inside The Fifth Avenue Hotel. Eric Medsker

He’s also had people call asking to get martinis delivered to them for a preparty.

They’ll say, ‘look we’ll pay extra,'” Musovic said. “Everyone is having them before they go out.”

Meanwhile, at Australian restaurant Isla & Co., which has locations in Midtown and Williamsburg, co-owner Tom Rowse said they’ve had an issue with people walking out with half-full barware from their $25 Espresso Martini Flight.

“Each night there always seems to be a group or two trying to snag our coupes,” Rowse told The Post

At Shinji’s in Flatiron, an insider said the cocktail bar sometimes “gifts” regulars its coveted Vesper Martini — usually sold for $24 and served at an icy -27 degrees — or its “Dirtiest Martini” (usually sold for $30) to take away. Lizzie Munro
At Shinji’s in Flatiron, an insider said the cocktail bar sometimes “gifts” regulars its coveted Vesper Martini — usually sold for $24 and served at an icy -27 degrees — or its “Dirtiest Martini” (usually sold for $30) to take away. Lizzie Munro
At Australian restaurant Isla & Co., which has locations in Midtown and Williamsburg, co-owner Tom Rowse said they’ve had an issue with people walking out with half-full barware from their $25 Espresso Martini Flight. mflatowphoto/ Isla & Co
At Australian restaurant Isla & Co., which has locations in Midtown and Williamsburg, co-owner Tom Rowse said they’ve had an issue with people walking out with half-full barware from their $25 Espresso Martini Flight. mflatowphoto/ Isla & Co

And since the restaurant’s Midtown location is located inside Hotel Hendricks, general managers have spotted guests pouring their martinis into coffee cups they get from their rooms, into the wee hours of the evening.

“Every hour seems to also be martini hour this winter in New York City,” he added.

Others are taking an even less discrete approach.

At DOM cocktail lounge in Gramercy Park, opened in March, 2022, owner and mixologist Albert Trummer says he’s had to downgrade on buying Baccarat crystal glassware because imbibers were leaving with the martini glasses half full.

Upper East Side restaurant owner Sammy Musovic introduced a buy-one, get-one-free espresso martini special for happy hour on his menu this month at Sojourn Social, and he’s noticed some imbibers trying to take the caffeinated adult beverages to-go. Sojourn Social
Upper East Side restaurant owner Sammy Musovic introduced a buy-one, get-one-free espresso martini special for happy hour on his menu this month at Sojourn Social, and he’s noticed some imbibers trying to take the caffeinated adult beverages to-go. Sojourn Social

“In the first nine months of our opening everything was Baccarat crystals – then we said we can’t keep up with the demand of people taking them. One lady put a silver [martini] shaker in her Louis Vuitton bag,” Trummer said.

“People put it [glasses] under their coat, in their pocket and walk right out,” he said, adding a limo of VIP guests once requested espresso martinis curb-side.

“It happens more when a crowd is going to another club or going dancing. [They’ve said], ‘oh the limo is waiting’ and they’ll ask for plastic cups.