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, November 4, 2016

Protests and Waters


      I have been following the Standing Rock protests occurring in North Dakota with some interest, as well as a bit of cynical amusement.   On the one hand we have the protesters who are perhaps rightly concerned with the construction of an underground oil pipeline which could impact parts of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers as well as Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.  The potential for water contamination as well as the violation of "sacred" tribal land is a reasonable concern. The clash here of oil and water makes for a cheeky metaphor that I will resist at present. In any case, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the project and the Obama administration has been conspicuous by their silence on the matter.  Local law enforcement has been placed in the middle, trying to provide a civil environment for all, while the influx of activists from not only around the country, but actually worldwide have led to deteriorating living conditions with some devotees occupying(trespassing on) private land leading to confrontations with law enforcement.  The accusations fly back and forth as to who started what.  Many of the locals don't even want the protesters there- Indian or not. The situation is eerily similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I'm sure that there is some validity to their point. Yes, corporate greed does exist, but we also want independence from foreign energy and all the unseemly politics associated with it.  Lest we forget our recent history, it was the Oil Crisis of 1973 that spurned on the construction of the Alaskan Pipeline which was a much larger undertaking, and it produced work for thousands, boosting the economy and helping to ease the energy crunch.  The situation conveys to me the impression that protesting is a pastime for some individuals almost regardless of the inciting cause.  When sundry people are drawn from the far reaches of the globe as if attracted by some protesting pheromone for an oil pipeline in North Dakota you just have to wonder where their motivation comes from. Consider the politically correct crowd and their revisionist assault on poor old Huckleberry Finn.  I wonder how many have actually read the book?


   I am fully cognizant of the fact that I have no absolute proof of this, but I feel confident in saying that a significant portion of the people protesting at Standing Rock were similarly supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement, and have now moved on to Black Lives Matter, and moreover, are likely aligned with the misguided souls trying to remove the term "nigger" from the prose of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  In this classic of American literature, the storytelling mastery of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, brings to life early American culture in the South along the Mississippi River prior to the abolition of slavery. Throughout the novel he explores the issues of religion, education and race relations in a quaint and folksy manner which belies the deeper allegorical narrative.  But, I think it is particularly his tack on friendship that allows Twain to reach the heart of the reader. Apparently, David Bradley from the University of Oregon agrees. 
"What do you think of Huckleberry Finn?" Pitts asked author David Bradley, who teaches at the University of Oregon
"It's a great book. It's one of the greatest books in American literature," Bradley replied.
He says the key to understanding Huckleberry Finn is through Twain's use of language, as the friendship between Huck and Jim unfolds.
"When Huck comes back to that raft, he says, 'They're after us.' He doesn't say, 'They're after you.' He says, 'They're after us.' And that's the moment when it becomes about the American dilemma, it becomes about, 'Are we gonna get along?'" Bradley said.
      Although the book was written after the abolition of slavery, Clemens chose to place the novel during the period of slavery.  I think this was decidedly not accidental.  Clemens uses the term "nigger" 219 times in the book.  If anything, he draws attention to the issue and we are wrong to ignore it or sweep it under the rug.  I think he chose to incite discussion on this topic and his views are obvious to all who read the book. Nigger Jim (actually appearing that way just once) is simply one of the dearest, most moral and noble characters in the book.  He is both friend and father to Huck and frequently vents his sorrow at being separated from his own family. There is not a single derogatory remark implicit or explicit that is related to Huck's friend Jim.  He stands in complete contrast to Huck's biologic father, "Pap" who could only be described in today's lingo as "white trailer trash".   I think the only cogent argument that the "protesters" have is with today's use of the term.  But really, that simply isn't relevant.  The pages of history are strewn with examples of changes in word usage. That is just the nature of the beast we call language. From Beowulf to Chaucer to Shakespeare to literature today, the English language has changed, we just don't discard words because they attain a different usage.  It is important and necessary to put things into the context of the time they were written and the intention of the author. Taken in that light, a reasonable, intelligent reader open to growth and understanding would not find anything demeaning about the use of "nigger" in the novel and indeed find the point of discussion as the learning opportunity that Clemens intended it to be.  Any other reading of the book could only be construed as overly simplistic.


       With all the new Gins coming to market today, each one must seek to carve out a niche for itself by varying the composition of the basic ingredients-distilled spirit, botanicals and water.  Most of the new generation Gins have sought to mellow the Juniper flavor with inventive uses of numerous botanicals...rose petal and cucumber for Hendricks, spruce tip and kumquat for Ironworks, etc.  Some use alternative base spirits, deviating from the neutral grain, utilizing cane sugar for some, grape or apple for others.  Cold River Gin, for instance, from the state of Maine is distilled from potatoes.   A few Gins, such as Martin Millers which utilizes Icelandic water, concentrate on the flavor imparted by the water used to cut the Gin to it's final proof. CapRock Gin tries it's hand with all of these.  The base spirit is created with a blend of Romanian winter wheat and Jonathon apples locally sourced.  The botanicals are listed as numbering 12, though only juniper, apple, roses, and lavender are mentioned.  The end product is cut to the final proof of 82 with naturally pure, soft water from the CapRock formation at 10,500ft on Grand Mesa, Colorado.  When all these facets come together, what is produced is a Gin with a wide and varied bouquet.  As is characteristic of a new balanced Gin, it has a very floral bouquet, with a bit of citrus and a hint of mint while juniper is more of a background flavor. It is sweet tasting with little or no burn going down as a result of the low proof and apple base.  It stands out in a summer drink such as the old standby Gin and Tonic.  The tonic serves to freshen up the flavors and the lime cuts into the sweetness.  On the rocks with a lemon twist is another option that highlights the attributes of CapRock Gin. As a Martini guy, I find that Gins which tend toward sweet such as CapRock and Dry Line for example, simply don't stand up so well in the classic pour.  The sweet and floral bouquet tends to clash with Vermouth.

Though some liquids may not mix well such as oil and water, 
Let us be thankful for the harmony of Gin and Vermouth.

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