Friday, December 13, 2013

The King of Beasts, Speakeasy Monthwise.

The visual most people get when they think "cocktail" or "speakeasy" or anything along those lines is The Dry Martini.

Other blogs, bless them, get into the historical aspects of who invented this, when and where.

I, frankly, cannot be made to care. What I really wish to focus on, as re. The Dry Martini, is the proper way to mix one, along with some practical detours on this matter.

First, a proper one is made with gin. I can more-or-less live with a vodka version is the imbiber requesting same says "vodka martini" upon ordering, in recognition he (or she, for we do not discriminate on the Yuletide...or any other tide, for that matter) is asking for a variation on the accepted standard.

Here is where we get to sit down like mature-ish adults and discuss the elephant in the room: Gin.

Gin -- and for those among the assembled who may be rabid cocktailians it may be a bitter truth to recognize -- is an acquired taste, like Saabs or reggae. Most non-cocktailians simply do not like gin, probably do not own any gin (at most they'll have some ancient leftover bottle from a party where they figured someone would have gin-and-tonics), and telling them gin is vodka+aromatics is not going to help.

These folks, when you tell them there are people who have 8+ bottles of gin in their arsenal (after getting over the shock that such people as cocktailians exist) look at you as if you've described your youngest daughter majoring in arson with a minor in "doing things to rodents with a fork."

The reason telling them gin is vodka+aromatics is not going to help is because it's these very aromatics (I'm looking at you, juniper) that are the hurdle which they have not yet found an easy way to clear. Cocktailians, as a tribe, suffer the fault of wishing to naturalize new tribespersons by Throwing Them Into The Deep End. Potential tribespeople, as it turns out, vehemently wish to not Be Thrown Into The Deep End and there the impasse remains.

The lovely and gracious and suspiciously youthful Lisa Birnbach, has provided us a new, better path of initiation into the joys of The Dry Martini. One with, oh, training wheels. In her book True Prep, she details a drink called The Mixed Marriage:

Cocktail hour demands drinks with brio. Not for us a bananatini or a lollipop-flavored frozen margarita. Simple daiquiris, gimlets and cosmos are okay for some, but the basic prep cocktail is a martini. Those Who Know have discovered that traditions need shaking up (or is it stirring?) from time to time. A vodka martini can seem boring, a gin martini can taste medicinal. Conventional wisdom dictates we never mix our liquors, but now and then we have to take a leap from the commonplace. Let us propose the Mixed Marriage; the Lucy and Desi of adult beverages.
The recipe for which is as follows:
Two jiggers Plymouth Gin
Two Jiggers Smirnoff
(my choice is Finlandia, but you do whatever) Vodka
One capful Noilly Prat Vermouth (Yes, we said a capful. It's a cocktail.)
Olive or twist, for garnish

La Birnbach has done two things here. First, she provides a gateway Martini a noble and commendable and charitable deed in and of itself and, also, smashes the loathsome "over-dryness" fetish, where vermouth is applied via dropper, atomizer or other means of similar paucity. A Martini has vermouth, people, and you're meant to taste the interplay between the base spirit and the modifier. (A modifier modifies, after all.)

This, especially if your fire/candlelit wintry cocktail party features an impressive representation of the distaff side, is an ideal start people along the One True Way.

Incidentally, Plymouth Gin, as mentioned above is the ideal introduction to gin. (More on the next post, wherein I delve into the specific elements.) In fact, it's my choice for gin-and-tonic. Also right-on-the-money is Noilly Prat, ideally the Extra Dry, as the vermouth of choice. (Ibid.)

Once you have people accepting this, it's a short leap to a classic version. And, because you deserve to know, here is my recipe for the classic:

2½ oz. gin (Plymouth if you have recent converts, Bombay Sapphire otherwise)
½ oz. Noilly Prat extra dry vermouth, (It should be cold, as open vermouth should be stored with a vacuum stopper in the fridge, buy the smallest bottle available.)
Cube ice as needed
1 lemon twist (no pith)
1 FROZEN martini glass

Fill your mixing beaker/glass with the fluids and ice and stir for two full minutes and then strain the Martini into your glass, and garnish with the lemon twist.

 And there you are. Now, stop living like an animal.


Blogger Colt said...

My secret for achieving the perfect dray martini is to add the vermouth, stir it vigorously, then strain the vermouth leaving the ice with a nice coating of vermouth. I then add the gin and stir again straining into a chilled martini glass.

This was largely born out of having to work with Utah's restrictive liquor laws that only allowed for an ounce of liquor in any mixed drink. I found though that it achieved the perfect hint of vermouth to compliment the botanicals of the gin.

11:27 PM  
Blogger JMG said...

I happen to like my martinis on the vermouth-y side, but we live in a pluralist society, so...

6:09 PM  
Blogger April Fleeman said...

I have at least 7 different gins. Minimum.

12:16 AM  

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