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The 'Tree Martini' That Got Its Start On A Treacherous Ski Slope
By Haldan Kirsch
Taos Ski Valley owner Ernst Hermann Bloch started a tradition of hiding martinis in certain trees around the ski resort after giving a student a martini to calm her nerves. Bloch continued hiding martinis throughout the mountain, and by 1980, there were four documented "Martini Trees" on-site, inspiring the name of the Martini Tree Bar in Taos.
This tradition now has a new form at the resort, as students and instructors share a porrón filled with a martini from a locked box at the end of a week-long ski intensive. The traditional martini trees were phased out for liability reasons, as drinking alcohol in cold weather conditions is dangerous, and being impaired while skiing can lead to accidents.
Porróns are a type of Spanish wine vessel that allows drinkers to pour a stream from the mouth of the pitcher to their own, so visitors to the resort can share one without spreading germs. Ernie Blake never mentioned why his wife sent a porrón, but it is a fitting vessel for the secretive "martini trees."