Martini Quotes

"I'm not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube.

I'm talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight.. comfort; redemption and absolution. I'm talking MARTINI.

Anonymous

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mescal, Malcolm, and Martinis



Mescal


     Mescal is definitely not gin.  But, it is the drink of choice for that most inebriated of characters,The Consul, in one of my favorite novels of all time Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, who did, in fact, enjoy his Bols London dry gin.  Mescal is actually quite closely related to tequila, but whereas tequila is mostly distilled from the blue agave plant, mescal is produced by harvesting the maguey plant, which is a somewhat different although a closely related agave.  The piña, or heart, of the plant is removed and cooked, traditionally in earthen pit ovens.  This underground roasting imparts a smoky flavor to the final product. From this cooked piña , a mash is produced which is allowed to ferment, and subsequently distilled to produce the spirit known as Mescal.  The plant can be found throughout Mexico, but it is in and around the town of Oaxaca that mescal is typically associated and it is here that Malcolm Lowry settled down for a while forming the backdrop for his opus.


Malcolm

      For those of you unfamiliar with this author, Clarence Malcolm Lowry was born in New Brighton, England in 1909.  He grew up in a well to do family on a small estate.   He established his drinking career at the tender age of 14 and remained an alcohol enthusiast until the end.  Being a bit of a free spirit, he wanted to see the world and decided going to sea would suit his fancy.  He petitioned his father who acquiesced.  So in May of 1927, rather than enter Cambridge, he set sail as a deckhand on the S.S. Pyrrhus headed to the far east.  His experience asea paid off and gave him the material for his first novel, Ultramarine.  On his return, he did eventually attend Cambridge from whence he graduated in 1931 with an honors degree in English.

      With a turbulent marriage in tow, Lowry moved to Mexico, arriving in the city of Cuernavaca on November 2, 1936, the Day of the Dead, a sort of Mexican Halloween,  in a final attempt to salvage their marriage. Lowry continued to drink heavily, though he also poured more energy into his writing.  His wife eventually left him. Alone in Oaxaca, Lowry entered into another period of dark alcoholic excess, culminating in his being deported from the country.  Imagine being deported from a country because you drink too much.  Something about that just doesn't seem right, particularly in Mexico. 

      A troubled Malcolm Lowry died in a rented cottage in the village of Ripe, Sussex, where he was living with his second wife. The coroner's verdict was "death by misadventure", and the causes of death given as inhalation of stomach contents, barbiturate poisoning, and excessive consumption of alcohol.  The exact circumstances of his death are the subject of some debate, and much nefarious conjecture.  

     I have read Under the Volcano three times now and remain firmly convinced that it will take several more readings to fully capture the depth of symbolism ensconced within the text.  I refer to a book such as this as wet, as every page seems to drip with symbolism .  There have been books, reviews and entire classes dedicated to the study of the text, so I wont waste your time here.  I refer you to the Malcolm Lowry Project for that.  

      Much of the story in the novel is autobiographical, shadowing both his life and ultimately his death.  The text is rich with allusion to many a significant literary greats including Dante', Milton, Goethe, and many others.  To me, it is a perfect novel about a perfectly tragic character written by a perfectly tragic author.  And so I offer up a tribute to the Consul, Goeffrey Firmin, and his human counterpart, Malcolm Lowry:


The Oaxacan Martini
  • 2 oz  Mescal
  • 1 oz  Extra Dry Vermouth
  • .5 oz Olive Juice



Enjoy your spirits and try not to get deported.


Monday, March 23, 2015

The Anesthesia Martini

Anesthesia, and  Recipes


Anesthesia

     As I look back to the start of my medical career as a fledgling resident in Anesthesia, I recall having a certain amount of trepidation.  I can distinctly remember how I was uneasy with the thought of choosing the type of anesthesia for a particular type of surgery.  Should a total knee replacement patient have a general anesthetic or a spinal anesthetic, or what about an epidural, which would also provide post operative pain control?  My anesthesia chairman and mentor, Dr. Paul Levesque said, "It is not cook book anesthesia, Dr. Curtin."  I have always remembered that statement.  I came to realize that as a consultant in anesthesia, I was expected to use my knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology to tailor an anesthetic plan for a particular patient for a particular surgery.  Patient conditions will change, surgical procedures will change, the medications will change, and the combinations seem infinite. 

     Recipes 


      It is like that when one considers the Martini.  With the Martini, there are several ingredients to contemplate; the gin, vermouth, water, and garnish.  The water is out of our control.  That is in the hands of the distillers, but it remains important nonetheless, consider Martin Miller's Gin for example.  When creating a Martini, a balancing act is necessary to merge the flavor of the gin and it's botanicals with the vermouth and garnish.   As a youth, it seemed as if my friends and I would always be arguing about "the best."  There was always a best group, the fastest car, the best job, the coolest thing.    As I got a bit older, I began to realize that things are more about a enjoying a variety rather than an absolute best or worst.  There are shades of grey and I make no allusion to that absolutely trashy novel with no value in literature whatsoever. 


      I may not be a culinary genius, and I'm sure chef Ramsay would toss me out of Hell's Kitchen for one reason or another. That being said, I consider myself a good cook with a good sense of combining flavors.   I attribute this to my Italian heritage from the maternal side of the family.  The town in which I grew up was approximately 90% Italian.  For most of my youth, I believed everyone was in some way Italian and Roman Catholic. Life was good, simple, and safe.  Some of my earliest memories are remembrances from the kitchen- my mother's and grandmother's.  Although most of the time I was being chased around it with a wooden spoon!  

      Next time you are contemplating executing a Martini, consider it as a chef would deliberate executing a dish.  Just as you would balance sweet, sour, salt, savory, heat in your food, examine the ingredients to the Martini in a similar light.  The botanicals of gin come into play in an ever expanding assortment.  Lemon, pepper, licorice are all common accompaniments to the juniper in gin.  They tend to be softened by the vermouth.  Try playing those flavors against the garnish.  The traditional garnish chosen for the martini is an briny olive, or two or three, and the cocktail onion for a Gibson Martini, but there are others. There is the lemon twist.  Newer additions are the bleu cheese stuffed olive as well as the savory herbs lavender and thyme.  I had a bartender make me a Hendricks martini with a cucumber garnish which was absolutely divine.  I approach making a Martini, as I would any dish.  It is a fusion of flavors with an expression of love.  
As you can see, being an anesthesiologist, a chef, and a Martini mixologist are similar in a some ways.  I invite everyone to be a bit of an anesthesiologist when it comes to the Martini. Remember, gin was originally used for medicinal purposes, and in high enough doses, 

alcohol is an anesthetic!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

La Primavera

Calendars, Races, and Gin


The Season

      Spring at last!   Although having broken the all time snowfall record just a few days ago, there is a bitter irony in that statement. But it is the appreciation of  Pit and Irony that make for a rich life or at least that's what Bill  was trying to convey to Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises.  The title of said novel was quite brilliantly played by Hemingway.  It is based on a quote in the Old Testament by Ecclesiastes -   "What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose."  Herein lies much of Hemingway's personal philosophy, that man may be battered and lost, such as the post war generation, but man is not destroyed, but perseveres- "abideth for ever."  Well, this winter has certainly battered more than a few hardy New Englanders, but we March on, Spring has arrived, if only in calendar format.



     Spring in the astronomical sense is referred to as the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere.  The term Equinox is derived from the Latin aeques or equal, and nox meaning night.  At this time of year, the sun passes directly over the equator and the length of daylight to night is equal.  Although strictly speaking, there is some variation due to light refraction.   That being said, the vernal equinox has always been prominent in the calendar.

      The calendar which is in use today was instituted by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.  Prior to the Gregorian calendar was the Julian calendar, created by none other than that most famous Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar.  His want of control over all things, which led him to cross the Rubicon in 49 BC, extended from the terrestrial world to the celestial skies in 45 BC when he created his own calendar.  He set the spring equinox on March 25.  This calendar was slightly longer than a solar calendar year which lead to the spring falling progressively earlier in the year.  By 1500 AD, it had reached March 11.  Pope Gregory the XIII would have none of that.  The problem with the Julian calendar was that it became possible for Easter to fall prior to the equinox which was contrary to the Council of Nicaea and thus the Gregorian calendar was instituted to right the ship.



The Race


 With the start of spring comes the beginning of the classics season in cycling. While the road cycling season has continued to expand, starting in January in the Tour Down Under in Australia (where else?), the cycling traditionalists recognize only Milan- San Remo as the true start to the season held on the third Saturday of March.  La Classicissima is commonly referred to as La Primavera, Italian for Spring or literally first green.  It is the longest one day professional race at 298 km.  That, my friends, is a long day in the saddle.  At roughly the halfway point, the riders traverse through the Turchino Tunnel, cut through a cliff in the Orba valley.  This is where the race really begins and has always stood as a psychological on the race.  It was here that Il Campionissimo Fausto Coppi attacked the peleton on March 19, 1946, and came out of the tunnel with the lead which he held all the way to the end... 150 km of solo attack with 200 other riders trying to chase him down.  It remains one of the great wins in all of cycling lore.  As Milan San Remo signals the birth of the cycling season, the win by Coppi signaled the emergence of Italy from the fractured elements of the war.


The Gin 

      Gin is the perfect spirit for ushering in the Spring season. The juniper flavor with it's piney aroma speaks to the outdoors and fresh air.  The exotic botanicals give an earthy note that peels back the cold frost to expose something fresh and new. Spring 44 Gin seems to fit the bill nicely.  The distillery is located in Colorado and utilizes artesian spring water from the Rocky Mountains.  Water is, in fact, the main component in gin, and every other spirit for that matter.  It's importance is vastly under-appreciated in regards to the overall contribution to taste.  Martin Millers Gin has a similar take on water quality and sources theirs from Iceland.  In addition to the crisp, fresh, Rocky Mountain water, the botanicals include Juniper, Coriander, Nutmeg, and Agave Nectar.   For a review check out The Gin Is In.  But, I recommend a personal tasting in an ice cold Martini to toast in the Spring.


Here's to warm temperatures and cold gin!








Monday, March 16, 2015

Saint Patrick's Day

     

      March 17 is nearly upon us and I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look back at the history of Saint Patrick for which we have much to be thankful for.  Two Latin letters survive which are generally accepted to have been written by St. Patrick. These are the Declaration (Latin: Confessio) and the Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus (Latin: Epistola),from which come the only generally accepted details of his life.  He was born a Roman-Britain towards the end of the fourth century, some dating it as 385 AD.  He was  born to a privileged family and his father was the local deacon.  At an early age he was abducted by raiders who sold him into slavery in what was then mostly pagan Ireland.  He was held captive for six years generally employed tending sheep.  He stated that he felt he was told by God to flee to the coast in order to escape. He is said to have walked 200 miles in order to effect his escape. 

     Upon his return to his homeland,  he saw an angel in a dream telling him to return to Ireland to convert the pagans to Christianity.  He began his studies for the clergy which took him the next 15 years to complete.  He became a bishop and received his blessing from the Pope to complete his missionary calling in Ireland.


     Saint Patrick was very resourceful in his use of local customs to enlighten the pagan people of Eire.  He utilized the symbols of the pagans which allowed them to more easily understand what he was trying to teach and to gain their acceptance.  For example, he would use bonfires during gatherings just as the pagans did.  The symbol of the sun was also very prominent in their beliefs.  One of the theories as to the origin of the Celtic Cross is that St. Patrick incorporated the round sun symbol of the pagan belief system into the more standard Christian Cross which is now the Celtic Cross that we see today.  He is also associated with the three lobed shamrock.  Saint Patrick is said to have used this native plant  to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the pagans.


      
      As much of the lore of the ancient Irish was handed down by oral tradition, much of that history has been  exaggerated or misunderstood.  For instance, St. Patrick was famously known for ridding the Emerald Isle of snakes.  In actuality, there probably never were any snakes in Ireland  to begin with.  The story really relates the symbolic eradication of pagan beliefs which were commonly associated with the symbol of the snake.


With that history in mind, we will soon be filling the taverns with beer enthusiasts and the streets with parades.  The City of Chicago will be turning their river green, and green dye will be added to the taps around the world, for it seems that everyone is a bit Irish for a day.  
      A cursory glance a few years ago revealed a couple of distilleries producing gin on the Emerald Isle.  But, the craft gin Renaissance that has been spreading the world over has as strong a presence in Ireland as anywhere.  Putting their rich whiskey distilling heritage to task, there are now a number of fine gins coming out of Ireland today.  To date, I have only had the opportunity to sample Dingle, which I previously discussed and recommended as a wonderful balanced gin with a taste that really attempts and succeeds in incorporating the local flavors of the land.  Others on the list include Cork Dry Gin, Glendalough, Blackwater, and Shortcross.  I am looking forward to giving them all a try.





Why not celebrate Saint Patrick's Day by expanding your palate beyond the green beer and try  a green Martini- The Emerald Isle?


  • Start with a nice Irish Gin
  • Substitute a little Creme de Menthe for the vermouth, 
  • add a dash of bitters or two. 
  • Garnish with a mint leave.



Erin Go Bragh!



Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Ides of March

Julius Caesar, Juniper, and the Martini

Caesar and the Ides of March

As most people know, the Ides of March is another name for the 15th day in the month of March.  However, few know how important the Ides was to classical history.  In the Roman Republic, Rome's society and government before the rise of Augustus (Octavian) Caesar, the Ides of March was a major holiday of celebration.  Each month on the Roman calendar had "its own ides", but March (Martius) was special in that it was the first month of the year on the oldest Roman calendar.  Therefore, the Ides of March was usually the first full moon of the year for the Romans and so the celebrations during the month have been compared to our present day New Year's celebrations.  Though the fact that March meant a new year was a big deal, an even greater deal concerning the Ides of March particularly was that it was the feast or celebration of the Roman king of the gods, Jupiter (Iuppiter).  So, when the 15th of March came around, Jupiter's priest would lead sheep to be sacrificed at the citadel (arx) in Rome.  As the sheep were led, waves of crowds would gather and cheer on the sacrifice.  Of course, food and drink (alcoholic) was aplenty and common people enjoyed picnicking throughout the day.  

Overall, the Ides of March of the Roman Republic was a time of social unity in Rome.  However, the Ides of March took on a whole new historical meaning in the year 44 B.C. (That's right, none of that politically correct BCE crap), when Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Roman Forum.  Led by Politicians Brutus and Cassius, over 50 senators took place in killing Caesar, as he was stabbed 23 times before falling to his death.  Of course, most people who have heard of Caesar's assassination often know William Shakespeare's famous line of, "et tu, Brute?" (Literally translated from Latin as "Even you, Brutus?") from his drama Julius Caesar, proclaimed by Caesar as his life is ended.  Most historians will deem Caesar's death as the end of the Roman Republic and the start of the Roman Empire.  After his death, civil wars broke out in Rome.  Caesar's nephew, Octavian, set out with a goal of vengeance for his uncle.  He first executed 300 Roman senators and then led a series of military victories.  Most noted were the victories of Octavian over Cassius and Brutus at the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C., and his final victory at the naval Battle of Actium in 34 B.C. over Mark Antony.  After these victories, Octavian took the name Augustus and founded the Roman Empire, making the Ides of March the origin for the Roman Empire!  In the new Empire, many people saw the Ides of March as a day to remember Rome's rebirth into a stronger region.  However, the day remained dedicated to Jupiter, and so the Ides was never truly devoted to celebrating the newfound empire.  So, what many people would call a typical day is really one enveloped in rich, Roman history.

The preceding primer in Roman History as it relates to the Ides of March is courtesy of my guest blogger, Drew Curtin, currently a Latin II Honors scholar at Boston College High School.  He is also my videographer and video editor for the various videos included in previous posts, such as The Outdoor Martini Bar, The Winter of Despair,  and The Olio.   Drew maintains a YouTube channel at ClubHeroes. 

Juniper

      The ancient Romans used juniper berries as a cheap domestically-produced substitute for the expensive black pepper.  They also utilized the berries and it's oil for purification ceremonies and the treatment of stomach ailments.  Fast forwarding a bit, it was around the 11th century that Italian monks began producing a spirit with local botanicals and Juniper berries.   The Italian Juniper has a soft, smooth piney aroma with a slightly citrus note.  Today, the Italian sourced Juniper is a favorite ingredient of the craft gin industry.

The Martini

     There are a number of stories that claim rights to the origin of the Martini.  I have looked at some of these in a past postThe Martini Genesis.  In one of these stories, the martini was created in 1912 at the New York Knickerbocker Hotel by Martini di Arma di Taggia, an Italian immigrant bartender. According to the story, one Martini di Arma di Taggia mixed dry vermouth and gin together and the mixture gained the favor of John D. Rockefeller. It is unclear whether this story holds any water, but there does seem to be an Italian stream that flows from Rome to the Juniper to the Martini.



Had Caesar, Cassius and Brutus had a three martini lunch, perhaps the whole of western civilization would  have turned out differently.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Me and My Uncle

The Family and  Gin


Uncle Val

      As I am want to do from time to time, I took a tour of the local liquor stores in search of something new to be found in the gin section. Having espied Uncle Val's Botanical Gin, I decided to take it home and give it a try.  The number of  craft gins seem to be multiplying exponentially, which is a good thing.  With so many choices how can one decide?  It's better to consider your choice as an adventure of different tastes rather than a choice of absolute good vs. evil.  This isn't the garden of Eden after all. 

      You probably are familiar with Sebastiani Winery started by Samuele Sebastiani 110 years ago.  But now, a fourth generation Sebastiani, August, began 35 Maple Street as the spirits division of the famous wine company family.  Company president August Sebastiani named the handcrafted, small-batch gin after a favorite uncle, Valerio Cecchetti, who is a retired physician near Lucca, Italy. “In addition to being a highly regarded doctor, Uncle Val is a great cook and avid gardener. The botanicals we selected for this unique gin — juniper, cucumber, lemon, sage and lavender — are the same as those Uncle Val likes to use in his cooking and grows in his home garden,” Sebastiani said.

Uncle Mike

      There must be something about uncles and gin that go together like a good gin and tonic.  I have to give credit to my own Uncle Mike who introduced me to gin at the evening campfires on the many hunting and fishing trips we went on along with my father.  He would always bring a bottle of Tangueray to make his "medicine".  He would make a gin and tonic with it and add a splash of Squirt to top it off. As I got older, I was given charge of making the "medicine" and eventually enjoying it myself.  Good Memories....




Grateful Dead 

      Uncles heading out on eye opening and sometimes life changing adventures with their nephews is a recurring theme among songwriters. The Grateful Dead made famous the song "Me and My Uncle" which was actually written by John Phillips of  The Mamas and the Papas.  The narrator and his uncle traverse the southwest back in the days of the old wild west.  A poker game leads to a brouhaha and the pair escape with the gold. Unfortunately, there is no gin drinking involved, as whiskey was the pervasive drink of choice in that environment.  Jimmy Buffet strikes a similar chord, pardon the pun, with "Pascagoula Run."  


     Getting back to Uncle Val,  the gin is distilled 5 times from grain.  They are really going for a clarified product here.  It is then passed through lava rock, a natural filter, to purify the spirit. There are actually 3 varieties produced- Botanical, Restorative, and Pepper. The herbs for the botanical variety include Juniper, lemon, sage, lavender and cucumber and are infused by steeping them in the neutral spirit with a bag just as you would with tea.  The spirit is cut with water from the cascade mountains, then bottled and labeled by hand. 

      To date, I have only had the opportunity to sample the botanical variety.  This gin offers a very up front citrus taste which is balanced with the sage and lavender.  It tails to a cucumber freshness, all with a juniper background that is always present but not primary in taste.  This is somewhat unique among gins, as you don't get any of the otherwise ubiquitous pepper, coriander, or anise flavors common to most gins.  This is one best had neat with a twist in my opinion.  I look forward to tasting the other varieties- The pepper sounds most intriguing.  As he always referred to it as medicine, I think Uncle Mike would prefer the Restorative.  

SALUTE! 



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Gold Thievery, Espionage, and the Martini


The Heist


     The theft of $5 million in gold bars passed by the bottom of the screen on the news ticker with little ado.  An armored car made an unscheduled stop on a "dark stretch of highway" in North Carolina.  It was reported that one of the guards thought he smelled gasoline and was feeling nauseous.  The driver pulled over presumably to let the ill appearing guard out of the vehicle to vomit.  Amazingly, at that very second, they were accosted by the robbers who shouted "Policia" interestingly enough speaking Spanish.  The authorities are a bit suspicious of this story, as well they should be, for the guards also speak mostly Spanish - coincidence I think not.  The authorities are waiting to clear up the stories with the help of interpreters.   It will be interesting to see if more of these surreptitious gold heists begin to occur.  The story eerily recalled to me the characters in Atlas Shrugged.  I would not be surprised to find out that the ringleader of the heist was none other than Ragnar Danneskjold, the pirate of the novel.  

The Pirate

      Ayn Rand  was born in Russia in 1905 and grew up at the time of the Russian revolutions. She witnessed first hand the social ruin that ensued and her novel about that epoch, We The Living,  is largely autobiographical.  Her final novel, which she considered her opus, is Atlas Shrugged.  For those unfamiliar with the novel, I highly recommend that you give it your time.  It is basically the story of the death of capitalistic innovation and entrepreneurialship, as it is hijacked by an ever increasing socialistic government and society in general. Sound familiar???? The three great minds that represent the hope of the return to a future representative democratic society are Francisco d'Anconio, who inherits and runs the worlds biggest mines, John Gault the mastermind, and Ragnar Danneskjold the pirate.  Although it was written in 1957, like all great novel it's themes are universal and timeless.

     In the novel, the general feeling of the population, and thus the government who needed their support to stay in power, was that every man would work according to his ability, but be paid according to his need.  This is a clear reference from The Communist Manifesto by Obama, I mean Karl Marx.  Ragnar was determined to fight this injustice by declaring war on "the looters" and repaying "the producers" the money that was robbed of them through unfair taxation policies.  He plundered government ships sending goods bought with tax money to foreign countries.  Ragnar discusses the legend of Robin Hood in the book, and how the folklore has become distorted and simplified over time to the story of a hero stealing from the rich to give to the poor. In actuality he was taking unjust government taxes and distributing them as charity. In Ragnar's world, he is trying to reverse the injustice of the government system albeit for somewhat different ideals.  In all of his privateering activities, he never accepted any form of fiat currency and only dealt with gold, the universal and enduring currency.  

Here is what Francisco d'Antonio,another main character in the novel had to say about gold:

Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it.

      It is clear that Rand is suspicious of governments, which I suppose is natural given her personal history of loss during the Russian Revolutions.  That governments in general, and the US in particular, went off the gold standard, was concerning to her.  Whether you believe in the gold standard or not, Atlas Shrugged is a great read nonetheless.

Goldfinger

      I would be remiss to start a discussion about gold in a martini blog without mentioning Auric Goldfinger from the James Bond film series.  Goldfinger was probably one of my favorite movies in the Bond series.  Auric plotted to set off a nuclear device within Fort Knox, making worthless the US Gold Supply.  As we were taken off the Gold Standard in 1933 by FDR, and I am not an economist by trade, it is unclear what, if anything,  this would have actually meant.  Be that as it may, it did make for an interesting plot.

      Perhaps one of the great lines in all the James Bond series came from this film as Auric had Bond strapped to a table with a laser slowly creeping up to slice him in half.
Bond inquired, "Do you expect me to talk?"
and Auric, half amused at the assumption retorted,
"No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die."


     As we all know, Bond was a Martini drinker, forever linked with his catchphrase,"shaken not stirred."  The first mention of him ordering something close to a true Martini  was in the book Casino Royale.  That cocktail, known as the Vesper, is basically a hybrid martini, made with gin and vodka, and a French aperitif wine instead of vermouth. Bond orders up:
“A dry martini. One. In a deep champagne goblet. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.”  Why he would add vodka to a perfectly good gin is beyond me, but then again he's the guy who's been with the likes of Honey Ryder, Plenty O'Toole, Holly Goodhead and Pussy Galore.

Martini Gold

      I have surveyed the Internet and found several brands of gin which actualcontain gold flakes. Perhaps adding gold flakes to an already perfect cocktail would be considered "Gilding the Lilly", but I would certainly like to give it a try.

If anyone can locate me a bottle, 
I would surely love to have a gold inspired Martini.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Olio


Spock, Seuss, and The Dress

     Well, I have been absent from the blogosphere for a while having taken a bit of a respite from mymartinimusings.  It has been a cathartic experience to do a little writing, but sometimes inspiration comes slowly.  In stark contrast to the idyllic tropic island paradise pictured here, I have been spending my hiatus from writing in the Glacial Gin Garden.  I must admit that I have become spoiled by the frigid conditions which have made for some absolutely clear, frosty Martinis without the need for the ever dilutional ice and shaker combo.  Today, the temperature actually climbed to a toasty 46 F, which is a relative 
heat wave given the arctic conditions of this winter.  I was forced to break out the shaker and ice, and  I was surprised to find the difference in taste as striking as it was.  Alas, although a little more snow fell last night, and a little more will greet me in the morning, the days of the gin cave are numbered.  Temperatures forecast for next week will break the melting point, and soon the gin cave will be no more. I will just have to buy another freezer to keep my Gin as cold as it has been in the Glacial Gin Garden.




Spock


      Over the past week, the major topics have been the death of Mr. Spock, Dr. Seuss' Birthday, and of course the unfathomable controversy over the color of "The Dress." There doesn't seem to be much in the way of Martini contemplation.  Or is there?

     Leonard Nimoy recently pasted away and will be missed by many. Not being a "Trekkie," I will not attempt to expound upon the life of Leonard Nimoy beyond what has been a national outcry of admiration for the man.  While most people know him for his role of Spock in the TV series Star Trek, he was a multi-talented individual who was a writer, singer, director and poet.  Those who knew him best have indicated that he was a truly sincere person, which is something difficult to find in the world today.  Toward the end, he tweeted from one of his poems "A life is like a garden.  Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory."  His final tweet was "LLAP" a reference to Spock's famous catchphrase- Live long and prosper. 


     Tonight then, I plan on having a Klingon Martini.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Klingons, they were a rather gnarly group of aliens famous for, among other things, their strong libations.  I have found a recipe for their Martini, which is the same as a human Martini with the addition of a dash of bloodwine.  This beverage, peculiar to Klingons, is stated to be twice as strong whiskey.



Dr. Seuss

      Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, came into the world in 1904 in Springfield Massachusetts.  He was the son of German immigrant parents. What I found interesting was that his father and grandfather were both brew masters who ran their own brewery.    Ted, as he was called,  left Springfield to attend Dartmouth College, where he became editor-in-chief of the Jack-O-Lantern, Dartmouth's humor magazine. Seuss himself was a bit of a rabble-rouser cutting short his tenure as editor.  It ended prematurely when Ted and his friends were caught throwing a drinking party, which was against the prohibition laws and school policy, he continued to contribute to the magazine. 


     The only evidence I have found linking Dr. Seuss to a Martini is in his comic trashing of the social scene depicted in his "Martini Bird" drawing.  In the early sixties, Theodore Geisel painted his impression of the ladies in his social circle and around his neighborhood. The November 1964 issue of McCall’s Magazine said of the “La Jolla Birdwoman” series…

It delights Geisel, a bird watcher on the social scene, when he isolates the not-too-rare local species he calls the La Jolla Birdwoman as it functions in its native habitat of luncheons, parties, and charity balls.

Substituting Drink for Eat in Green Eggs and Ham could apply to the Martini.

And I would eat them in a boat.
And I would eat them with a goat…

And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good, so good, you see!

So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!

The Dress



      What can I say that hasn't already been said.  That this controversy can take up so much time, energy, debate and research is at once laughable and telling about our society at large.  If you want to get really technical, we don't really see an object's color as it is anyway.  What the human eye sees is only the light reflected off that object.  The rest of the light spectrum striking the object is absorbed by the thing itself.  So it is unclear if we ever can know the color of the thing itself.  I think this is how Immanuel Kant would look at this issue.  In any event, there appear to be two kinds of people in the world: those that see a white and gold dress (like myself) and those that see a blue and black dress.  Another way to look at it is that there are two kinds of people in the world:

Those that have not had enough Martinis and those that have had too many.

or as James Thurber put it-

One Martini is all right.  Two are too many, and three are not enough.