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, August 28, 2017

The Martini and World Dominence


      If ever there existed a cocktail that could dominate the world, then that cocktail could only be the Martini. That statement may seem a bit outlandish, but like most things in life, there is always a little bit of truth mixed in with even the most untruthful of things.  I have always considered the Martini to be somewhat of a game changer, but until recently I was unaware of the connection between the Martini and the Atomic age. The Martini has been identified with numerous world figures, politicians, actors, authors and the like, but I had never really associated my favorite drink with the scientific community.   But, it seems J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Father of the Atomic Age whose unwavering leadership led the Manhattan Project, had an affinity for the Martini just as those Uranium atoms had an affinity for holding together.  His steadfast determination turned Einstein's theoretical equation, E=MC2 into a brutal reality.  His statement below sums up the feelings of those in the bunker after the first atomic detonation.

-We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another.
                                           -J Robert Oppenheimer

It has been said that he lived on Martinis and cigarettes as the toll of the project bore down upon his soul.  The Father of the Atomic Age crafted his Martini with Gin(of course), a splash of vermouth, lime, and a touch of honey.  And so it was the iconic Martini that helped fuel the genius of Oppenheimer, propelling the US and the world into the Atomic age and changing the face of the world political hierarchy.  No other cocktail can claim such a distinction.


      Kurt Vonnegut was a humanist, non religious in the traditional sense, and decidedly anti-war.  While serving during World War II, he was captured and detained as a prisoner of war.  He was held in an abattoir in Dresden, Germany and that experience provided the background and inspiration for his seminal novel, Slaughterhouse Five.  As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the travels of Billy Pilgrim through both time and space in that novel, the story line of Cat's Cradle is a bit more apropos to this blog.  The novel is the story of the narrator who is attempting to catalog the experiences of the person, and the people around him, who created the atomic bomb and what they were doing on the day of the bombing of Hiroshima.  The scientist in question was trying to play the children's string game of cat's cradle with his son, and thus the title for the novel.

-No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat's cradle is nothing but a bunch of X's between somebody's hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X's….[And] No damn cat, and no damn cradle.

Vonnegut uses this simple children's game to symbolize the dichotomy of truth and lies and how one's perspective is all that separates one from the other, whether it be the differing perspectives of father and son, or the larger views of a government and its people.  So too does the harnessing of the atom's power open the door to the possibility of a nearly limitless power supply or conversely, the proverbial Pandora's box to the world's destruction.  In a lot of ways, cat's cradle is a bit like life.  The more you play the game, I find that you either repeat the same patterns or get hopelessly muddled in a string of deceptions.  

The Atomic

            In addition to this potential for limitless power or destruction, the Atomic Age was also responsible for the creation of two cocktails, the Oppenheimer Martini and the Atomic Cocktail.  A creation of the Washington Press Club, the Atomic Cocktail was crafted in celebration of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima.  The ingredients included Gin, Pernod, and vermouth and was offed up at the club for a mere 60 cents.  Those were the days!  The USA just exerted itself as a world superpower and a sense of optimism pervaded the country.  The person responsible for this had spent at least some of his time working with the scant supplies in the desert lab at Los Alamos to craft his Martini with Gin(of course), a splash of vermouth, lime, and a touch of honey.  Here's the recipe:

The Oppenheimer Martini

4 oz. Gin                                                  Stir the Gin and vermouth with ice until chilled.
Smidgen of Dry Vermouth                       Strain into a chilled Martini glass whose rim has
Lime Juice                                               been dipped in equal parts lime and honey.             Honey

Offer a toast as Oppenheimer did-
"To the confusion of our enemies!"

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chance and Circumstance


      Following the US Presidential election of 2016, the Wall Street bulls began a stampede through the stock market at a pace sufficient to instill a feeling of hope and usher in a promise of wealth and prosperity.  One can only hope that the streak continues on, though one can never know with certainty whether the bull market will continue, or for how long.  A point of discussion brought up recently amongst some friends was whether investing in the stock market was a balanced, thoughtful endeavor, or rather, was it akin to gambling at the casino, no different than plucking a chip down on the roulette wheel in Las Vegas. Initially, I scoffed at such a comparison- for after all, this is investing, full of metrics, research, asset allocation, etc.  I considered the factors that I bring to bear upon the decision of buying and selling of securities and how regimented it all seems.  But then again, there are countless gambling stratagems as well.  In reality, the bears and bulls of the stock market are driven by human nature and boil down to the simple human emotions of fear, greed, and hope.  In that sense, it is exactly like gambling, a game of chance.


      The Bridge of San Luis Rey, a novel written by Thornton Wilder and published in 1927 opens with Brother Juniper witnessing, by chance, the collapse of this famous bridge as five travelers were making the crossing.  Chance or providence?  I think we struggle with this question on a continual basis-whether occurrences in one's life are random events or the omnipresent hand of God at work. This was the central question posed by Brother Juniper in the novel.  Was it happenstance that that ancient bridge snapped at that particular time and hurtled those 5 particular people to their death or were larger forces at work.  Poor Brother Juniper was, unfortunately, burned at the stake for posing that simple but heretical question. 

      Another theme developed in the novel  is the role of fate and love in one's life and is summed up in the very end of the book stating that surely the individual will pass on from this life, but there is a bridge from this life to that and the bridge is love.

“We ourselves shall be loved for awhile and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them. Even memory is not necessary for love. There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

So while the stock market swings to and fro ruled by fear, hope, and greed, it was Thornton Wilder who interjected into the mix the strongest of human emotions- love.

Junipero Gin

      -"Providing The Bridge Between Discerning Buyers And The World's Most Unique Spirits" -With this statement from the Anchor Distilling Company and a name bringing to mind Brother Juniper, how could I not review this Gin?  First impression is BOLD.  This is an unabashed juniper forward London Dry Gin done right.  The botanicals are classic and 12 in number: juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, dried lemon peel, sweet orange peel, seville orange peel, cubeb, cassia bark, cardamom, anise seed, and grains of paradise.  To the tasting, the flavor is, as I said juniper forward up front which then blends into a distinct peppery spice. Nice citrus notes seem to weave their way throughout.  Although bottled at 98.6 proof (San Francisco strength), it is very drinkable undoubtedly due to the expert melding of the botanical flavors.  I highly recommend this Gin without caveats, it makes a sublime classic Martini. 

I would have liked to have handed Brother Juniper 

a Martini poured with Junipero Gin, but at 98.6 proof, 
it would have burst into flames right along with him.