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.


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!

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