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.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Tomtember and Tomcats

Leap Year

        Well it's that strange epoch where we try to reconcile our concept of time and calendar with the universe's machinations.   With the establishment of the Gregorian solar calendar, utilizing 365 days per year, we are forced to add a day every four years to make up for the fact that there are actually 365 and 1/4 days in the solstice cycle.   February seems to be a logical choice as the month has a dearth of days to begin with.  This too is perplexing to me- that there should be a different number of days in the various months.  It seems to me we would be better off if all of the months had an equal amount of days.  That is, in fact, more in line with a lunar based calendar where every month has 28 days.  Unfortunately, that would only produce 364 days in the calendar.   That is very unfortunate as I was entertaining the idea of naming the extra month Tomtember.  It would fall between August and September- my favorite season of the year- not too hot and not too cool.   Why the universe can't conform to my standards is beyond me.

Black Cats

      I was introduced to a Gin cocktail recently by way of my oldest son, Brandon, who was enjoying a meal with friends and family prior to a Boston College basketball game. Having inherited his father's partiality toward Gin, he sent me the cocktail menu with his libation of choice for the day.  

     Joy Division
         orange infused old tom gin
         galliano liqeur
         rhubarb bitters 

A discussion ensued as to what exactly is Old Tom Gin and from whence was that name derived.  If you recall your Gin history, it is generally accepted that the forerunner to modern day Gin was the Dutch beverage Jenever which was brought back to England by the soldiers returning from the 30 years War.  Gin production soared in England leading to a reactionary government movement to curtail it's production resulting in a British Gin Prohibition of sorts.  It is purported that the sign of a black cat or Tom outside an establishment was a signal that the beverage could be had therein.  The situation was analogous to the Prohibition Era of the United States and the evolution of bathtub gin and speak easy lounges.  By slipping a coin in a slot by the cat's paw, a shot of gin would be delivered through a pipe- I believe this may in fact be the world's first fast food concept, albeit Gin as opposed to burgers.  It took Roy Kroc several hundred years to apply the idea to the hamburger and establish McDonalds.  

Missing Link

      In terms of taste, Old Tom Gin has been referred to as "the missing link", between the malt based Genever and a traditional juniper forward London dry gin.  It is typically sweeter than London dry gin but drier than Genever, with a bit less of that Juniper forward characteristic.  How that sweetness is arrived at is a matter of debate.  The two schools of thought are that the sweetness either is derived from a choice of botanicals perhaps in conjunction with a malt wort or rather simply adding sugar at some point in the distillation (I would not add a couple of sugar packets to a bottle of Beefeater and think it sufficient).  Old Tom is somewhat mellower as well and this may stem from the fact that it was probably produced, or at least stored in, barrels back in good old 18th century England.  

      Gin is technically defined by the inclusion of Juniper to the mix of botanical ingredients. Anything after that is fair game which is why there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of marketed brands of Gin available today.  Old Tom Gin is a bit mellower and less dry than your standard London Dry Gin variety, but there is no less daunting an array of options to it's production.  Take the two here:

Hayman's is a time honored tradtional maker of several classic Gins.  Their Old Tom is produced from a venerable family recipe, sweetened with sugar and retaining a clear color.

Ransons is a relative newcomer that uses a more complex recipe and barrel aging to impart a smoother, sweeter Old Tom Gin relative to it's London Dry cousin, with an amber hue akin to whiskey.

Although they both categorize themselves as Old Tom Gins, they are very different in flavor profiles.  Hayman's is notably sweeter from the addition of sugar, whereas Ranson utilizes a malt barley wort and barrel aging to sweeten and mellow the Gin.  Either way you can't go wrong.

Wouldn't it be lovely to be sitting outside on a warm Tomtember evening enjoying a cocktail with Old Tom Gin?

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