King George II Inn, Bristol, PA

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The King George II Inn is known to be the oldest continuously operated Inn in America!  Founded in 1681, it sits on the Delaware river in the quiet town of Bristol, PA.  The Inn no longer offers overnight accommodations but the restaurant and lounge are in full operation.  There are several dining rooms, some of which overlook the river and park just along the river, a historic tavern, and an outdoor riverfront patio for al fresco dining.

I’ve been to the King George many times over the years and it has always been a great experience.  The place exudes history, the food is consistently very good, the views from the upstairs dining room are beautiful, and the people have always been friendly and professional.

The tavern area doesn’t have the great river views, but it has a gorgeous huge mirrored bar which is almost as impressive.  There is lots of dark wood accents through out the room, and whole inn, to keep it warm and inviting.

Sadly my simple photos do not do it full justice.

king-george-ii-inn-b         king-george-ii-inn-c         king-george-ii-inn-a

The Martini?   They are pretty good.  They’re served in a rather massive stem, which is great for keeping the drink cold.  The stems are not pre-chilled in the refrigerator so it will only get cool from the ice and water applied prior to the barkeep mixing your Martini.  But the drink is very well shaken, ample, and ultimately was served nicely chilled.  (They also use ‘crooked’ stems and you all know my thoughts on that, but that’s a minor nit.)

Overall the King George II Inn’s Tavern feels like a perfect neighborhood watering hole.  Not a dive bar by any means but a very comfortable, clean, and classy place to hang out during the week watching the game du jour.

Overall I give the King George II Inn one stem.

Martini Glass Upright

As for selection, the King George II Inn gets a C-.   The gin choices are limited to only Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Hendricks, and Beefeater.  Hopefully they will expand their selection in the future.

For additional information on the Inn’s history or menus:  http://www.kginn.com

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The Perfect Martini Stem “Bowl” Shape!

Have you ever sat there with a Martini comfortably cradled in your hand and wonder what is the optimum bowl shape for a Martini?  Is it a very wide flaring bowl?  A very narrow tall bowl, almost a flute?

stem-wide                 or                         stem-tall

I’m not talking aesthetics here, that is an individual’s preference.  Some people like the crooked stem or the stem that connects at the top of the bowl, and some the bulbous stem.  (I’ve expressed my personal opinion on these in the past:  To Stem or Not to StemThoughts on Stemware, Part Three).  Others like colored glass stemware, especially in the base.

No, I’m thinking more from an engineering point of view.  Is there an optimum geometry to the fundamental inverted cone shape of a Martini stem?  What’s the optimum height?  Cross section?  And how is optimum defined?

stem-geometry      stem-equations

Alright, I’m sure most people never worry about such things.  I guess this is the curse of being an Engineer.  But there is one important consideration that came from my pondering.  From a strictly geometric point of view, what shape will keep my Martini coldest the longest?

The liquid enters the stem at a given temperature, hopefully very well chilled.  Then it gains heat through both the glass of the stem and the surface area of the liquid.  For the sake of my geometric analysis I made a couple of assumptions:
1.  The heat transfer rate is the same between the glass of the stem and the air above the liquid.  This is dependent on assumption 2.   (I am ignoring heat transfer from the drinker’s hands or the bar top through the stem.  I’m also ignoring radiated heat, such as from the lights.)
2.  Any heat transfer from the glass bowl to the liquid would be transferred via the glass from the air surrounding the bowl.   So, in essence all heat enters the Martini from the air, either directly from above or via the glass sides.   (It isn’t strictly true, but that’s another analysis for another day.)
3.  The optimum shape will be that which maximizes the ration of liquid volume (V) to surface area (SA).

Before I jumped into a bunch of algebra, I did a couple of mental experiments so I would know what to expect from the algebra, and if those answers made sense.   If I keep the radius constant and vary the height, how does the volume vary?  How does the surface area vary?  Contrarily, if I keep the height constant and varied the radius, what happens.  While that proved interesting, it really didn’t help  But if you want to see what came out of it, I’ve included a few observations at the very end of this post.

Clearly this was going to be a multi dimensional analysis.  In order to keep the algebra, and potentially calculus, manageable I made one more assumption:
4.  Set the Martini volume to 1.
(It could be anything, since I’m looking for the optimum cone, and cones are proportional, I can scale the volume after I find the best geometry.)

So what’s the answer?  42!  No wait, that’s something else.  The ‘right’ answer for a Martini stem is,  interestingly, 45 degrees.  Specifically, the cone half angle (α) should be 45 degrees.  The full angle is therefore 90 degrees.  To convert that to an appropriately sized stem, lets pick a reasonable bowl height, such as 2 inches.  Then r would also be 2 inches and the diameter of the bowl would be 4 inches.  So what does that geometry look like?  Something like this:

stem-shape-final

Well it turns out that “typical” martini stem we all know and love is actually pretty darn close to optimum shape.  Sure stems vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the traditional martini stem is very close to perfect!  Now I just wonder if the manufacturers really designed this for thermodynamic optimization?  Or because is just looks pretty?

 

 

Random thoughts:

If the radius is constant, then the maximum volume to surface area occurs with an infinitely tall Martini “column”.  Not a useful stem, though the Martini volume would be great.  The volume to surface area (V/SA) approaches 1/3 in the extreme.

If the height is constant, then the maximum volume to surface area occurs with an infinitely wide Martini ‘disk’.  Difficult to lift and unwieldy, but again a nice large Martini.   Here the volume to surface area (V/SA) approaches 1/6 in the extreme.

Random Martini Quote of the Day

Backyard Martinis

“There is no sugar in a martini; no egg whites, no black and white rums, no shaved almonds, no fruit juice, no chocolate, and no spices…. It is a clear, clean, cold, pure, honest drink …”
Donald G. Smith, Wall Street Journal

 

Another great quote that has previously appeared in this Blog.   I think this is especially true with the current trend (fad) of ‘candy’ martinis.  You can read my comments on the subject in previous posts.  Or you can click the following links ….

The Martini, Part Two
Egg Nog Martini??? Really?
St. Patrick’s Day next week!

The “Martini Quotes” page is, I believe, currently 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: Larsen’s Steakhouse, Valencia, CA

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Larsen’s Steakhouse in Valencia is a hidden jewel, well worth the effort to find it.

Because getting into Larson’s is not obvious.  It is located within the Westfield Valencia Town Center.  That is easy to find via the usual assortment of Android and iPhone apps.

As you approach the restaurant you will easily see the “Larsen’s Steakhouse” neon sign.  And you will immediately notice a brightly lit patio with heaters and an entrance doors just below and to the right of the Larsen’s sign.  You can see past the entrance inside to several TV monitors with the usual gamut of sports games on.  That is BJ’s Bar and Grill, that is NOT what you want.

So walk up to the Larsen’s neon sign and proceed left.   Just there is a nondescript door with very small lettering stating “Larsen’s Steakhouse” and the ‘LS’ logo above.  That’s the right spot.

The interior is clean, comfortable, and inviting.  There’s white walls with lots of dark wood accents, white table cloths.   The two times I’ve been there they had live music in the lounge playing.

The Martinis were excellent.  Nicely chilled stems, well prepared, and amble.  The barkeep asked if I wanted it stirred or shaken, offered several options for garnish, and allowed me to sample the gin before specifying my choice.

On that note, I sampled the Uncle Val’s!  Very very intense juniper with subtle accents of citrus and herbs.  But the juniper easily overpowered all flavors.  I had Val’s in my second Martini and it was good.  But I think that it is better suited for a G&T.

Larsen’s is the only Restaurant that I’ve visited recently that has Nolet’s Gold!  So if you’re looking to try this elite and highly rated and reviewed gin, here’s a great place for it.  While I would have loved to try Nolet’s Gold, it was just a bit outside my price comfort range.  But I’m saving my nickels for the right occasion.

Overall I give Larsen’s Steakhouse the coveted two Stems.  This is a place that I would definitely go for the Martini alone.

Martini Glass UprightMartini Glass Upright

For Gin selection, Larson’s gets an A.   Their selection includes:  Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Tanqueray Ten, Tanqueray Rangpur, Beefeater, Beefeater 24, Hendricks, Boodles, Caorunn, Uncle Val’s, Plymouth, St. George Botanivore, Nolet’s Silver, and Nolet’s Gold.

Random “Martini” Quote of the Day

brendan-behan

“I saw a notice that said ‘Drink Canada Dry’ and I’ve just started.”
Brendan Behan

Not really a “Martini” quote, but I found it amusing and wanted to share.

canada-dry

The “Martini Quotes” page is, I believe, currently 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.     😉

Restaurant Review: Kloof Street House, Cape Town, SA

Today I have something a little different for my followers!  A guest author!  I would really like to thank Delia for submitting the following Restaurant Review and would encourage anyone else who would like to submit a review; Restaurant, Martini, or Gin, or any other general comment.

Kloof Street House:

The ambiance of this gem of a restaurant is absolutely amazing. I was showed to a table in a nice corner outside by a waiter, who was friendly and smiling. Given it is winter, I was initially skeptical about getting a table outside. The table was enclosed by flowers and reeds on my right, with heaters and dim lights on the roof. This proved to be a great corner to relax after a long day of meetings.

The waiter offered me a drink as I waited for my guests. I opted for Sauvignon Blanc and I sat back and started to feel relaxed, sipping on the elegant and crisp white wine, enjoying the eclectic mix of patrons who were all clearly enamored and enjoying themselves.  The food was equally great, I opted for grilled salmon which was served with asparagus for my main meal.

On the second occasion, I was very keen to take my family who were visiting from England. Once again, we were greeted by charming hosts, and they did their best to accommodate us despite not having a reservation. I enjoyed sticky maple salmon, baked sweet potato and chipotle slaw, which was absolutely delicious. The steaks and hand cut fries were said to be fantastic!

Kloof Street House is a definite must do for those that are planning to visit Cape Town whether for business or pleasure.

If you’re interested in more details, their web site is:
http://www.kloofstreethouse.co.za/

Latest “Pet Peeve” of Martini Making

Pet Peeve

I recently had an odd experience that quickly escalated into a new “Pet Peeve”!

In case you missed it, I previously identified several “Pet Peeves”.  If you want a laugh you can look back at my previous post: Martini Making Pet Peeves.  If you want a teaser, one of my (minor) Martini Making Pet Peeves is not preparing the garnish first!

But back to my story.  I was at a local lounge on one of my travels and asked for a Martini while I sat comfortably watching some sporting event on the TV.  The Martini itself was good, if slightly small.  However the stem was excellently chilled from the bar refrigerator upon being served.

Having finished my first Martini I was easily convinced to have another.   The barkeep picked up my stem and I expected it to placed with the other dirty glassware.  But no, the barkeep took it over to the prep station and proceeded to use it for my next Martini!  I was instantly peeved.  Not only that, she used the same garnish!

What’s the point of placing your stems in a refrigerator and chilling them if you’re not going to use them?   Maybe you saved a couple of cents in electricity by not using a new chilled stem and not having to wash this one?

But the story goes on.  I had seen this happen just once or twice in the past and it immediately cuts my bar tip drastically.  But this time I was engrossed in the sports and didn’t want to leave the lounge.

So after finishing the second Martini, which was ok despite being served in the used and warm stem, I placed the stem on the bar back drop…. you know that small area behind the bartop which usually has a logo’d black plastic mat to contain splashed or spilled liquid.  (I’m sure there’s a name for it, I just don’t know what its called.)

When the bar keep came by I asked for another Martini.  She looked around a bit and spied my stem on the back drop.  Clearly off the bar top!  She picked it up and then proceeded to make my third Martin in the same stem.  With the same garnish!

Had I ever envisioned coming back to this place I would have said something to her or the manager.   Instead, she got a trivial tip for her efforts.  I do mean trivial!

 

 

 

Random Martini Quote of the Day

Ogden Nash

 

“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

 

Our  “Martini Quotes” page has been re-organized!  If you haven’t checked it out recently you should!   There are several new quotes for your amusement.  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

Whisky Glass

“Whisky, I find, helps clarity of thought. And reduces pain. It has the additional virtue of making you drunk or, if taken in sufficient quantity, very drunk.”
Julian Barnes

 

Yes, I know, its not a “Martini” quote, but I found it amusing and thought it worthy of publishing.  If you have any favorite Martini, or Whiskey, quotes you want added to my Quotes page, please let me know.

Our  “Martini Quotes” page has been re-organized!  If you haven’t checked it out recently you should!   There are several new quotes for your amusement.  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: Traxx, Los Angeles, CA

320px-Los_Angeles_Union_Station_Sign

On a recent visit to downtown Los Angeles I found my way into a little bar called Traxx and was pleasantly surprised with the service, decor, and most importantly, the Marini.

Traxx is located within the beautiful and historic Union Station in Los Angeles.  Yes, the Amtrak / Metro Rail / Metrolink station.  Not where one would expect to find a quality bar.  But indeed this small and obscure bar is quite an oasis within the mad hustle and bustle of rail passengers rushing to & from the tracks, buses, taxis, and ubers.

Now one has to be careful that you find the bar and not the Traxx Restaurant.  The two are operated as a common entity, but they are physically separate.  I understand that the restaurant is really quite fine and their drinks come from the separate bar.  Alternatively, food orders at the bar come from the Restaurant kitchen.   But I have never had the good fortune to be at Union Station when the restaurant is open so I can only speak to the Bar itself.

The bar is just to the right as you enter the Station’s main entrance.  There are no large signs or neon lights inviting you in so its easy to miss if you’re rushing in to catch a train or rushing out to catch a taxi.  But if you slow down you’ll find it.

Once the original Telephone Room for all of Union Station, it is a time machine to a lost era.  Decorated in  gorgeous art deco wood, terra cotta, and marble tiled floors that spill out onto the main ticket concourse.  This is the classic atmosphere that catered to Bogart & Bacall, a backdrop of the classic golden days of Hollywood.   You can almost feel the ghosts of yesterday brush against you today

As for the Martini itself, they were excellent.  The stems were well chilled, the Martini was well shaken, poured immediately, and ample sized.  The barkeep was professional, friendly, and quite helpful.

Overall I give Traxx one Stem.  The criteria for two stems has always been “Worth a trip just to try the Martini”.  I can’t quite say that I would go there ONLY for the Martini.  But I would definitely go there for the Martini and the ambiance.

Martini Glass Upright

For selection Traxx gets a A.  Their Gins during my visit included Plymouth, Botanist, Bluecoat, Aviation, Few, Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Bombay, Tanqueray, Hendricks, St. George Botanivore, St. George Terroir, and Monkey 47.

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*****   Rating Definitions   ****

More on Union Station:

Union Station is definitely worth a visit.  This opulent station was build in 1939 and combines Spanish Colonial, Art Deco, and Streamline Moderne Architecture that represent California’s heritage and future ambitions.

The lower parts of the interior walls are covered in travertine marble and the floor in the large rooms is terra cotta with a central strip of inlaid marble (including travertine, somewhat unusual in floors since it is soft). The ceiling in the waiting room has the appearance of wood, but is actually made of steel.

02-union-stationUnion-Station-LA-Waiting-Ro

It was built to consolidate rail services from the three main passenger railroads serving Los Angeles at that time (the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific).   Conceived on a grand scale, Union Station became known as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations” built in the United States and remains the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States.  It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

UP-Logo SP-Logo ATSF-Logo

Today, the station is the major transportation hub for Southern California, serving almost 110,000 passengers a day.   In addition to being the origin of Amtrak’s three long distance trains (the Coast Starlight to Seattle, the Southwest Chief and “Texas Eagle” to Chicago, and the Sunset Limited to New Orleans), it also serves Amtrak’s California Pacific Surfliner regional trains which run frequently to/from San Diego north to either Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo. The station is also the hub of the Metrolink commuter trains and serves as a stop on the Metro Rail system.