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.


Friday, April 17, 2015


Beaches, Books, and Whales


     Growing up on a beach town located on the East coast, summertime meant  heading over to the local beach for a little summer fun and relaxation while soaking up the sun. Maybe I would bring a good book or the radio, and enjoy the fresh salt air with the smell of coconut tanning oil wafting up.  All that was missing was a nice Martini, which I had not yet acquired a taste for, nor would I have been allowed to drink on the public beach.  And from this backdrop of shoreline reminiscences I encountered two recent news stories which caught my eye.  One of them was about a sperm whale which washed up on the California coast while the other story (how to put this delicately?) relates to a recent story posted on yahoo about a plus size blogger showing off her new swimsuit that has "gone viral."  At the risk of sounding somewhat insensitive, my mind linked these two seemingly disparate stories.


      Now before you go and start attacking me for a reference to the plus size blogger in the same post about a beached whale, let me say this:  It was actually the icon associated with the Yahoo story that first got my attention. It was a picture which referenced A Brave New World, that wonderful novel by Aldous Huxley.  The title of the novel is taken from Shakespeare's play, The Tempest.  In it, the character Miranda, who has lived on an isolated island, famously asserts the following lines upon meeting outsiders who come to the island:

O wonder!
How many godly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

That has such people in't.

In Huxley's novel, there is a similar moment, when the character John "the savage", who was brought up in an isolated "reservation", is brought back to the "modern" world.  There is irony aplenty in that utterance and I recommend you read the novel in it's entirety.  I believe the Yahoo writers have gone a bit overboard in equating this woman's shunning of social and fashion norms as John's refusal to submit  his ethos to "A Brave New World".  To her credit, the plus sized blogger rightly distanced herself from the brave label.  I think it borders on sacrilegious to mention such a fine novel in the same light as a discussion about the relative merits of a morbidly obese woman donning a bathing suit.  Such is the state of affairs in our own brave new world.


      This past Wednesday, at Mori Point in Sharp Park State Beach located in Pacifica, California, biologists and veterinarians arrived to investigate the likely cause of death of the sperm whale which washed ashore.  The whale had no broken bones, and though there was evidence of some hemorrhaging, it wasn’t enough to indicate being hit by a ship or other blunt-force trauma, according to the Marine Mammal Center. Likewise, there was no mention of harpoons.  What would have really made this story enthralling was if the whale were white and the skeleton of Captain Ahab was lashed to his carcass.  So apparently the White Whale, Moby Dick, may still be on the loose.  

      I queried google on Moby Dick, Herman Melville, and Gin.  Low and behold, there it was! I have read the novel twice and somehow glanced over this passage.  Perhaps watching the cinematic attempts to recreate the novel  have sullied my memory of the reading.  Surely I would have remembered the mention of this before. It is a recount of a manifest for the Dutch Whaling fleet. 
that I found a long detailed list of the outfits for the larders and cellars of 180 sail of Dutch whalemen; from which list, as translated by Dr. Snodhead, I transcribe the following:
400,000 lbs. of beef. 60,000 lbs. Friesland pork. 150,000 lbs. of stock fish. 550,000 lbs. of biscuit. 72,000 lbs. of soft bread. 2,800 firkins of butter. 20,000 lbs. Texel & Leyden cheese. 144,000 lbs. cheese (probably an inferior article). 550 ankers of Geneva. 10,800 barrels of beer.  Most statistical tables are parchingly dry in the reading; not so in the present case, however, where the reader is flooded with whole pipes, barrels, quarts, and gills of good gin and good cheer.
I did a little calculating and that 550 ankers of geneva is roughly 21000 liters!  For 180 men on a typical 3 month whale hunt, that would be about 1.3 liters of genever per day.  How they managed to sail the vessel, let alone hunt, kill, and process the whales, is beyond me.  I think that this warrants an experiment aboard one of those whale watching cruises.  Call Me Ishmael!

      To go along with our summer whale theme, you might want to try The Filthy Liar Syrup, which is a premade mixer for your favorite gin.  It is produced by  White Whale Mixers.
This cocktail mixer was handmade in Durham, North Carolina by White Whale. Made from lychee fruit and rosemary, the Filthy Liar Syrup adds a floral fruit flavor with an herbal kick to gin drinks.
8 fluid oz.
Pure filtered water, sugar, lychee juice, rosemary oil, clove, organic lime juice, natural flavors.
Each bottle makes 8 cocktails.

Looking forward to my next trip to the beach this summer, hopefully with no decomposing whales or questionable fashion statements.  Unfortunately Martinis are typically forbidden on public beaches,  something seems incredibly wrong with that.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Martian Martinis

The Mission

      While trying to decide which sci-fi adventure to watch with the boys tonight, and finally deciding on Prometheus,  I was introduced to the Mars One mission project. How I missed this one I don't know, but my boys are all very well versed on the subject. Apparently, someone has come up with an idea to start a human colony on Mars.  It is still in the early planning phases with an anticipated landing date perhaps in 2028 or so.   At first glance, it seems like the kind of thing that would suit me, but alas, the deadline has passed.  My 11 year old, Hunter, seemed genuinely concerned that Dad might want to leave his family for the angry red planet, but his older brothers recognized it as more of dad's whimsical and somewhat meandering musings.    

The Selection Process

      The selection process for astronauts began several years ago and they currently aren't accepting new applicants. So it would seem that I've missed the boat, or spacecraft in this case.   According to the website,"The astronauts must be intelligent, creative, psychologically stable and physically healthy." So far, so good, I'm thinking.  The only age criteria is 18 years or older, so that's not a problem.  Next are certain, what I would call, vague characteristics:

  1. resiliency
  2. adaptability
  3. curiosity
  4. ability to trust
  5. creativity/resourcefulness
I might have to bluff my way through some of those interview questions, especially number 4, but I think I could do it.  The only real problem as I see it (pardon the pun) would be the eyesight requirement which does need to be normal 20/20 vision.  Unfortunately, I've had to resort to the "cheaters" in recent years in order to read the fine print.  I suppose vision correction surgery would be necessary, or perhaps I could just blow them away with my survival skills culled from watching all those survival shows, like Man vs. Wild and Dual Survival.

Martian Martinis

      I have to admit that my real motivation for wanting to go to Mars is the prospect of starting the first Martian gin distillery.  I'm thinking this would be the ultimate small batch craft distillery.  Who in the gin world wouldn't want to procure a bottle of Martian gin?
Forget Martin Miller sending his spirits to Iceland for the water, I'm going to the Martian polar ice caps!  In terms of construction,  it should be simple enough.  I'm sure there would be plenty of engineering know how on board.  There would be plenty of time to work out all the details, as I would have to wait for the botanicals to grow in the greenhouse anyway.  I would like to proof it out beyond even a navy strength gin, perhaps 130 or so.  After all, navies only sail the seven seas and I'm going all the way to Mars!  It seems like the right thing to do.  This could be even better then my outdoor martini bar!

One remaining obstacle however is the vermouth.  I do not have a sufficient knowledge of it's production and I fear that it would prove too high a hurdle to overcome. Hopefully, someone will just bring the vermouth.  On the other hand, Mars is known for being exceptionally dry.  It only stands to reason then, that a Martian Martini should be made similarly arid.  So instead of looking in the direction of France or Italy in deference to the vermouth, I could bow to Earth when making my Martian Martini!  

I hope I'm not too old for the second wave of Mars astronauts.
Does Anyone Have a Good Name for a Martian Gin? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fools

Fools, Chaucer and Welles


    In trying to trace the roots of April Fool's Day, the path through history to the truth is anything but clear.  It is reminiscent of the history of Valentine's Day, a seemingly obvious holiday in honor of Saint Valentinus. But, in reality, there is more fiction than fact to the story.  One commonly held belief is that April Fool's Day dates back to that most famous Pope Gregory XIII.  When in 1582 he supplanted the Julian Calendar with the modern Gregorian one, he not only reset Spring, he also changed the beginning of the New Year.  In the Julian calendar, people typically celebrated the beginning of the new year with the start of spring which was celebrated at the end of march or the beginning of April.  In the Gregorian calendar, the new year clearly began on January 1.  Lacking 24 hour news, cell phones, and email, the news was a little slow to circulate.  Those negligent to the changes were still celebrating the onset of the new year on April 1.  The more enlightened crowd looked at those who were remiss as a bit silly and dubbed them "April Fools".  

     Whether this is the true origin of April Fool's Day or not, I cannot say for certain.  There are some other dark horse theories out there, which I am typically inclined to side with, but in this case, I'll go with the crowd favorite.  Besides, I like to go with the Popes.  I am hoping that perhaps it may lessen my time in Purgatorio.


      Geoffrey Chaucer, or at least his enthusiasts, can not stop from trying to weave themselves into history.  First, it was the initial literary mention of Valentines Day, and now the first mention of April Fools Day.  What next, did Chaucer first chronicle Easter? I think not.  In any event, there is a common misconception that the first reference to April Fool's Day dates back to The Canterbury Tales, written circa 1392.
      In the Nun's Priest's Tale, Chaucer tells the story of the vain cock, Chauntecler, who falls for the tricks of a fox, and as a consequence is almost eaten. The narrator describes the tale as occurring:

When that the monthe in which the world bigan
That highte March, whan God first maked man,
Was complet, and passed were also

Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two.

There is some ambiguity as to the translation.  While some scholars associate the 32 days to the start of March, others ascribe it to the end of the month.  Thus, it either pertains to April 1, or May 3.  Because the Nun's Priest Tale is essentially the story of a prank perpetrated upon the "foolish" cock by the sly fox, it is easy to see why choosing the date of April 1 would conveniently fit this theory.  If it is a reference to April Fool's Day, then it would be the earliest recorded reference to the day. However, Chaucer's choice of words is extremely ambiguous, and most scholars think he meant May 3, since that would be "thritty dayes and two" after March "was complet."


      Perhaps the greatest hoax perpetrated upon the American public, the current presidency notwithstanding, was the radio production of The War of the Worlds, written by H.G. Wells.  The book portrays an alien invasion of Earth.  The radio show was produced by a young Orson Welles and aired as a Halloween episode on October 30, 1938.  As the show was aired without commercial interruption, and was portrayed as a series of newscast bulletins, the show had a very real atmosphere about it.   A large number of people were duped by the show, lighting up the switchboards of the local authorities.  Welles gained significant notoriety and went on to a rather illustrious career in show business, producing and directing Citizen Kane, as well as The Magnificent Ambersons.  As some of you may recall from a previous post, Orson Welles was famously quoted on his take on the Negroni, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other."    I take exception with his description of gin as being bad for you.  We all know that it is actually quite medicinal.   But what did he know, he pulled an April fools joke on Halloween!

And so tonight, in honor of  Welles, Chaucer, and Pope Gregory XIII, I will have a vodka martini.

April's Fools!