Ambassador’s Martini!

Ambassador’s Martini!

Photo credit: Janet Donovan

Ambassador Marion Smoak was presented his own plaque at Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown as well as his own Martini.  Smoak, who celebrated his 101st birthday there, served as Chief of Protocol for President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State from 1969 to 1974, retiring with the rank of Ambassador.

“The Ambassador’s Martini” is made straight up, with dry vodka and three olives. Smoak is a regular at the restaurant and still enjoys a martini every night. He remembers his younger years well, too: While JFK was proposing to Jackie, Smoak was working at the Pentagon (he served in the military), and living with his brother in Arlington. “My apartment was the local dance floor,” he says of their house. “We wore the rug out.”  Washingtonian

For those out of towners who want to know why Martin’s Tavern is a watering spot not only for the rich, famous, elite of Washington, DC, but also famous for its casual drop in English pub atmosphere.  In the words of the owner Billy Martin:

“My grandfather was a very stocky, good looking Irishman with blond hair and I was told at one point that when they were bringing a caravan of whiskey down from up north, there was a scene almost out of Elliott Ness, if you will,” Billy Martin told Hollywood on the Potomac when talking about his grandfather. “The convoy was stopped in the dark of night, a line of headlights went on, stopped the caravan, a voice told everybody to get out of the cars that were bringing the caravan down and had them all line up out front of the headlights. A voice did holler out at that time and said, ‘The stocky guy with the blond hair, you stand over to the side.’ With that, everybody else lost their life. They took these tommy guns and they shot everybody and confiscated and/or stole the whiskey but let my grandfather go.  A lot of people asked why do you think or ‘Why was your grandfather spared?’ I think it probably was because Sam Rayburn was one of his best friends and he was very good friends with Lyndon Johnson.  I think that just with his connections, to keep from getting any backlash, they let my grandfather go.”

Martins Tavern

Martin’s Tavern

We thank the caravan whoever they were, because without Billy’s grandfather, there would be no Martin’s Tavern and without Martin’s Tavern, there would be no place for Georgetowners to go in a blizzard.  Right now it’s perfectly quiet outside and there are almost no pedestrians or cars in view, but we peeked inside the window of MT on the corner of Wisconsin and N Street and sure enough, the silverware was being put in place.  Soon there will be a waiting line as the heavy media crowd pours in with tablets and laptops where they will file their stories, complete with gossip from inside.

For those of you who are new to the area, we thought you might like some history so you feel right at home.

Billy Martin – His family story: