Picon Punch may not have put The Martin Hotel on the map, but a podcast about the iconic Basque drink introduced the restaurant to a wider audience.
Described as “A podcast about movement,” Van Sounds is an internet audio show that highlights locations, experiences and music. It’s produced by Fil Corbitt.
The Dec. 7 episode, entitled “Picon,” explores the relationship between Picon Punch and its Basque culture in the Great Basin. Corbitt visits Basque eateries all over Nevada, including The Martin.
John Arant, owner of the Martin, said Corbitt called him one day and set up an interview for the episode.
“We set up a time, I think it was right after lunch, and lo and behold, he showed up!” Arant said.
About the podcast interview, Arant said, “It was really very interesting. He (Corbitt) asked very good questions. He was very conversational about the whole thing.”
In the podcast, Corbitt mentions the individual quirks each Basque eatery has when serving the Picon, like whether or not to include club soda or Grenadine. These choices reflect the towns themselves.
“One of the magic parts of our Picon Punch is we do stir the drink 13 times,” Arant said in the podcast.
Later, when asked if customers counted the number of stirs, Arant replied with a chuckle, “The regular customers know what we’re supposed to do and they’ll catch us if we shortcut. Or do too many. If we get distracted.”
Corbitt said The Martin’s Picon “seemed to be a lot of people’s favorite.” When Corbitt described The Martin, he said, “There is something about the place that just feels comfortable.”
The podcast’s feature of The Martin included a story Arant has told a number of times: his first experience drinking a Picon. “I had one. It took me an hour to drink it. And when I was done, I couldn’t feel my feet.”
Corbitt said, “A lot of people describe drinking a Picon as an experience. Partially because it’s a challenge acquiring a taste for it, but mainly because it’s a drink that changes as you work your way through it.”
When asked what the Picon meant to him, Arant said, “The Picon itself is what a Basque restaurant is. We’re all about food — and it’s really good — and we’re all about family-style dining, but the Picon marks a Basque restaurant.”
“It’s the hub,” Arant continued. “Everything else is around it.”
“When you see a Basque restaurant, I don’t know of one that isn’t hard against the railroad tracks,” Arant said in the podcast. “It is part of our tradition. All of the Basque houses are movement-oriented. So the Picon just becomes part of that.”
The Van Sounds podcast can be found at www.vansounds.org, via Stitcher, on iTunes or SoundCloud.