When my friend Meredith told me that a new(ish) restaurant in Marlborough served “secret martinis,” I was intrigued.
“They’d cost $20 in Boston,” she added.
And so we met at Double T’s Tavern, an unassuming venue off the main drag with a few wooden picnic tables outside (and a packed bar scene inside). The street looks like the “American Graffiti” movie set — a throwback of quiet storefronts without cars or crowds.
Meredith called to confirm that we’d land an outdoor seat on a Saturday evening — the equivalent of winning the lottery closer to Boston. No problem, they said. Just come on down.
Really? Yes, it was true. Our table of four was seated right away by an affable waiter named Gary, who managed to balance plates of food on his forearms while never losing his smile.
Drinks are made by martini magician Tom Peretzian, who owns the restaurant with his son, also named Tom (hence the double T).
Peretzian is a restaurant vet: He ran Antonio’s pizza in Medford, Porky’s on Revere Beach, and Tony Pilla’s in Woburn. His son attended Johnson & Wales. They opened in April 2019, pre-pandemic, taking over Sully’s Pub. (Peretzian is a longtime patron of Roc’s unisex salon nearby, so the location appealed.)
His customers have stayed loyal despite COVID-19, he says.
The drinks, most about $10, are a big reason why. Peretzian isn’t a martini lover himself, but he has an uncanny ability to replicate any flavor in martini form: cereal milk, Key Lime pie, Thin Mints.
“I don’t drink any of those drinks, so I do them by smell,” he says.
His Thin Mint martini definitely isn’t appropriate for Girl Scouts. It’s all alcohol except for a squeeze of Hershey’s syrup: vanilla vodka, crème de cacao, peppermint Schnapps, and house-made vanilla cream liqueur. It tastes almost as good as what’s sold door to door. The Key Lime martini — his longtime favorite — is a lime green birdbath that combines Pearl vanilla vodka, KeKe key lime pie liqueur, and Rose’s lime juice.
“You can almost taste graham crackers, and it’s the chemical combination,” he says. There are no graham crackers to be found in his drink.
An off-menu specialty: the Bottom of the Bowl martini, which smells like the milky remnants of a Fruit Loops bowl. It’s made with Three Olives Loopy vodka, Baileys Irish Cream, house-made vanilla liqueur, and butterscotch Schnapps.
You will need food to absorb all this alcohol. The family is Armenian and serves several regional specialties, like lahmejun ($8), canoe-shaped dough layered with minced meat, tomato, and spices. Gary also brings us an enormous pan of $9 “Marlborough” poutine, which is basically fries slicked with gravy. Those are fine, but the real hits are the fried pepperonis ($7.99) and pickles ($8).
Fried pepperoni could be a redundantly flaccid cylinder of goo. Not here. Chef Tom’s pepperonis are crisp and crackly, like tangy sliced Slim Jims. They come with a tub of mango mayonnaise, as do the pickles, which are crunchy and juicy. They are the perfect bar snacks to sop up all that flavored vodka.
Gary obligingly offers up a to-go version of Bottom of the Bowl as we head out — a floppy plastic bag containing all the makings of a creamy hangover. But fair prices, warm service, and a few more fried pepperonis for the road ease the pain.
Double T’s Tavern, 11B Florence St., Marlborough, 508-485-0007