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.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

From Plymouth to Plimoth; Mayflower, Meals, and Martinis

The Tradition

      Thanksgiving Daya holiday which I eagerly anticipate each and every year with optimism and anticipation, is almost upon us.  All too frequently, holidays are merely a day away from the daily grind of work, a day set aside to get a chore done that has been put on the back burner for a while, or some other mundane task to complete. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is truly something special.  I can think of nothing better than enjoying a Martini or two with family while showing off my limited but aspiring culinary skills.  It is a time when family comes together for reflection and to simply enjoy being family. I'm not sure if I can adequately express myself in this regard for different cultures and peoples may relate to each other in diverse ways, but the bond of blood runs deep in my veins, and while the traditions of eating, parades and football can sometimes overshadow the actual day, the performance of, and participation in, recurrent tasks has a tendency to ground oneself in one's beliefs, and in that sense, serve an important function.  And so, I give thanks for those things which I am blessed to have:
        Basic human necessities of food, clothing  and shelter
        Country which continues to provide individuals with a chance to succeed
        The Martini
I know that some of you may be surprised that I did not put the Martini first on the list, but for those that have read between the lines in my posts, you know that family is number one, not only the immediate family, but one's ancestral and cultural lines as well.  It is important to be rooted in this place we call Earth and have a sense of belonging to something, being from somewhere, a personal and cultural history of knowing from whence we came.

The History

        Perhaps one of the reasons that this is a favorite holiday of mine is that it is distinctly American and rooted in my childhood.  Growing up in New England, every fall bore witness to the endless line of school buses departing for the much anticipated school field trip to Plimoth Plantationthe historic re-creation of the original Pilgrim settlement.  I recently sought to relive that autumn rite by visiting there with my three sons under the guise of a Father/Son day.  A part of me was really wanting to relive a bit of my childhood while also taking in a beautiful fall day by the sea with my boys.  First stop was the re-created primitive English settlement with it's wooden cottages, gardens, storehouses, animal pens, fields and fortifications.  After a chat with the informative Pilgrims who happened to be living in the year 1624, we drove the 2.5 miles to the town of Plymouth to visit the Grist mill, which is still in operation today producing and supplying corn meal for local restaurants.  Across the street, one can meander through the cemetery to see the graves of the brave men and women dating back to the 1600's who helped establish a footing in this country.  Next, a stroll down Leyden street brought us to the waterfront to board the Mayflower II, a replica of the vessel that brought the Pilgrims to the New World.  The Pilgrims, having endured the arduous 66 day voyage across the Atlantic, anchored in Massachusetts Bay that first winter; 102 having made the crossing, one having died of illness along the way but one born to even the score so to speak.  The Pilgrims suffered through a cold and difficult winter, but then began their task of building a new nation which they could not foresee at the time.  In the fall of 1621, after a successful harvest, a 3 day feast was declared to celebrate. A group of 90 men from the local Wampanoag tribe led by their chief, Massasoit joined in the festivities, contributing 5 deer to the feast.  Along with the venison, there was abundant fowl, corn and cranberries.  This then became the basis for our tradition of Thanksgiving Day, which did not become an official US holiday placed on the fourth Thursday of November until 1941. 

The Meal

      I prefer to roast my Thanksgiving bird covered in bacon, outdoor on the grill imparting it with a smoky flavor. The other benefit of utilizing the grill is that it saves on indoor oven space needed for all the other vegetables, stuffing, roll, etc.  While the rest of the family is scurrying about in the house, I am allowed some quiet time away from the occasionally hectic crowd to reflect a little.  It is also the perfect time and place to enjoy my Thanksgiving Martini.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate this year but currently, a blustery, chilly, showery day is in the forecast.  In any event, meteorological or otherwise, imbibing a Martini outdoors on a November afternoon is choice, for the Martini remains naturally chilled while at the same time providing me with a little interior heat. I prefer to garnish my Martini with some fresh thyme- it goes nice with the Turkey.

The Gin

      Plymouth, England was the launching ground for the Royal British Navy in exporting the British Imperialism brand throughout the world.  As such, and knowing the close association twixt the Navy and Gin, it is no coincidence that Plymouth was home to several gin distilleries.  Today, only The Plymouth Distillery remains.  It is sited on what was once a monastery, home to a Dominican Order, built in 1431 which explains the robed figure on the back of the bottle of Plymouth Gin.  They capture the connection from old to new as stated on the bottle:
"Plymouth has always been synonymous with adventure and discovery. In fact it was the last port of call for the Pilgrim Fathers before their epic voyage to the New World. To celebrate their feat, we depict their ship, the Mayflower, on every one of our bottles."
Gin produced in Plymouth was given a special designation to separate itself from other Gins produced in England.  Whether this was due to any taste difference, or merely the result of local distilleries trying to gain a competitive business advantage for outfitting the Royal Navy, I do not know.  As a consequence however, Plymouth Gin is both a brand of Gin and also a designated style of Gin.  I think there are two characteristics which set this Gin apart- the first is the "mouth feel" which is decidedly polished and smooth.  I think it likely that the moderate alcohol proof of 82.4% along with the higher proportion of earthy botanicals relative to other Gin brands are responsible for the velvety feel.  The second feature of Plymouth Gin is the exceptionally long and smooth finish. I think taste-wise, it fittingly crosses that void between the Juniper forward London Dry gins of the Old World, and the more floral gins of the New.  Here then are the botanicals:

ORRIS ROOT- violet undertone, acts as a natural preservative and flavor binder
ANGELICA ROOT- dry finish and sweetness
GREEN CARDAMOM-highest percentage of botanicals in Plymouth Gin,  a bit of menthol
LEMON PEELS- citrus but with a little tartness
ORANGE PEELS- sweet and citrus blend
CORIANDER- earthy citrus and peppery flavor
JUNIPER BERRIES- well, it's Gin

What more fitting way could there be than to offer a Thanksgiving Day toast from the New World to the Old with a Martini made with Plymouth Gin?

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