Category Archive 'Martini'
25 May 2022
Bird Dog, on Maggie’s Farm, linked Roger Angell’s New Yorker 2002 tribute to the greatest of all cocktails, the Martini.
The Martini is in, the Martini is back—or so young friends assure me. At Angelo and Maxie’s, on Park Avenue South, a thirtyish man with backswept Gordon Gekko hair lowers his cell as the bartender comes by and says, “Eddie, gimme a Bombay Sapphire, up.” At Patroon, a possibly married couple want two dirty Tanquerays—gin Martinis straight up, with the bits and leavings of a bottle of olives stirred in. At Nobu, a date begins with a saketini—a sake Martini with (avert your eyes) a sliver of cucumber on top. At Lotus, at the Merc Bar, and all over town, extremely thin young women hold their stemmed cocktail glasses at a little distance from their chests and avidly watch the shining oil twisted out of a strip of lemon peel spread across the pale surface of their gin or vodka Martini like a gas stain from an idling outboard. They are thinking Myrna Loy, they are thinking Nora Charles and Ava Gardner, and they are keeping their secret, which is that it was the chic shape of the glass—the slim narcissus stalk rising to a 1939 World’s Fair triangle above—that drew them to this drink. Before their first Martini ever, they saw themselves here with an icy Mart in one hand, sitting on a barstool, one leg crossed over the other, in a bar small enough so that a cigarette can be legally held in the other, and a curl of smoke rising above the murmurous conversation and the laughter. Heaven. The drink itself was a bit of a problem—that stark medicinal bite—but mercifully you can get a little help for that now with a splash of scarlet cranberry juice thrown in, or with a pink-grapefruit-cassis Martini, or a green-apple Martini, or a flat-out chocolate Martini, which makes you feel like a grownup twelve years old. All they are worried about—the tiniest dash of anxiety—is that this prettily tinted drink might allow someone to look at them and see Martha Stewart. Or that they’re drinking a variation on the Cosmopolitan, that Sarah Jessica Parker–“Sex and the City” craze that is so not in anymore.
Not to worry. In time, I think, these young topers will find their way back to the Martini, to the delectable real thing, and become more fashionable than they ever imagined. In the summer of 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at Hyde Park—it was a few weeks before the Second World War began—and as twilight fell F.D.R. said, “My mother does not approve of cocktails and thinks you should have a cup of tea.” The King said, “Neither does my mother.” Then they had a couple of rounds of Martinis.
I myself might have had a Martini that same evening, at my mother and stepfather’s house in Maine, though at eighteen—almost nineteen—I was still young enough to prefer something sweeter, like the yummy, Cointreau-laced Sidecar. The Martini meant more, I knew that much, and soon thereafter, at college, I could order one or mix one with aplomb. As Ogden Nash put it, in “A Drink with Something in It”:
There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth—
I think that perhaps it’s the gin.
He failed to include Dorothy Parker’s poem:
“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.”
11 Jan 2009
Eric Felton reports that European vermouth maker Noilly Prat has decided to quit making the special dry-formula vermouth favored by Americans for modest use in the ultimate cocktail, the Martini. Only a far-sweeter and heavier, soi disant “traditional” formula Noilly Prat will be available henceforward.
First Obama wins the election, then this!
Felten quotes the poet Hugo Williams: “What a strange coincidence it is that everything always changes for the worse during the course of a single lifetime.”
01 Dec 2007
Charles Bork, at National Review, identifies the increasing dryness of the West’s most popular cocktail as a barometer of Western Civilization’s decline.
â€œThe Gilded Ageâ€ (c. 1895-1920) â€¢ 3 parts dry gin â€¢ 1 part dry vermouth
â€œThe Jazz Ageâ€ (c. 1920-1940) â€¢ 5 parts dry gin â€¢ 1 part dry vermouth
â€œThe Greatest Generationâ€ (c. 1940-1965) â€¢ 7 parts dry gin â€¢ 1 part dry vermouth
â€œThe Worst Generationâ€ (c. 1965-1985) â€¢ 15 parts dry gin â€¢ 1 part dry vermouth
â€œThe Postmodern Ageâ€ (c. 1985-present) â€¢ 3 ounces of gin â€¢ whisper the word â€œvermouthâ€ over the shaker
Read the whole thing, then mix and shake.
03 May 2007
Yesterday’s Times featured a better-than-average consumer report detailing a a New York Times panels’ gin-tasting conclusions aiming at the ideal Martini.
The gins sampled included a commendably exotic selection.
Our favorite martini gin, Plymouth English Gin, could not have been more stylish and graceful. Plymouth has the classic juniper-based gin profile, yet it is uncommonly subtle and smooth. Still, it is assertive, its complexity emerging slowly but distinctly, the proverbial fist in a velvet glove.
By contrast, our No. 2 and No. 3 gins emphasized power. The Junipero, made in small quantities by the distilling branch of the Anchor brewery in San Francisco, came on strong with the traditional gin flavors of juniper and citrus, hitting all the right notes, though a little self-consciously.
The No. 3 gin, Cadenheadâ€™s Old Raj from Scotland, at 110 proof, or 55 percent alcohol, was by far the most powerful gin we tasted: Tanqueray and Tanqueray No. 10 at 94.6 proof were the next highest. But while Old Raj packed a punch, its muscularity came across as bright and in control.
Two standbys of the American cocktail cabinet fared well as martinis. Seagramâ€™s Extra Dry came in at No. 4. We found it surprisingly complex in the glass, with fruit, herbal and gingery spice notes, yet it didnâ€™t stray far from the gin ideal, while Gordonâ€™s London Dry adhered to the straight and narrow, with a slight emphasis of spicy cardamom and nutmeg aromas.
Tanqueray London Dry made a classic though quiet martini. Its livelier cousin, Tanqueray No. 10, with its emphasis on citrus flavors, may work well neat or with tonic, but was discordant in a martini.
In fact, in the context of a dry martini, few of the newer, hipper gins worked. Aviation is a popular gin out of Portland, Ore., but its predominant flavors of wintergreen, vanilla and anise had no place in a martini. Nor did the menthol and peppermint in Gâ€™Vine, a new French gin, the pronounced melon fruitiness in Hamptons, made in Minnesota, or the cinnamon emphasis in No. 209 out of San Francisco.
â€œWhat was really striking was how un-dry some of these were â€” like bathing in canned fruit or a postnasal saccharine drip,â€ Pete said.
We didnâ€™t reject all of the less conventional gins. With its floral aromas, Hendrickâ€™s from Scotland seemed to work from a different palette of botanicals, and it made for a lively, colorful martini. Bombay Sapphire was sort of jazzy â€” a martini that intrigued without really hanging together. Both Quintessential and Martin Millerâ€™s hit odd notes, though they made pretty good martinis.
We each had a favorite that didnâ€™t make the top 10. I liked Citadelle, a new-wave French gin. I felt its unconventional citrus flavors merged well with evergreen aromas, but the others disagreed.
Likewise, Audrey was pleased with that old standby Beefeater, while I found the flavors indistinct. Florence, who adores Tanqueray, liked the Tanqueray No. 10 as well, while Pete was more inclined to the Gâ€™Vine than the rest of us.
I thought giving top marks to Plymouth (Travis McGee’s old favorite) was a very defensible choice.
Cadenhead’s Old Raj is interesting. It was clearly created to exploit the over-rich sucker market of those who will reliably buy any over-priced product, because they have to have “the best.” There is no legitimate basis for a bottle of gin retailing at $50+. (I’ve seen it priced closer to $80.) Its color is precisely that of snake venom, and rightly so, because Old Raj really does “biteth like the serpent and stingeth like the adder.” The stuff is so high proof, that it limits you to one drink (instead of your usual two). Two generous drinks mixed with Old Raj and you’re a goner.
My own opinion is that the panel over-praised Junipero and Hendrick’s, I think neither is well-balanced, and unreasonably slighted the classic Beefeater’s.
They should have included the humble Gilbey’s (the absurdly cheap bar gin), just to demonstrate how good a bottom-of-the-market in price terms gin actually can be.
And I would have added the little-known, moderately priced (around $27) Desert Juniper gin, produced by Bend Distillery of Bend, Oregon. Generously flavored with huge doses of the native Juniper berries which grow abundantly in the desert of Eastern Oregon, this particular gin has been a recent favorite of mine.