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Raise Your Glass, The Sondra Martini, the 13th Floor

By Meekah Hopkins

7:18 AM EST, December 26, 2012

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Crisp and clean, January is the month when we're officially supposed to start over.

After reflecting on the old, we will begin anew with the hope of renewing and rejuvenating our lives. And so, the season really calls for a drink to match the refreshed feelings we have coming off the holidays; a drink that is indulgent yet light enough to erase the heaviness of the past few weeks. Smooth, fresh and sophisticated, the Sondra Martini at the 13th Floor is the cocktail to drink as you toast to the new year.

If you haven't been to the newly reopened 13th Floor, inside the Belvedere Hotel, treat yourself. Everything about the place screams sleek and sexy; prepare to gaze at panoramic views of historic Baltimore while listening to live jazz. The lounge itself is posh and contemporary: styled to be modern but with a nod to the pre-Prohibition era elegance of the hotel itself.

Sondra Goad, owner of the Belvedere and the 13th Floor, brought on John Klaus to be beverage consultant, designing a menu that would emulate the same aesthetic, offering classic cocktails with a unique twist. So when discussing possible martinis for the menu Goad says that having the perfect pear martini was her one requirement. Why? For one, Goad just loves pears. But more than that, she wanted "a drink that wasn't overly sweet or fruity...a people-pleaser that is a clean, refreshing complement to many of our dishes," she says. Inspired, Klaus created The Sondra Martini.

Also crucial? Goad firmly believes that "to make the best drinks you have to have the best ingredients." The Sondra is made with Grey Goose La Poire pear vodka, fresh pear nectar and Mathilde, a potent all-natural French pear liqueur that boasts a 100-year-old recipe. Surprisingly, the Mathilde, not the pear nectar itself, is what really gives the drink its ripe aroma and flavor.

What sets this martini apart from other similar recipes is in the impressive garnish that tops off the cocktail. Envisioning a more complex flavor to complement the purity of the drink, Klaus pairs a pear, freshly poached in balsamic vinegar, to each drink. Think dirty fruit martini: the acid from the vinegar adds salty depth and balance to the clarity of the other ingredients.

The Sondra Martini is an adventurous take on class and elegance. So sit back and celebrate 2013 in style.

How to Make The Sondra Martini

Combine 3 parts Grey Goose La Poire vodka, 2 parts fresh pear nectar and 1 part Mathilde pear liqueur in a shaker, with ice.

Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a fresh slice of balsamic poached pear and enjoy.

Where to Get The Sondra Martini

The 13th Floor at the Belvedere

1 E. Chase St., Mount Vernon

410-347-0880

13floorbelvedere.com

$12