Bar Review: The Ranch Restaurant, Anaheim, CA

The Ranch Martini

The Ranch in Anaheim is a relatively new and excellent restaurant.   Definitely worth a visit, if you can find it!  Not that the address is hard to find, you just don’t believe you’re there as you approach.  The restaurant is cleverly hidden in the first floor of a multistory working office building.  As you approach all you see is the plain, function, nondescript 6 story office.  But that’s the place!  Drive around off the entry road and you’ll see the doors to the facility.

Yes, ‘doors’, plural.  There are two sides to The Ranch experience; the Restaurant on the left and the Saloon on the right.   While I’m sure that the martinis are the same on both sides, I’m reviewing the restaurant’s bar and Martini.

But a quick comment on the Saloon side, for those interested.  It is built to resemble the inside of a barn and its just about as big as one.  There is a very long bar along one side of the Saloon and a secondary bar along a side wall.  Across from the main bar there is the stage where live bands play.  In between the bar and the stage, down two tiers of tables, is the dance floor.  It is large and almost always filled with dancers, either during the free dance lessons or during the shows.  Check their website below for current acts and times.

As for the restaurant, it is beautiful.  While not totally decorated with the Barn motif of the Saloon side it is still very much decorated as High End Country.  Very high end!   First let me get the food comments out of the way.  This place is fantastic; their steaks are incredible with a large set of choices.  The sides are outstanding and the service is impeccable.  Absolutely worth a special visit.

The Martinis were really very good.   The stems are kept in the refrigerator, which is always a selling point for me!   They were professionally and promptly prepared which also maintained the nice chill to the drink.  They were a just a tad on the small side and bit pricey.   But the latter was in keeping with overall ambiance of the restaurant.  The barkeep was professional,  helpful, and enthusiastic.

I say ‘were’ prepared because I had a second Martini and chose something different, the St. George Dry Rye.  Really different.  I’m still trying to decide if I liked it or not.  This Gin is powerful, really heavy flavored, with a bit of pepper accent to compliment the rye and, of course, juniper.  I had it as a Martini which I think is about the only way you could drink this, I have no idea what mixer, liquor, or garnish would go well with it.  Not everyone will like it, of course, but if you’re at all on the curious or adventurous side definitely try it.

The Ranch is absolutely worth a visit for the food, service, and the Martini.   The Martinis were really very very good, but not quite up to the ‘worth a trip just for the Martini’ level.    The Ranch gets a one stem:  Martini Glass Upright

The Ranch gets a “A-” for gin selection.  They have basics and a couple of more “unusual” gins.   Their choices are:  Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Tanqueray Ten, Hendrick’s, Beefeater, Nolets, Damrak Amsterdam, Right, and St. George Dry Rye.

I would also note that their selection of wines, whiskeys, whiskys, and cognacs are excellent!

Here’s their website if you’re interested in further information: www.theranch.com

*****   Rating Definitions   ****

 

Random Martini Quote for the Day

“Twas a woman who drove me to drink, and I never had the courtesy to thank her for it.”
W.C. Fields

 

For more fun Martini quotes check out the appropriately titled “Martini Quotes” page, or click the link: Martini Quotes.

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The Perfect Martini: Shaken or Stirred?

Shaken or Stirred?    Which is “Perfect”?

One of the eternal Martini questions!  Right up there with Dickens …. Olive or Twist?

I have written extensively in the past about Shaken vs. Stirred Martinis and thought a reminder might be appropriate for some of the newer readers, in case you missed it before.

There are four claimed differences between shaken and stirred martinis; temperature, dilution, “bruising”, and taste.  I’ve written extensively in the past on each of these and if you’re interested you can jump to the details via the links at the bottom of this article.

The bottom line is this:  The Shaken Martini will colder, more diluted, emulsified , and taste exactly the same.  Conversely the Stirred Martini will be less cold (hopefully not ‘warmer’), stronger, silky smooth, and taste exactly the same.

Notice that I’ve changed ‘bruising’ to ’emulsification’.  The term ‘bruising’ is really a misnomer and anyone using it should be ostracized immediately.  But shaking the drink does adds a zillion (roughly) little bubbles, also known to as emulsification.  This gives the drink a slightly cloudy appearance and changes the way it feels in your mouth.

So which is “Perfect”?   Read my Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Conclusion for all the intimate details and opinions.  (Disclaimer:  Its a tie.)

You can also jump to an overview of each of four elements at:
Temperature             Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Temperature
Dilution                       Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Dilution
Bruising                      Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Bruising
Taste                           Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste

 

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Random Martini Quote for the Day

“I’ve never tasted anything so cool and clean…They make me feel civilized,”   E. Hemingway in “A Farewell to Arms”

 

For more fun Martini quotes check out the appropriately titled “Martini Quotes” page, or 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.  😉

A Brief History of Martini

The history of the martini is a murky one.  As one might guess with many alcoholic concoctions through time, things weren’t always written down.  This appears to be the case with the Martini.

Still, the history of the martini can easily be traced back to the late nineteenth century, when it was first listed in bar-tending manuals.  For example, the Martinez cocktail is referenced in the 1887 Bartender manual by Jerry Thomas, of the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco.  The “Martinez” is also detailed in an 1884 cocktail book by O.H. Byron, as “a Manhattan in which gin is substituted for whiskey.”

There are also a few historical references points from which we can at least set some boundaries.  Gin itself goes back to the 17th Century Holland, though ‘modern’ Gin started a bit later.  Gordon’s produced its first version of London Dry Gin in 1769 and Beefeater came along in 1862.  An Italian vermouth maker, Martini & Rossi, started marketing its product under the brand name Martini in 1863.

Still the exact location and date of the invention of the “Martini” is a bit confusing.  There appear to be 3 1/2 main conflicting story lines.  The first, and the half, is that the Martini originated in California.  The second that it originated in New York.  And finally that it was a marketing ploy.

The town of Martinez, CA, advertises itself as the birthplace of the Martini so we’ll start there.  It suggests that the drink in fact originated in a prominent bar in Martinez, where it was known as a “Martinez Special.” There it was served to a celebrating gold miner on his way to San Francisco, who, after enjoying the drink so much, delivered the recipe to San Francisco when he had to instruct a local bartender on how to make it.  That bartender is allegedly the “Professor” Jerry Thomas.

During the late 19th century Thomas was renowned around the US for his innovative bar-tending work, flashy techniques, and man-about-town demeanor.  He claims to have invented the cocktail himself while at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco.  He contended that it was for a gold minor on his way across the bay to Martinez and beyond to the California gold fields.  Thomas therefore named it in honor of this traveler.

Whichever of these may be true, or not, none-the-less Thomas is noteworthy for publishing the first seminal cocktail manual, The Bar-Tenders Guide. The aforementioned 1887 edition included the Martinez cocktail.  The recipe was:  a dash of bitters, two dashes of maraschino (a cherry liquor), a wineglass of vermouth (most likely sweet vermouth), a pony of Old Tom gin (a sweetened gin) and a quarter slice of lemon!

However that is nowhere near today’s gin and vermouth definition of a Martini.  So does that count as the invention of THE Martini?  Or just a predecessor?

Another interesting note about the California stories is the reference to the gold miner.  The California gold rush started in 1848 with the first ‘rush’ of incoming minors in 1849.  Hence the name ’49ers’ for the San Francisco American Football team.  The Gold Rush peaked in the early 1850s and was pretty much done by the late 1850s.  If these stories are to be believed that puts the date of invention firmly in the 1850-55 range.

Another theory promoted by some cocktail historians is that the Martini first appeared at the New York City’s Knickerbocker Hotel.  This hotel was, in the early 20th century, manned by bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia.  He claimed to invent the drink before World War I.   The story goes, he served a drink, a favorite of John D. Rockefeller, that blended London dry gin, Noilly Prat Vermouth, and orange bitters.

This is certainly a more Martini-like concoction and its likely, though  impossible to verify, that he named it after himself.  Its also very possible that di Arma di Taggia knew of the Martinez of California, perhaps from some returning Gold Miner?  Or even had acquired a copy of Thomas’ Bartender manual.   So its quite possible that both the West Coast and East Coast theories are, in fact, part of the natural evolution of the Martini.

Finally, some believe that the martini was named after the Martini and Rossi vermouth.  This seems to be an obvious source – customers ordering a gin and vermouth concoction at a bar would simply ask for a “gin and Martini.”   Given how simply drinks were labelled in the 19th centuries, it’s plausible that this got shortened over time to ‘Martini’.  Martini & Rossi, as part of their branding or marketing, would certainly have encouraged this transition.  This would be true even if the company didn’t invent the “Gin & Martini”.

Ultimately no one will know for certain who, when, or where the Martini came to be.  Personally I adhere to the gradual evolution idea.  Somewhere in California a Martinez was created.  Over time the drink evolved to the Martini, likely with a New York push which added a modern ‘cosmopolitan’ flair and aura.  And mostly certainly encouraged by Martini and Rossi.