Archive for the ‘What They Say’ Category

I Prefer to Go with a Smile on My Lips, Thank You

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

— and the taste of a good whisky as well.

Doctors offer new prohibitions on drinking for the older set. I’ve been exceeding these limits since before the researchers were born, thank you very much. What doesn’t surprise me is that the “risky” drinkers are the happy ones.

Making It Up As He Goes Along

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Mark Bittman, writing for the New York Times, asks:

Why not make cocktails from scratch, ignoring the names and acknowledging your preferences?

No doubt he was schooled by one of those forward-thinking history teachers who told him that it wasn’t necessary to learn dates or, heaven forbid, facts. If a London cabbie must memorize his A-Z before he’s allowed the run of the streets, shouldn’t a licensed mixologist be required to learn the proper proportions for a thousand or so of the most popular cocktails? Does this Bittman truly believe that bartending is less important than driving?

Segedin on the Martini

Monday, May 19th, 2008

The painter Leopold Segedin creates not only with the brush but also with the swizzle stick. An aficianado of the gin manhattan, he has taken the time to share with us the theory and practice of martinis. I was quite taken with this quote from Bunuel:

.…it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as St. Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen ‘like a ray of sunlight through a window – leaving it unbroken’.

He’ll Take Manhattans, Too

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Eric Felten has finally–or once again, I can’t say–gotten ’round to the Manhattan (“Democracy in a Glass,” The Wall Street Journal). As usual, he is quite informative and generally correct in his opinions. But while he does well to call for a better class of fruit (a Luxardo marasca cherry), I’ve never regretted the day when I began to tell the barman, “Hold the salad.”

Mr. Felten’s recipe is quite similar to my own:

2 oz rye whiskey or bourbon
¾ oz to 1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.

For further reading, may I direct you to my own essay, “The Manhattan.”

Kindred Spirits

Monday, September 17th, 2007

My pater sent me this article many months ago, but he lives in the Wild West, you know, and the ponies are not as express as they once were. Also, I am behind in my reading. But I was delighted to learn that I have a kindred spirit at the Grey Lady herself, the New York Times newspaper. His name is Eric Asimov, and as he and his colleagues conducted a spirited martini tasting, they vouchsafed philosophies near and dear to my own heart. To wit:

Before we discuss the findings, though, we need to clear up a little matter. It’s come to my attention that some people believe martinis are made with vodka. I hate to get snobbish about it, but a martini should be made with gin or it’s not a martini. Call it a vodkatini if you must, but not a martini. Gin and vodka have as much in common hierarchically as a president and a vice president. Vodka can fill in for gin from time to time and might even be given certain ceremonial duties of its own, but at important moments you need the real thing. Vodka generally makes a poor substitute for gin in a martini or any other gin cocktail.

Nothing snobbish about it, old man! Carry on:

Indeed, gin is more of a thinking person’s spirit. Vodka is neutral in aroma and flavor, which is also how gin begins life. But where vodka stays neutral, gin is infused with botanicals — a witch’s pantry of roots, berries, herbs, dried fruits and spices — dominated by the piney, breezy aroma of juniper berries. Other common botanicals include angelica, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, lemon peel, licorice, fennel and ginger. It is the closely guarded combination of botanicals that makes each gin distinctive.

A woman named Audrey Saunders refers quite rightly to the horrors of “a generation lobotomized by vodka.” And on proportion, they’re nearly on the mark:

A martini is also not a martini without vermouth. What is a cocktail but a blend of disparate elements into a harmonious new whole? We used Noilly Prat Original French Dry vermouth in a proportion of five parts gin to one part vermouth, perhaps a bit more gin than might have been ideal (try 4-to-1), but we wanted to make sure that the gin was featured prominently.

I’ll lay three-to-one that those who joke about “waving the bottle of vermouth at the gin” don’t know what they’re missing.

Their favorite gin? Why, it was Plymouth, followed by something called “Junipero,” followed by a bottle dear to my own heart, Cadenhead’s Old Raj.

As the weather turns, I’ll be turning more and more to the brown drinks, but a good martini can be enjoyed season-round.

A Tonic for Unsatisying Gin-and-Tonics

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Jason Wilson is a man after my own heart. I don’t normally care to dirty my hands in the kitchen, but perhaps it’s time for that to change. I had thought that drinking would be enow to while away my golden years, but likely I would enjoy making the drinks as well.

In verbis vini veritas?

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Actually, Mike Steinberger mounts a pretty spirited defense of the small people.