The Gin is Cold but the Piano’s Hot at 9 Maple Avenue

9 Maple Avenue is an intimate, yet lively jazz bar located in Saratoga Springs, New York. For many horse racing enthusiasts, Saratoga Springs becomes an entertainment hotbed for six weeks every summer. From late July to Labor Day, a number of major stakes races, including the Travers Stakes, are run on the famous Saratoga Race Track.

But Saratoga Springs is not all about horse racing. The Spa City is also home to 
Stewart’s Shops, a popular convenience store chain, and the Saratoga Spring Water Co., which is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev. All of this information would make you think that Saratoga Springs is a city for business. But when the working day is done, there are some places for fun.

Labeled as the “Best Jazz Venue in Capital Region” by Metroland newspaper and rated the best martini by Saratogian Reader’s Choice, 9 Maple Avenue is an icon to area residents and tourists alike. The brick building may date back to 1880, but the scene inside is very much with the times. This place gets packed on Friday and Saturday nights, when some of the best jazz musicians get this bar jumping.

The Food Dudes came into Saratoga Springs looking for an escape from Lake George, which was recently transformed into an off-season ghost town. What we found was a city full of energy, and the general population agreed that 9 Maple Avenue was the place. We could tell as soon as we managed to squeeze our way in between the crowd and made our way to the bar that this was going to be a good night.

That first moment when you sit at the bar and look over the selection will leave you shocked. There are labeled sections for each type of alcohol. It’s not all jumbled together, each territory is marked with a clearly visible flag. And the menu? It depends on your poison, my friends.

9 Maple Avenue features individual menus for scotches and martinis, at last count there are over 150 single malt scotches and over 200 different martinis. No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. Of all the drink options, tonight felt like a martini kind of night. And being a fan of James Bond movies, I had to order the Vesper Martini.

The Vesper Martini is different from the spy’s usual martini. Instead of just gin, this uses gin and vodka. And instead of dry vermouth and an olive, this uses Lillet and a lemon peel. Allow me to go on a small tangent about Lillet, which is a brand of French wine that blends Bordeaux wines and macerated liqueurs. It’s not available everywhere, many places will use the Italian wine Cocchi Americano or dry vermouth as a substitute. And I thought all those mixology classes would never pay off.

I’ve had a Vesper at a bar closer to home, but 9 Maple Avenue’s version is alarmingly better. There’s no substitute for the Lillet, which is served chilled as opposed to room temperature. The martini has a bitter aftertaste, but to quote James Bond, “Once you’ve tasted it, you won’t drink anything else.”

As you may have noticed, this review is missing something. You probably are asking, this is Food Dudes, where’s the food? The running joke at 9 Maple Avenue is that they have free peanuts, and the more you drink, the funnier 
it gets. So stop on by and have a drink if you’re in the area, and don’t forget to tip your bartender.

9 Maple Avenue
9 Maple Avenue (as the name implies)
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518 – 583 – 2582

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s