Apple Manhattan Martini

Life after death. I'm sure it's no coincidence that the owners of Vita, the Italian restaurant that opened in part of the old Olinger Mortuary in December, named their place after the Italian word for "life." The interior is certainly lively enough, with its exposed brick, dark wood, leather booths and expansive bar that extends through the floor-to-ceiling glass window and out onto a wide patio. At first I loved Vita's soft lighting, since it blurred the difference between my laugh lines and the dewy-eyed twenty-somethings at the bar. But then I looked at the menu, and I couldn't believe that anyone -- young or old, living or dead -- could actually read it. Yes, my presbyopia is advancing by the day, but I've yet to resort to cheaters -- and here I was, ready to rush over to Walgreens for a pair just so I could order a drink. Then the bartender, who was at least ten years my junior, came to the rescue and said that most people were challenged by the light, or lack thereof. He brought over a candle, which I promptly used to inadvertently light the menu on fire. After that, I just asked him to serve me something that I couldn't get anywhere else, and he came up with an ambrosial Apple Manhattan Martini ($8.50), made of Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey muddled with fresh apple, simple syrup and a squeeze of lemon. Although the menu says the bar uses Apple Pucker (or so I'm told; I couldn't see through the scorch marks), using real fruit makes for a perfect collision of lusty bourbon and sweet-but-not-sugary apple. To life!


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