I Made Gin!!

Yes, it is Gin.  No, it really wasn’t that great.  In fact it was pretty poor, barely drinkable.

But it was a lot of fun and I learned a quite a bit.   The most important thing I learned is that some botanicals are really powerful!   For example a little anise goes a long way.  A lot of anise is way too much.

No, I’m not distilling my own spirits.  In fact I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most states!  I’m creating gin by ‘infusion’.  The basic concept is pretty simple: Take a neutral spirit, typically vodka, and combine with the botanicals of your choice and let steep for 2-5 days.  Pretty simple really.


The only rule is that Gin must have Juniper, that’s what makes a spirit “Gin”.  If you’re wondering what other sorts of botanicals to use, google “Homemade Gin” and you’ll find quite a few recipes for guidance.   That’s how I started.   Also take a look at my “Botanical Elements of Gin” page to see what some commercial Gins use.

Here’s the process I used for this small, initial batch:

Day 0:  I assembled the following botanicals.
10 gms Juniper, 1/3 of which I ground
4 gms Coriander, ground
1 Cardomon Pod, ground
1 Star Anise, ground
2 gms, Allspice, ground
2 green peppercorn, ground
2 red peppercorn, ground
All of these items I put into 375 ml of 100 proof Vodka.

+24 hours:  I added the following.
Orange Peel dried, 6 inches thin
Lemon Peel dried, 6 inches thin

+72 hours:  First tasting!
First I sieved out the bits and pieces of the botanicals.  As expected the liquid was a nice caramel color. Then the first quick taste.  WOW, lots of Anise!!  Really a lot.   Reminiscent of Jagermeister, Ouzo, or Raki, but with out their subtlety and refinement.  There were also all the other flavors, but definitely in the background, except for a bit of bitterness that came through.  And overall it was a bit light on Juniper.

Day 5: Final tasting.
Still Lots of Anise!  Definitely too much.   Next time I’ll cut the Star Anise by 75%, at least!!  I might just skip it all together and focus on the more subtle flavors.

I should have added a photo of  this, but sometimes a picture isn’t really worth 1000 words.

For my next batch, and there will be another, I think I’ll use the following changes:
Cut, or eliminate, the Star Anise.
Use dried citrus zest instead of the dried thin citrus peels.
Just a couple more peppercorns to give it more pepper kick.
And more Juniper, probably bump it up by 50%.
Keep watching, I’ll let you know that turns out!

For my first effort I give my self one upside down Martini glass.   

 

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

 

 

The Perfect Gin Explained

I often get asked “What is the best gin?”

Apparently some people seem to think I should know.  I’m still researching that myself and until I try all the Gins I don’t think I can really give a valid assessment.   But it’s a valid question and deserves a little thought.   So I started with a bit of research on the internet (aka Google search) to see what other people were thinking.  Here are the “10 Best Gins” as determined by three different websites:

www.shortlist.com
1 Williams Chase
2 Martin Millers
3 Monkey 47
4 Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference Blackfriars Gin
5 Bloom
6 Beefeater 24
7 Hendrick’s
8 Hayman’s 1850 Reserve Gin
9 Tanqueray No. 10
10 Caorunn Gin

www.independent.co.uk
1 Tanqueray 10
2 Langley’s No. 8 Gin
3 Filliers Pine Tree Blossom Gin
4 Daffy’s Premium Gin
5 Brooklyn Gin
6 Gin No. 209
7 Blackwoods Gin
8 Jinzu Gin
9 Eden Mill Love
10 Gin Mare

www.gayot.com
Anchor Old Tom Gin
Aviation Gin
Barr Hill
Caorunn Gin
Genevieve
Monkey 47 Gin
Sipsmith VJOP
Botanist Islay Dry Gin
Uncle Val’s Restorative Gin
Watershed Four Peel Gin
…..(Gayot did not rank these, just listed them as top 10.)

Notice the consistency there?  Neither did I.  In these 3 different “Top 10 Gins” there are 27 different Gins.   But I didn’t stop there!  At the end of this post are two more “Top 10 Gins” lists for further amusement.   A total of 44 different gins in 5 top 10 lists.  There is NO single gin listed on more than two lists.

There are many familiar Gins on these lists and I have tried many, and clearly not all (yet), of them.   I really like Monkey 47 and that would be on my Top 10 list and it’s on two of the lists above.   Tanqueray No. 10 is also on two of these lists but that is not one I would put on my list.  Then there is Barr Hill which I personally think is terrible (the only flavor other than juniper is honey…. just too sweet for me).

It’s worth mentioning that these lists do not specify whether these are the best gins for Martinis, Gin & Tonics, Gimlets, Negronis, or neat!  That is important.  Personally I would not ever order Hendrick’s in a Martini but I would in a G&T.   Clearly different Gin flavor profiles will work differently in a G&T vs a Singapore Sling.

What can we conclude by this?  What is the “Perfect Gin”?  My best answer is, like the Perfect Martini, the Perfect Gin is that one which most appeals to you.  You’re really going to have to try them.   Perhaps many of them.

Let’s go back to the original question that I get: “What is the best gin?”  My first reply is:  “For a Martini?  Gin and Tonic?”   Then I follow up asking whether thy like their Gin on the citrus, floral, or herbal side?   If their eyes do not glaze over at this point then we can move on and really start a discussion of flavors, profiles, and cocktail options.

A couple of final comments.   I think it is noteworthy that these 5 top 10 lists are so different.  There has been an explosion of gins in the last few years!  New distilleries entering the market and old distilleries now adding Gins to their lines.  There are now barrel aged gins, small batch gins, and reserve gins.  It’s not surprising that different people(s) would rate the gins so differently.

Finally, the few gins that did appear twice in the lists are:  Caorunn, Gin Mare, Hendrick’s, Martin Millers, Monkey 47, and Tanqueray No. 10.  If you’re looking to start exploring Gins, I would suggest you start with these.

 

www.askmen.com
1 Hendrick’s
2 Anchor Distilling Company “Genevieve” Genever Style
3 G’Vine Nouaison Gin
4 Bombay Sapphire Gin
5 Leopold Bros. Small Batch American Gin
6 Blue Ribbon London Dry Gin
7 Plymouth Gin
8 Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin
9 Tanqueray Gin
10 Gordon’s London Dry Gin

www.standard.co.uk
1 No. 209 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Reserve Gin
2 Elephant Gin
3 Dictador Premium Columbian Aged Treasure Gin
4 Citadelle Gin
5 Cruxland Gin
6 Glendalough Gin
7 Rutte Celery Gin
8 Gin Mare
9 Blue Bottle Dry Gin
10 Hernӧ Blackcurrant Gin

Restaurant Review; Drago Ristorante, Los Angeles, CA

Lets see …. I’ve done reviews of Airport restaurants (P.F. Chang’s), restaurants on barques (Moshulu), and restaurants in casinos (Red Oak) and train stations (Traxx).  Steakhouses, Italian, Chinese, Seafood, and lounges that don’t even serve food.  So clearly I have no fear of venturing off the beaten path, so to speak.  What’s next?  How about a museum cafe?  That’s sound different, right?

The other weekend I found myself at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles where they had a Ferrari special going on.   No, not to buy, but to see.  Actually, it was the free “Enzo Ferrari Birthday Cruise-In” and it was indeed impressive.  Finishing an exhaustive review of these fine cars I went looking for some refreshment and a place to sit.

Having been through many museums in my life across several continents, I had in mind a crowded cafe with a long line of people waiting, tray in hand, to proceed through a serve yourself counter displaying the usual assortment of packaged sandwiches, sodas, fruit plates, quick (& queasy) deserts, and expensive beers or wines.  If I was lucky there might be a short order cook taking orders for burgers, dogs, and fries.   But I was parched and resigned to my fate.

But no!  Not here.   Here there is Drago Ristorante, a full on sit-down take-my-order restaurant.   The only semblance to my preconceived notions was a bit of a line at the hostess station.  I quickly bypassed that and headed directly to the bar.   Yes a real bar.   With real liquor, a nice selection of wine, and beer on tap.

The food that I tried was very good.  And there were items on the menu that I didn’t try that really caught my eye.  Such as “Gnocchi di Patate al Nero di Seppie” and “Spaghetti a I Frutti di Mare”, to give you a quick sampling.   I certainly look forward to trying additional items in the future.  And this really makes Drago a bit different, and special.

If I was in the neighborhood for any reason and was hungry and looking for a place to eat.   I would have no issue with heading over to the Petersen Museum just to eat at Drago.   Whether or not I was going to enter the Museum, which, by the way is truly impressive.

Finally, yes, the Martini was really very good!   Very much in keeping with the concept that this is a full on restaurant and not a inexpensive museum soda bar.  It was nicely mixed with the right amount of Vermouth for my ‘dry’ preference.  The stem was well chilled and the Martini well shaken.  The bartender was professional and courteous and the serving ample.

Overall Drago gets one stem.  Martini Glass Upright

I would make a trek to Drago for the food, ambiance, and Martini.  But not for the Martini alone.

Now for Gin Selection:  Sadly, Drago only gets a C-
Their selection includes Tanqueray, Tanqueray 10, Bombay Sapphire, and Beefeater.  That’s it.  At the moment.   In my conversations with the GM there I believe that this selection will expand in the future, I do hope so.   I’ll provide an updated review when, and if, I witness this improvement.

For more information:     www.dragoristorante.com

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   ****

The Perfect Martini Process, V2.0

martini-with-twist

I wrote The Perfect Martini Process, V1.0 back in November of 2015, though it didn’t have the “V1.0” notation back then.  Since then, I’ve been thinking that it really needed an update to make it more readable, logically organized, and visually appealing.

So I’ve created “V2.0”.   The information and process hasn’t significantly changed, but has been tweaked – just a bit.  So here we go!

TAPS Martini

Introduction:

Since this blog has existed, I’ve advocated and supported the concept that your Perfect Martini is just that, yours.  My Perfect Martini is mine.  And the two may not be identical.   What is important is that we find that which works for each of us.

Having said that, in fairness, I thought it time to share what I believe works best for me.  Interestingly over the course of the last years researching for this blog and writing about Martinis and Martini Preparation my taste has ‘evolved’.  My preference has moved a bit drier and I’m garnishing with a twist much more often.  Lime if available.

Note that the title of this post is Martini Process, not recipe.   The recipe is important, of course, and will be presented in it’s place.  But the components of the recipe can be thrown together in many ways, each of which may result in a different tasting experience.

The  components in a chocolate cake can be assembled and cooked in many ways but I strongly suspect that the results of many of those permutations would be far from palatable.    The process is critical.

Advanced Preparation:

The entire Martini Making process starts with advanced preparation. And by ‘advance’ I mean several hours ahead of time.   If you want that Martini immediately upon your arrival at home after a long day at the office, then this should be done in the morning before you leave.   Or, better yet, the night before.

Put your favorite bottle of Gin and your Martini stem in the freezer and the vermouth in the refrigerator, if it isn’t already.  Vermouth should always be stored in the fridge.  See Vermouth Storage? if you want to know more about that.

IF you use a massive (heavy) shaker, that should go in the freezer too.

You may have a collection of gins and can’t (or don’t want) to put all the bottles in the freezer.  What I do is transfer enough gin for a couple martinis from the lager bottles into smaller glass containers and put them in the freezer.   Properly marked, of course.  ( I buy smaller bottles of the same brand of gin for use in the freezer.  Sapphire goes in to Sapphire, Aviation into Aviation, etc. )

If you’re making Martinis for a group and you have lots of stems with little freezer space, at least make room for them in the fridge.

Immediate Pre-Processing:

Make the twist.
I always prepare the twist before the martini so that the martini doesn’t wait, and get warm, if the twist is crafted at the end of the process.  No, the twist will not wilt or dry out in the 90 seconds or so that it takes you to make the Martini!  It will be just fine waiting for its grand entry at the end of the process.

This goes for olives too, if you prefer them; spear them before starting the martini.

The Recipe:

3 ounces of your favorite Gin,
(That’s 6 tablespoons or 3/8 cup if you don’t have a jigger.)
1/2 ounce of Dry Vermouth, and
(Or fill the cap from the Vermouth bottle,)
a lemon or lime twist.

Final Processing:

Making the Martini proper.  Fill the shaker with about a cup of cold ice.   (See Cold Ice Please! for comments and description of “Cold Ice”).  Take the Vermouth and put that in the shaker with the cold ice.  Swirl or shake the Vermouth and ice briefly and then drain the Vermouth.  Keep the ice, of course.

Next put your Gin into the shaker.  Shake the shaker vigorously for about 10 seconds.   10 seconds is all you need as the liquids have already been chilled.  Any more than 10 seconds and your just working your biceps, triceps, and delts.

At this point I’m reminded of the following quote from ‘The Thin Man’:
“See, in mixing the important thing is the rhythm. Always have a rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan, you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time. But a Martini, you always shake to waltz time.”  Nick Charles

Does shaking to 3/4 time really help?  I have no clue, but it sure makes the process more fun.

Now, quickly remove the Martini stem from the freezer and strain the Martini from the shaker into the Stem.  Take the twist and lightly run the rind around the edge of the stem, squeeze a bit of the oils into the liquid, and drop it gently into the Martini.

That’s it, you’re done.  Now on to the best part.

Post-Processing:

Finally take the Martini out to the porch, sit comfortably, look at the sunset over the beach or the pool, and enjoy the Perfect Martini.

Enjoying a Martini at Sunset overlooking the ocean.

Summer Evening Martini

Random Martini Quote of the Day

“If it wasn’t for the olives in his martinis he’d starve to death.”
Milton Berle

Milton Berle

 

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.     😉

Random Martini Quote of the Day

Martini by the Fire
Martini by the Fire

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!
Anonymous

 

Those of you with good memory may wonder if this is a repeat.  It is, way back in June of 2015 this was the very first Random Martini Quote for the Day.  This is one of my very favorite Martini Quotes.

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.     😉

What Your Martini Says About You

Enjoying a Martini at Sunset overlooking the ocean.

A friend sent me the following link to “Wine Enthusiast” Magazine with the comment that they were not sure they agreed with the story’s conclusions.  And I would agree that I’m not sure I agreed either.

But it’s an interesting read and a short read.  I offer it up here to my readers so you may make your own judgement.

What Your Martini Says About You | Wine Enthusiast Magazine

 

I always welcome suggestions for stories or links to interesting “Martini” articles, so please don’t hesitate to contribute.

The Most Interesting Man in the World???

I don’t usually drink beer……

the-most-interesting-man-in-the-world

He once caught the Loch Ness Monster…with a cane pole, but threw it back

When I first heard the Dos Equis ad campaign with “The Most Interesting Man in the World” sometime around 2006 I was amazed.  I couldn’t stop laughing.  They were hilarious, outrageous, and preposterous.   The video commercials with their flashbacks were just as funny, flamboyant, and (almost) unbelievable.  The stunts were right at the far edge of ‘possible’.

His tears cure cancer, too bad he never cries.

The audio narration, either accompanying the videos or solo on the radio, was brilliant:  Creative, Imaginative, and Unbelievable!  But we all believed, or at least wanted to.  And we laughed uncontrollably.  When we heard a new line we couldn’t wait to get home and share it with family and friends.  And when it came on the radio or TV again we told everyone around to ‘be quiet and listen to this new line’.

He taught Chuck Norris martial arts

And that, I believe, is the first key to this phenomenon.   We wanted to believe everything about the MIMINTW.  Yes, it was all implausible, if not impossible.  But it sparked our imagination and our inner adventurer.  We thought or wished ‘if only’, I could do that!

His signature won a Pulitzer.

The second key to this campaign’s success was Jonathan Goldsmith, the REAL MIMINTW.  He looked and played the part perfectly.   He was sort of a mix of your rich, genial, great uncle, Ernest Hemingway, and a retired James Bond.  Young kids wanted to grow up to be him and us older folk wondered how we could catch up with his exploits.

Sharks have a week dedicated to him.

When he announced his impending one-way trip to Mars (i.e., retirement), I believed that the advertising campaign had reached a logical and honorable end.  And I was happy with that.  I didn’t feel any loss or sadness.  The end was natural and acceptable.

He once won the Tour-de-France, but was disqualified for riding a unicycle

Shows how much I know about advertising.  Apparently a 15% increase in sales was just too much incentive and now we have a new MIMINTW.   Except he’s NOT.

He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels

Maybe I’m a bit biased, or just pissed off that Dos Equis couldn’t just let this go gracefully, but this ad campaign sequel so far sucks.  I’m sure the actor (Augustin Legrand) is a fine person and, truth be told, if Dos Equis offered me the spot I’d jump on it without hesitation.  But 1) he doesn’t look the part and 2) the writing is just a pale imitation of the original.

He once parallel parked a freight train

I’m sorry, the new MIMINTW is just too young.  This character needs a certain ‘gravitas’ that comes from a life time of extraordinary achievements.   This new guy just doesn’t have it.  The beard is there, the weathered face, and a great voice.   But he needs a bit of grey and that look in his eyes that makes you believe you’re just getting the Reader’s Digest Abbreviated version of his life.  And that’s just not there, yet.

No less than 25 Mexican folk songs have been written about his beard

Finally, and most importantly, the new scripts are, IMHO, a bit lame.  Clearly the original writers have moved on to bigger and better things and that loss shows in the new commercials.  The new ads are indeed clever (Air-boat in the Sahara!).  But they don’t seem to have the almost impossible feel:
….. Air-boat in the Sahara?  Totally possible!!
….. Kicking a coconut?  Seems feasible, if painful.
….. Running through the streets of some Asian megalopolis with a piglet and a beautiful woman at your side?   Absolutely!  (Maybe not with the gun toting guy chasing me …. but maybe.)
….. Pulling a soccer ball out of a well?  Sure, I could do that tomorrow.

He is fluent in all languages, including three that he only speaks

And that’s the problem!  These feats need to be fanciful, fantastic, even fantasy!   On the boarder of impossible!   There should be nothing the MIMINTW does that leaves me with a shrug and the thought “Sure, I could do that tomorrow”.

When in Rome, they do as HE does

I do hope that Dos Equis improves their scripts and feats over the next few months.  I may never learn to accept the ‘new guy’ as the real MIMINTW but if Dos Equis gets back to the ‘implausible, nearly impossible’ lines it will at least be entertaining and funny.  Until that time its just NOT The Most Interesting Man in the World anymore but a pale imitator.

He has won the lifetime achievement award, twice.

….. but when I do, its a locally brewed craft beer.

For a few more quotes:
http://www.livin3.com/100-most-interesting-man-in-the-world-quotes

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year to one and all, especially my faithful subscribers.

If you celebrate New Year’s Eve with a Martini or two, Celebrate Safely!    Please don’t drink and drive.  Uber and Lyft will get you home safe.  Your family and friends will appreciate it!

2nd Anniversary!

This month, December 24th to be exact, completes the second full year of exciting Martini making and mayhem.  Its been a great fun writing and I hope to continue through my third year.

I want to take a moment and thank my faithful 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.

Looking back, I’d like to point out that my second year marked the first post written by a ‘guest’ author!  That is much appreciated and I hope to get a few more next year, hopefully by another guest author, or two.   Restaurant and Martini reviews are ALWAYS welcome here.  Especially Martini Reviews!

Going into the third year I plan on starting to review Gins.  This seems like a logical extension to Restaurant Reviews and general Martini musings.  Please forward any suggestions along this line and I’ll make a point of commenting on your suggestions.

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!   But if I’ve missed one, please let me know.  I also have a Martini Jokes page!  But it appears to be a bit weak at this time.   While I keep my eyes open to new, or at least uncollected, jokes your suggestions would be greatly welcomed.

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 For those of you who also frequent the ‘twitterverse’, you can find more Martini mayhem, along with a myriad of other “finer things in life”, at @Shkn_Nt_Strrd.   Comments there are always welcome also.

pinterest-logo-2    There is also a Pinterest page where you can find may of the photos that appear in these blogs: https://www.pinterest.com/PerfectMartini/martini-photos/

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.     😉