[MARTINI & I] The American: Howard Lo

 Howard sipping a martini



This month, we celebrate the king of cocktails – the martini. Over the next few weeks, join us as martini buffs open up about their relationship with what some have dubbed the ultimate cocktail. 



The martini and I are not friends. Perhaps rivals, a frenemy, or a fling, but not friends. Smart enough to know we make each other better, but reckless with how we spend our time together.

The martini is my unbridled, brash drink. A powerhouse of booze; double-pour only please. While some ask for shaken or stirred (stirred, of course) I focus on making it bone dry. Let the gin peek at the vermouth, breathe in the fumes, but for the love of God, at the most only a drop added to my spirit.

We’ve grown up together; from the early days when it was just the drink to get drunk, fast. Before the days of Mad Men glam, it was happy hour specials on a budget, a drink that only a young man’s stomach could take in large quantities.

Howard Lo

My best friend’s father came to Seattle on a working trip back in 1998. I had recently moved there to start my first job after graduating from university. I had been friends with his son since we were 11 years old, and I spent many hours at their house, eating their food and appreciating their hospitality. It was now my turn to host; we went to the Metropolitan Grill which was one of the top steakhouses in Seattle. I had never hung out alone with his dad before, and it was a big moment – drinking round after round of martinis, hearing stories about my friend’s childhood and mine from his father’s perspective. It was a moment of realising youth is over.

I have a fascination with raw food and simplicity. Think about it as enjoying something in a near pure form. Sashimi, steak tartare… raw items with only a touch of soy sauce or seasoning. Served chilled. One of life’s great little pleasures is the pairing of an ice-cold martini with sashimi and oysters. I’m such a believer that I almost named my restaurant Martini Fish, but wiser heads prevailed (and thus the name Tanuki Raw came about instead).

Howard and his martini

A martini is a commitment to drinking. It’s a clear-the-calendar-after-this-drink kind of drink, as once you have two there’s likely no better place to be. With people overloaded on social activities, bombarded with phone distractions, and toying with low-ABV cocktails, having a martini is a commitment – it must be drunk quickly before it warms up, so you need to be focused, in the moment, and ready to become gin-soaked. Commitment is rare.


American-born Howard Lo is the co-founder of Empire Eats Group, and a passionate martini drinker.



Martini 2021


Enjoy your own martini moment with PONY's Martini 2021, available now. Also, enjoy free delivery with orders above SGD70 for the month of March.


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