Random Martini Quote of the Day

“I don’t get cast as the guy who steps off a yacht in a white linen suite with a Martini”.
Martin Freeman (aka Bilbo Baggins
)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!   Click the link: Martini Quotes.

If you’re looking for something a bit more humorous, check out a fine selections of Martin Jokes.

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Does Vermouth Matter?

Vermouth Ad 1

Of course it does.   Vermouth transforms chilled gin into a Martini!  Therefore it is indeed a magical liquid!

But what type of Vermouth?  Will just any do?  Is there a difference?

I’ve already written about the importance of keeping your chosen Vermouth chilled (Vermouth Storage?) and how much to add (How Dry Can You Go?).   This article discusses the impact of different Vermouths.

First of all lets get the sweet vs. dry Vermouth settled.  The original “traditional” martini calls for dry Vermouth.  All of my previous reviews and comments on Martinis have used dry Vermouth.  If you use sweet Vermouth then you’re making a ‘Sweet Martini’.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s your preference.

So, does it really matter which dry Vermouth?

I set up a little Martini taste test with a couple of popular and readily available Dry Vermouths:  Martini & Rossi (15% ABV), Noilly Prat (18% ABV), and Dolin (17.5% ABV).   The Martinis were prepared with New Amsterdam Gin.  This was chosen because it is pretty neutral with mild juniper and slightly on the sweet side. The proportions were 2 1/2 oz. Gin and 1/2 oz. Vermouth. For simplicity and consistency there was no garnish.

I then wrangled up a small team of amateur tasters to sample each of these Martinis.  I emphasize “Amateur”.  Initially some of the team were a bit dubious about the whole process, but eventually we all had a good time.  The team, self dubbed the “The Taste Buds“, tried each Vermouth in identical chilled Martinis and then by a few also tried the Vermouths neat at room temperature.

Martini Tasting Notes:
Dolin Noilly Prat Martini & Rossi
Color Clear Very pale yellow Almost clear, tinge of Yellow
W1 Sweet Sweet+ Sweet-, Tart, Earthy, Spicy
W2 Dry, Spicy (Ginger?) Spicy-, more Bold
C Fruity, Floral Dryer, less Fruity Citrus, Sweet
L “Meh”, Fruity, Tangy “Punched in Face” Smooth, Sweet
R Similar to “NP” Similar to “D” Harsher

Each taster offered honest comments as they saw fit.  Some were comparative, some were impressions, some tried to discern individual flavors or aromas.  There isn’t any consistency, nor should there be.  The bottom line is, by unanimous agreement, that the different Vermouths affected the taste of the Martinis.

I asked each ‘Taste Bud’ to choose a first and second favorite Vermouth with 2 points awarded to a first choice and 1 point awarded to the second choice.  The ‘winner’ was Dolin, Matini & Rossi came in 2nd, and NP finished last.  For what it’s worth, I was the only who liked the Noilly Prat the best!

Only Vermouth Tasting Notes (room temp):
Dolin:  Spicy Aroma, Floral, Sweet, Earthy Front End, Little Spicy, Little Earthy, No aftertaste
Noilly Prat: Musty Aroma (port?), Lots of Grape, Bold, Spicy, Earthy, Bitter Finish, Neutral
Martini & Rossi:  Musty Aroma, Bitter Grape, Earthy, Citrusy, “most like white wine”
I made no attempt to attribute these comments to the tasters.

As a side comment, I personally sampled these Vermouths well chilled.  The only difference I noted from the room temperature tastings were that the chilled samples were less pungent.  As expected.

Conclusions: 
First, each of the sample Vermouths were individually different.  More so than I expected.  While they are all fortified wines with definite grape flavor, the method of fortification varies as does the underlying wine base.

Second, while the Vermouths were indeed different, everyone agreed that their impact on the overall taste of the Martini was minimal.  Discernible, yes, but the biggest impact to the taste of the Martini is, as it should be, the Gin!

Third, while minimal, the review team were unanimous in the opinion that the choice of Vermouth does change the taste of the Martini.  So, YES, your choice of Vermouth does matter.

Final though: 
It is definitely worth exploring different Vermouths, especially if you have a favorite Gin.  You might just find one that perfectly compliments your chosen Gin.

Gin Review: Monkey 47

My first Gin Review!

And I think I’ve picked a excellent candidate for that honor:  Monkey 47.  I had been told to keep my eye out for this Gin and when I saw it I jumped at the opportunity to try it.  Now that I’ve tried it I think it just might be my new favorite Gin!

But before I jump into this Gin Review, I should let you all know that I experience this Gin in a very dry and very cold Martini.  So, fair warning, my Gin reviews will be in the context of Martini usage.  After all this blog is about the perfect Martini more than the perfect Gin.

However, if I can persuade the barkeep to let me sample a bit before I order the Martini, I’ll let you know how it tastes at room temperature.  Certainly so if I add a bottle to my own collection.

And now back to the Monkey 47!!

The bottom line is that Monkey 47 makes an excellent Martini.  There are a lot of flavors running around and it’s very hard to pin down exactly what is going on.

The first impression, the aroma that hits you before even taking a sip, is herbal.   Juniper is foremost, then bits of citrus and smooth subtle herbals.  Upon tasting you get some floral notes combined with citrus, some light spices, and more subtle juniper.

The finish is sweet and more fruity.  The juniper almost disappears at this point.

Furthermore, I’ve had a Monkey 47 Martini now several times and the flavor profile seems to change just a bit each time.

There are a couple of interesting items about this Gin.  First it’s German, from the Black Forest region, which of course is”Schwarzwald” in German.   Hence the tag line on the bottle “Schwarzwald Dry Gin”.   Second, it’s 94 Proof or 47% ABV.   Yet that is not the reason it’s called Monkey 47.  Or is it?  Finally this Gin is made from 47 different botanicals!  (See below for the list.)  Including some odd ones like cranberries and some local ones like lingonberries.

Finally, as I’ve purchased a bottle, I can also tell you that I’ve tried it neat.  That was also excellent.   The same flavors that you taste in the Martini are here, though more powerful as they aren’t diluted during the making of the Martini.  While I will continue to drink this Gin as a Martini, I would have no hesitation in ordering it neat if the desire or mood so moved me.

Typical Price:  $45 – $50 for 375 ml.

 

For those interested in this sort of information, I’ve copied down the major ingredients for your fun and amusement … 47 items in all.    Another interesting coincidence??
Acacia flowers, Acorus Calamus, almond, angelica root, bitter orange, blackberry, bramble leaves, cardamom, cassia, chamomile, cinnamon, lemon verbena, cloves, coriander, cranberries, cubeb, dog rose, elderflower, ginger, Grains of Paradise, hawthorn berries, hibiscus abelmoshus, hibiscus syriacus, honeysuckle, jasmine, Kaffir lime, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lemongrass, licorice, lingonberries, Mondara Didyma, nutmeg, orris, pepper (six types!), pimento, pomelo, rosehip, sage, sloe, spruce shoots, and of course Juniper berries!!!

You can compare this to a few other selected Gins in the “Botanical Elements of Gin” page of this blog if you’re so inclined.

National Martini Day!

June 19, 2017 is National Martini Day!!

Yes, another National Martini Day has come around.  Always a wonderful time to celebrate with a favorite Martini!

If you’re looking for the Perfect Martini recipe, you can find it here:  “The Perfect Martini Process”

For a laugh or two while enjoying your martini, check out our Martini Jokes page:  “Martini Jokes”

Homemade Gin, Round #2

My hopes of being the next gin magnate have crashed.  My first batch of gin was not very good, as I’ve documented in “I made Gin!!”  I had hopes that this second batch would be much better.  Not so.  But fear not, I will persevere and am already planning my next batch.

To give you the run down, here is my ingredient list for Batch 2:

Day 0:  I assembled the following botanicals.
15 gms Juniper, 1/2 of which I ground
4 gms Coriander, ground
1 Cardomon Pod, ground
1/5 Star Anise (one petal), ground
2 gms, Allspice, ground
6 green peppercorn, ground
4 pink peppercorn, ground
1 1/2 inch Cinnamon Stick
All of these items I put into 375 ml of 100 proof Vodka.

+48 hours:  I added the following.
Orange zest.  Approx 1 tsp
Lemon zest, dried.  Approx 1 tsp

Day 5: Tasting.
WOW!!  Way to intense and horribly bitter.  The details:
The aroma that hits you isn’t really too bad, though it is pretty intense.  Lots of herbal notes sliding to the spicy side and hints of Juniper.
The first taste is very intense, nothing subtle here.  Again very heavy on the spice and herbs, with emphasis on the Allspice, and a bitter unde-rnote.
The finish is very bitter!!  So much that it totally ruins any early favorable tastes.

On the positive side, the overwhelming Anise of the first batch has been reduced.  Now there is just a hint of anise.

Unfortunately whatever positive elements there were, although intense, were overwhelmed by bitterness.  In trying to explain this bitterness I believe I have two possible culprits.  First, I wonder if I have too much botanical input!  I may have left the botanicals in too long (5 days).  Next time I think I’ll sieve them on day 3 and see if that eases the botanical impact!  I’m also rethinking my decision to grind all the botanicals or how much I grind them.  Perhaps just a short pulse on the grinder to break up the big pieces?

Second, I may have been overly exuberant with the citrus zest.  I’ve been informed that just a few quick passes of the orange or lemon on the zester is all you need.  I zested pretty much the  entire orange and lemon!

Going forward I think I need to back up a bit and start more slowly and simply.  I started with a recipe that I found on line and I think it was too big a leap.  I’m even considering just starting with juniper and very little, if anything, else.  Maybe just a hint of pepper or Cinnamon.

An interesting note for future reference:  I started with 375ml of Vodka.  After sieving the botanical remnants from the Gin, I was left with approximately 240ml.  So between the residual moisture in the ground botanicals and coffee filter used for the sieve and were then discarded and I lost about a third of the liquid.  I don’t recall that from batch #1, but I didn’t think to measure then.  I’ll remember to note volume lost in the future.

Keep your eyes out for the results of Batch 3 coming soon to a blog near you.

Random Martini Quote of the Day

“I should learn to crochet something I’ll actually use … like a martini.”
Maxine (John Wagner)

 

 

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!   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.     😉

Bar Review: 71Above, Los Angeles, CA

At the top of the Los Angeles’ US Bank Tower (generally known as the “Library Tower” to locals) is 71Above.  A relatively new restaurant in a building with an interesting history.  Prior to 71Above’s opening in June, 2016, along with the “OUE Skyspace” observation deck on the 69th and 70th floor, this building had the somewhat dubious reputation (alleged) of being the tallest building in the US without an observation deck.

Thankfully when OUE purchased the building in 2014 they set about rectifying this omission.  Along with the observation deck came 71Above.  It’s interesting that the restaurant is actually above the observation deck.  At 950 feet above ground level, 71Above is now the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi.

So, let’s get the first questions out of the way.  Yes, the panoramic view is absolutely stunning; from Malibu to Santa Monica to LAX to Redondo Beach.  And the whole LA basing including Hollywood and Beverly Hills.  Without a doubt the most impressive view from a bar stool I’ve ever enjoyed.

           

In case you’re wondering if the brand new tallest building in LA will interfere with the view, it won’t!   You can see the Wilshire Grand Tower in the photo below, in the lower left corner.  It is below 71Above.   While the Wilshire Grand Tower is taller than the Library Tower the latter is situated further up Bunker Hill.  Thus the view is better from 71Above.

Second, the food is excellent, though a bit pricey.   But that is what I would expect.  The cuisine is ‘modern American’.   71Above offers a set menu with several first, second, and third choices.  Or you can choose from the “Bar Bites” in the Lounge.   Of course you can get the set menu in the Lounge if you choose.  There are Chef’s tables which offer views of the open kitchen and one large and two small dining rooms looking down upon Dodger Stadium, which require reservations!!  I haven’t seen these, but its a very tempting option.

The motif of the restaurant has been described at geometric-chic.  I think of it more as subdued art-deco.  In any case it is geometric, simple, and subtle without detracting from the view in any way.  71Above clearly understands that the view is the ultimate decoration and everything inside is simply secondary.

Finally, the Martini was excellent.   Very professionally prepared, quite cold, happily abundant, and delicious.  The bartenders are very professional and will ensure you’re satisfied with your drink.  My only beef with the drink, and I acknowledge that its a minor ‘nit’, was the stem.  My regular readers will know that I’m a bit of a stem snob and this Martini was not quite what what I consider a proper Martini Stem.  Despite that little oversight, the Martini was refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable.  As with the food, the drinks are a bit pricey, but not excessive.  Considering the view I think the prices are absolutely economical.

Overall 71Above gets one stem.  Martini Glass Upright
The Martinis really are quite excellent, they’re just not perfect enough to warrant my two stem award.  However, the overall atmosphere and experience are truly worth a visit.  A note of caution …. reservations are highly recommended!!!

For selection 71Above gets a A+.
Their listed Gins include Aviation, Bols Genever, Bols, Genevery Aged, Botanist, Bummer & Lazarus, Fords’s, Hendrick’s, Monkey 47, Old Raj Blue, Oxely, Plymouth, Spirit Works Barrel Aged, St. George Botanivore, St. George Dry Rye, St. George Dry Rye Reposado, Tanqueray 10, and Wilder.  Note I said ‘listed’ Gins.  They have others on the  self and the bartender noted that their selection varies from week to week.

For more information:   www.71above.com

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