World Gin Day 2018

Happy World Gin Day 2018!

 

 

“I’ve tried Buddhism, Scientology, Numerology, Transcendental Meditation, Qabbala, t’ai chi, feng shui and Deepak Chopra but I find straight gin works best.”
Phyllis Diller

 

I hope you all celebrate with a Martini. But if not, then a Gin & Tonic will do. Whichever you choose, enjoy safely.

 

“There is something about a martini, Ere the dining and dancing begin, And to tell you the truth, It is not the vermouth- I think that perhaps it’s the gin.”
Ogden Nash

 

 

 

Bar Review: Wreckless, Fullerton, CA

Newly opened in early Dec 2017, Wreckless is a wonderful addition to the bustling downtown Fullerton restaurant scene.  It may quite simply be the best restaurant in the area.

As you walk in, your first overall impressions would be ‘Gastro-pub’.  You would be wrong.   It is far more that that.

The place is clean, casual, and spacious with copper lamps above the bar, chandeliers in the dining room, large stuffed arm chairs in the lounge area, exposed brick walls, and excellent art work on those walls.  It is very comfortable yet quietly elegant; absolutely not a shorts, flip-flop and t-shirt establishment.

Though the menu is somewhat limited, it is upscale, creative, imaginative, and by all accounts absolutely delicious.  The Owner / Chef has created something quite special here.   Dinner examples over the last few months have included; Charcuterie options, Escargot, Duck Breast, Foie Dumplings, Soft Shell Crab, Tri-tip (I can personally vouch that this is awesome), dry aged Rib Eye, Venison Rack, Lamb T-bone, and a Bison New York Steak.  The menu changes regularly so take my list as an example of the Chef’s capabilities and possibilities.  (Check their web site for the current menu.)

This is not a Gastropub by any stretch of the imagination.

 

 

But this is a Martini blog and as much as I may like the food (I do!), I’m here to review the Martinis.  The bar itself is impressively configured of dark wood and displays a very nice assortment of whiskeys, many tequilas, and quite a few vodkas. Of course there is also an assortment of Gins, as I describe at the bottom of this post.

There is a also a (to me) fascinating, and relatively rare, ice rail at the back edge of bar.  I’m not sure how effective that would be for a Martini, but certainly would help keep a beer or glass of water chilled.  Besides, it looks really cool.  There are only two TVs over the bar so it will not in any way be confused with a sports bar.  Which is just perfect for me.

 

 

 

The Martinis themselves, simply put, match the food: delicious.  They are ample, cold, and shaken vigorously then poured promptly into a refrigerated pre-chilled glass.  As there is an abundance of gins from which to choose you can freely and happily experiment with many different flavors.

The bartenders have all been excellent; professional, helpful, patient, and attentive without being overbearing.  And they have been endlessly tolerant of my as I ask about the various gins.

My only nit with the Martini is that it was served in Champagne goblet.  Those that are regular readers of this blog know that I’m a bit of a stem snob and prefer my Martinis in a Martini stem.   But that is a very minor observation.

 

Wreckless has also sporadically scheduled live music in the evenings.  On a recent Thursday it was a jazzy, folksy, a bit of bossa nova duo – a guitar and vocalist.  They claim to mix up their music on a weekly basis, so check their web-site for the schedule of entertainers, if any.

 

Overall Wreckless gets one stem.  
As I mentioned above, their Martinis are good!   Certainly not exceptional enough to my two stem award.  However, the food certainly makes it worth a visit or two.  Or three?

 

For selection Wreckless gets a A.
Their list of Gins on my latest visit includes Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Hendricks, Ford’s, Junipero, Botanist, Death’s Door, Bluecoat, Nolet’s, Ransom, Aviation, Uncle Val’s Peppered, Plymouth, Beefeater 24, and Bols Genever. These may change in time, of course.

 

For those inclined to visit their website:  https://www.wreckless.us/

 

 

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe.  If not, please post a comment telling us how and why you disagree.

 

If you’re curious about what one vs. two stems means,
I refer you to the following:
*****   Rating Definitions   ****

 

Homemade Gin; Round 4

Homemade Gin, round 4!

 

This batch builds very slightly on the recipe of round 3, adding a touch more juniper, a bit more peppercorn, and a bit more citrus;  this time California Lemon.

 

I’d like to thank my son and his girlfriend for the very neat small bottles for gin making.  They were a Christmas gift and work very well.  The only minor issue is they don’t hold quite 375 ml of liquid.  Therefore this batch is actually about 340 ml.

 

Here’s the ingredients and weights and times for this batch:
Day 0:
Juniper, 10gm (about 5 teaspoons)
Coriander, 2gm (about 1 teaspoon)
Cardamon, 2 Pods broken
Green peppercorn, 4 corns
All of these items I put into 340 ml of 100 proof Vodka.
None of these were ground up, and only the cardamon was broken up.

             

Prior to adding Vodka and just after.  Notice that most of the botanicals float.

 

+30 hours:  I added the following.
California Lemon Peel,  6 gms (not quite 1 tablespoon)

I also tried the gin, just to see how it was going and it was quite good, spicy, junipery, but with just a hint of bitterness.

 

You can see that some of the botanicals float and some sink.  The white material at the bottom is the Lemon Peel.

 

+42 hours:   I strained all remains and remnants from the liquid.

At this point the gin definitely tasted like gin should.   Lots of juniper, slight pepper, and a bit of earthiness.  The previous slight bitterness seemed absent, or at least unnoticeable.

 

The final product; well after a few samples of course.  After sitting for another couple of days the flavors seemed to smooth out just a bit and was very drinkable.  Again, I haven’t bothered with activated carbon filtering, so the gin is a natural amber color.

 

Next time I think I’ll go up to 500ml, adjusting the botanical by the same scale and see if increasing the total volume and botanicals is a linear relationship.  When I do, I’ll certainly let you know how it goes.

 

Previous posts on this theme can be found here:   “I made Gin!!”, “Homemade Gin, Round 2”, and “Homemade Gin, Round 3”.

 

 

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Bar Review: Manhattan Steak and Seafood: Updated

I am very sad to let you know that the Manhattan Steak & Seafood is no longer in business.

 

 

Manhattan closed some time ago and I had been hoping that a new owner would appear and re-open this fine local steakhouse.  Unfortunately that has not happened.  I believe his hidden gem suffered form severe lack of exposure coupled with a rather odd location.

In the first case the owners, in my opinion, never adequately advertised this wonderful comfortable restaurant.  Given it’s proximity to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), I would have thought there would be a continuous stream of medical professionals stopping by for lunch and after work refreshments.  But apparently the management there did not pursue this obvious opportunity.

The second failing was not really the owners fault.  While easy to get to and with ample parking, Manhattan Steak & Seafood is located on a rather pedestrian and uninspired main street surrounded by a seemingly never ending collection of small strip malls.

I will miss the Manhattan Steak & Seafood.

 

 

Below is my original comments for reference:

 

One of my favorite local places to have a drink is Manhattan Steak and Seafood.  Located in a rather obscure part of the city of Orange, in Orange Co., CA, it is a great hidden gem well off the beaten path.  The food is excellent, the staff is awesome, and the ambiance is comfortable and classy.

But this is a Martini Blog.  In short the Martinis are really quite good.  But just not quite great.  On the plus side the drinks are generous and nicely mixed.  And always served with a smile.  On the down side the drinks are not as chilled as I would like, probably because the stems are not pre-frozen.  Or even chilled in the refrigerator.

So Manhattan gets a single Martini.  Martini Glass Upright

However, the restaurant is definitely worth going a bit our of your way to find.  http://www.manhattanoc.com/

Bar Review: Orange Hill Restaurant, Orange, CA

Opening in 1958, Orange Hill Restaurant is a bit off the beaten track in the residential city of Orange, in the county of Orange, California.  There is nothing exceptionally noteworthy about the restaurant, certainly not a Michelin starred restaurant; it is not world renown, or even nationally renown, for it’s food.

But, OMG, the view!!!!

Located up a hill in the middle of Orange County with an outside patio that stretches 180 degrees around the facility, the view stretches from the north west to the south east and on a clear day you can see the Los Angeles skyline, south through Long Beach, and down to Newport Beach and Irvine.

But back to the restaurant: my Michelin comments above notwithstanding, the food is really good.  Their tag line is “Prime Steaks and Primo Views” which is absolutely apt.  But their selection is more than just steak; their specialties on this day include Miso-marinated Chilean Sea Bass, Truffle Lobster Baked Mac & Cheese, Seared Ora King Salmon Cioppino, and others.  Their Entrees today include Chateaubriand for Two, House-Cut Kurobuta Pork Chop , USDA Prime Rib-eye Steak, and several other steak selections.  And of course the appropriate selection of accompanying sauces, sides, and enhancements.  While I haven’t yet sampled all of their selections, what I have sampled was excellent.

The staff was great, very helpful and attentive without being overbearing.  The decor was comfortable and clean, very basic modern American, and definitely not over crowded with close tables and tight walk spaced.  The restaurant and lounge both have an abundance of windows to enjoy the view but the outside patio I mentioned is a much better place to sit, relax, and eat.  There are plenty of heat lamps around for those chilly southern California evenings.

It is marvelous in it’s view and casual relaxed atmosphere with excellent food.  I will definitely go back.

As far as the Martini’s go, they do a fine job, nothing spectacular or otherwise noteworthy, but just fine.  My Martini was nicely shaken, adequately abundant, and served in a pre-chilled refrigerated stem.  And their selection of Gins is also fine, actually just a bit less than fine (see list below) considering their upscale efforts elsewhere.  They appear more interested in their wine selection; they are a 2011 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner.   And their selection of whiskeys is more than adequate with a very good Japanese selection.

Overall a very good restaurant that sadly seems to get lost in the abundance of very good restaurants in the Los Angeles / Orange County area.  Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

 

A couple words of advice.
First, get there early as there’s only one narrow winding road up the mountain and it gets backed up waiting for the valet.  There is no self parking.
Second, as with many restaurants with spectacular view, the food and drinks are a bit pricey; $16.oo for my Martini.

 

Overall Orange Hill gets one stem. 
As I mentioned above, their Martinis are fine.   Certainly not exceptional in anyway to earn my two stem award.  However, the food and view are truly worth a visit.

 

For Gin selection Orange Hill gets a C.
Their list of Gins includes Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Hendricks, Nolets, Botanist, Broker’s, and St. George Terrior.
These may change in time, of course.

 

If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe.  If not, please post a comment telling us how and why you disagree.

 

For those inclined to visit The Orange Hill website for additional information:
http://www.theorangehillrestaurant.com/

 

If you’re curious about what one vs. two stems means,
I refer you to the following:
*****   Rating Definitions   ****

3rd Anniversary!!

December 24th completes the third full year of exciting Martini and Gin making and overall Martini amusement.  It continues to be great fun writing and I hope you all enjoy my postings as much as I enjoy writing them.

I would like to take a moment and thank my readers.  Your comments and support have been very much appreciated and have helped keep me going on those occasions when I have been a bit less motivated to write.  I really couldn’t have done as much without you.  As always, I solicit your restaurant and Martini reviews, they are ALWAYS welcome here.  Especially Martini Reviews!

Looking back over the year, I have to admit that I seem to have been less prolific than I had hoped.  Especially with my goal of writing gin reviews.  On the other hand I have gone through three iterations of Gin making!  That has been a lot of fun.  Episode four of  my Gin making efforts is on it’s way very soon; coming soon to a blog near you.   (I Made Gin!!Homemade Gin, Round #2 , and Homemade Gin, Round 3  )

Going into the next year I hope to pick up the pace on Gin reviews.  And I do have a couple more Restaurant Reviews already in work and a few planned.   Please forward any restaurant suggestions and will do my very best to review them.

As I did last year, I would also like to take a moment to pat myself on the back …. the “Martini Quotes” page is, I believe, currently the best collection of Martini Quotes anywhere and seems to get the most ‘views’!   If you find a better one, please let me know and I’ll go steal everything I don’t have.   😉

There is also a Martini Jokes page which is constantly expanding.  But additions and suggestions are always welcome!

This blog has evolved over time and will continue to evolve.  But I do plan on keeping the posts at least remotely related to Martinis.   As the tag line says:

A blog for thoughts, ideas, comments, about the Perfect Martini:
How to make, how to enjoy, where to enjoy.

 

twitter If you also use twitter,  you can find more Martini mayhem, along with a myriad of other “finer things in life”, at

 

(If you previously read this and are wondering why you’re getting notification again, I’ve had a minor problem with my host.  In the process of updating my site I lost this post which originally was posted on December 23, 2017.  Which is also why I have changed the format of this blog.)

Random Martini Quote of the Day

A priest is sent to Alaska.  A bishop goes up to visit one year later.

The bishop asks, “How do you like it up here”?

The priest says, “If it wasn’t for my Rosary, and 2 martinis a day, I’d be lost.  Bishop, would you like a martini?” 

“Yes.”

“Rosary, get the bishop a martini!

Henny Youngman

 

Looking for more outstanding “Martini Quotes”?  I believe we have the best collection of Martini quotes anywhere!   If you haven’t checked it out recently you should, they’re always being updated!   Click the link: Martini Quotes.

There is also a page for Martini Jokes if you’re in the mood for something different.

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Martini Adornment, or Twist vs. Olive(s).

Charles Dickens walks into a bar and orders a martini.
The barman says, “Olive or Twist?”

Way back at the start of this blog I made a brief comment about Twist vs. Olive in a post entitled, appropriately enough, “Olives or Twist“.  It was one of my first posts and very short.  The time has come to elaborate a bit on this important question.

First of all let me point out that olives or twists are each more more than simply an ‘adornment’, despite the provocative title I’ve chosen above.  Either adds a bit of flavor nuance, aesthetic balance, and beauty to the Martini.  And in the case of the olive some additional texture.

I’ve previously pointed out that Vermouth turns chilled Gin into a Martini (Does Vermouth Matter? ). The twist or olive takes the Martini to the next level of elegance.

Reading through the (limited) literature there appears to be a friendly verbal war on this subject.  There are supports on both sides of the argument that adamantly defend their positions.  Olives are traditional cry the one side.  Twists are more elegant counter the other side.  Olives provide a hint of salt that brings out the flavors.  Twists add a bright festive color to the Martini.  Olives are a delicious and provide a small snack.  I have to agree with that last point.

If you haven’t already decided which is for you, try a Martini both ways.  Though not at the same time.   Ultimately the question of a twist or olive is one of personal taste, it’s up to you.

Personally I go with a twist; I prefer an herbal emphasis in my gin and the citrus seems to complement that better than olives.  If you prefer a more floral gin (Nolets) I think a twist would also better compliment that profile.

If your preference is a twist, there are several choices yet to be made.  Lemon or Lime?  Think or wide?  Curlicue, spiral, or bit of peel.

Lemon vs lime is also a matter of personal taste.  Lemon is traditional but I find the Lime to be just a bit less tart and a bit sweeter.  Also Lemons are ubiquitous, there is always a lemon or two at the bar.  Limes are more rare, which may be another reason why I like that option when available.

The ‘thin vs wide’ decision is typically not yours, unless you are making your own Martini at home or office. But when you’re ordering at a bar or lounge the barkeep will provide you with his or her standard offering.  You can ask for the twist to be created per your specifications and desires of course.  And, of course, your results with that request may vary.

The professional mixologist has a number of tools from which to create a twist.  First and most common is the knife.  But she could also use a vegetable peeler or channel knife, which may also be referred to as a Citrus Stripper.

Personally I like the channel knife.  It takes a bit of practice but will (eventually) produce beautiful long clean spirals of thin citrus peel.   With practice a sharp paring knife will also make nice clean spirals, though not as thin as with the channel knife.  If you are making your own twist do try and minimize any pith left after cutting it from the Lemon.

Let’s also take a look at what a twist is not.  It is not a wedge.  Yes, I have had my Martini served with a wedge of lemon thrown in as a ‘twist’.  That is clearly the work of a beer slinger and not a professional barkeep.  I did not order a second Martini and left that establishment asap.

Closely related is the “stripped wedge”.  This is when the bartender takes a pre-cut wedge from his collection and then rips the lemon meat out of the rind and then puts the remaining triangular piece of rind in the Martini.  This is not a proper twist.  While it  may sort of look like a twist I have two problems with it.  First, and most importantly, this stripped wedge will certainly have way too much pith which could add bitterness to the Martini.  Second, it’s just lazy.

(You can find additional Martini making annoyances at “Martini Making Pet Peeves“.)

If you chooses olives, then the first decision is how many?  One, Three, Two?  I read somewhere that, at least according to one ‘expert’, three olives is the proper number.  Furthermore you never serve a martini with two, or four, as this considered bad luck.

Personally I think that’s nonsense.  However, there is something aesthetically pleasing about a martini stem with an odd number of olives; one or three neatly skewered on a mini-scimitar laying alluringly in the Martini stem.  If you want more than 3 olives in your Martini, then go for it.  It’s almost lunch that way.  But serve them on the a side plate so as not to detract from the visual appeal of the Martini.

Another decision regarding olives it what type.  The traditional Martini olive is the large green Spanish olive stuffed with pimento.  Acceptable olive variations include olive size; large vs. colossal, Spanish vs Greek vs California , stuffed vs un-stuffed, or even un-pitted.

Another acceptable olive would be a pickled onion, which is really just a white olive that masquerades as an onion.  Technically that makes your cocktail a Gibson, not a Martini.  But I digress.

Unacceptable olive variations include black olives, grey olives, micro-olives (you’ve seen them) and olives stuffed with blue cheese, garlic, jalapeno, Gorgonzola, anchovies, wasabi, chicken gizzards, or anything other than pimento.  These are NOT to be used in a Martini.  Especially blue cheese!  Any cretin who puts blue cheese stuffed olives in a martini should be shot, hung, quartered, and shot again.  But hey, that’s just me.

Now if I could find Spanish olives stuffed with caviar, I might go for that.

 

The above Dickens joke, and so many more, can be found on the Martin Jokes page.

Homemade Gin, Round 3

Round 3 Homemade Gin!   And, yes, I am learning, albeit slowly.   This batch is significantly better than my two previous efforts!  (You can find my posts on those here:   “I made Gin!!”   and here:  “Homemade Gin, Round 2” .)

This time I backed up significantly, starting much simpler.  First of all I used just a very few botanicals.  Obviously Juniper is required so that goes in.  Coriander is very mild with a slight musty hay (think alfalfa) scent.  It doesn’t so much as add flavor as it seems to add some complexity to the flavor.  Then a very tiny bit of Cardamom, pepper, and lemon.

The second major change from previous batches was that I only steeped the botanicals for about 40 hours.  (I was going for 48 hours but sadly my real job got in the way and didn’t allow that.)

Here’s the process for this batch:
Day 0:  I assembled the following botanicals:
Juniper, 1 tablespoon
Coriander, 1 teaspoon
Cardamon, 1 Pod broken
Green peppercorn, 2 corns
All of these items I put into 375 ml of 100 proof Vodka.  Unlike previous batched I did not grind up any of these ingredients.

+24 hours:  I added the following.
Dried Lemon Peel,  Approx 1/2 tsp

I also tried the gin, just to see how it was going.  I was pleasantly surprised!  No bitterness at all and mild flavors.

+42 hours:   I strained all remains and remnants from the liquid.

At this point the Gin really tasted like ‘gin’!  A bit light on the juniper but overall mildly spicy with just a hint of lemon.  (Next time I’ll add a bit more citrus.)  As expected it is not clear having a nice mild amber tinge to the gin.  That’s easily fixable with an activated carbon filter (Brita, for example) but for the  moment I’m pleased with the gin ‘as is’.

Finally I let it sit for a couple of days in the pantry, just to let the flavors meld (?).   Then made a very cold, very welcome, Martini!  It was totally acceptable.  Certainly not worthy of even a single stem rating* of course, but a big step in the  right direction!

Keep your eyes out for the results of Batch 4 coming soon to a blog near you.

 

* If you’re curious about what one vs. two stems means,
I refer you to the following:
*****   Rating Definitions   ****

Random Martini Quote of the Day

“Have you seen the bologna that has the olives in it?  Who’s that for?  ‘I like my bologna like a martini.  With an olive.’  ‘I’ll have the bologna sandwich – dirty.’ ”
Jim Gaffigan

Looking for more outstanding “Martini Quotes”?  I believe we have the best collection of Martini quotes anywhere!   If you haven’t checked it out recently you should, they’re always being updated!   Click the link: Martini Quotes.

If you like these posts and want to be notified by email when they come in,
please subscribe to the blog…. over on the left column.     😉