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Martini lounge mixes politics with pleasure during election year.

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Every March for five years, Budapest Blonde owner Ilona Simon has celebrated the NCAA basketball tournament by naming certain martinis after the teams. But with the presidential election this year, she's opted to christen the drinks after Barack, Hillary, and John for tonight's March Madness Martini Tasting. "It's a twist on the election, with martinis as metaphors for the candidates," says Ilona Simon, the club's owner. "We always had wine-and-martini tastings every month, with customers who are huge basketball fans. With the election this year, it's universal. There's a drink to represent everybody."For starters, there's the chocolate-vanilla mix — the Obamatini — to spotlight the Democrat's multicultural background. The raspberry-flavored Hillary goes down with an electric burst. And the cherry-heavy McCaintini is a lively and unpredictable number, just like the Arizona senator himself. Patrons can also scarf down gourmet cheese platters, quiches, and dips before taking home glassware, T-shirts, and bags raffled off throughout the night. And while voting is a private matter, no one's going to cut you off if your martini starts making you talk about your candidate. "We get single gals, couples, and after-work groups. It's quite a democratic mix," says Simon. "And this is all tongue-in-cheek fun about the political choices we have today." The tastings start at 7 tonight at Budapest Blonde, 6901 Rockside Road in Independence. Tickets are $25. Call 440-237-0292 or visit www.budapestblonde.com.
Wed., March 26, 7 p.m., 2008

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