One Year Anniversary!

One Year
December 24 marks the one year anniversary of my second first post*!

I want to take a moment to thank all those who have read through my posts and especially those who have provided a comment or three.  Thank you.

Its been an amazing year really.  I’ve actually posted 146 items and received 123 comments, collected almost 70 Martini / Cocktail quotes, and 6 Martini jokes (I need more!!!).

When I started I was worried that I’d run out of things to say.  Fortunately, being of the opinionated sort, I found more about which to opine that I originally thought I would.

And the scope of blog has grown a bit.  Originally I believed I’d sporadically comment about Martinis with an occasional Bar review.  Then more bar reviews came along and became more extensive.  Somewhere I started adding Random Martini Quotes and that was a lot of fun.   Finally I started reviewing not just a bar’s Martini capabilities but also providing a grade on their Gin selection.

I also created a Twitter account (@Shkn_Nt_Strrd) to go along with this blog.  I thought they would mirror each other, so every time I post something I link it to @Shkn_Nt_Strrd.  But the twitter account has grown beyond just Martinis.  Its tag line is “Celebrating the finer things in life!”.

I’m not sure what the future holds but I will keep this blog going.  Perhaps I won’t post quite as much …. but who knows.  I’ve been having fun with this and I don’t see that changing.

Again, many thanks to all of my readers.

 

* For those of you wondering what ‘second first’ post means I’ll take a moment to give some ancient history.

My very first post was actually titled Welcome and occurred on August 21, 2013.  I had just bought the web address and loaded up WordPress and was eager to get going.  But I really had no idea what I was doing and ….. then I got lost into trying to create the ‘perfect’ web page.  During the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 I spent a lot of mental effort thinking about, researching ‘hot to’, and playing with the format of this blog.  I thought I needed the web page totally set up before I started writhing.   Ultimately I made very little progress either in writing or designing.

Somewhere near the end of 2014 I had an epiphany of sorts.  I realized that I wanted to write about martinis and I wasn’t doing that.  I still didn’t know what I was doing, but I started over and figured I’d jump in and learn about the visuals and formatting as I was writing and enjoying the Martinis…. and so my “second first” post occurred December 24, 2014 and was titled Introduction.

Egg Nog Martini??? Really?

skeptic-clipart-royalty-free-eyes-clipart-illustration-1078707Really?

I’ve previously railed about candy drinks and candy martinis specifically.   (You can seem my prior opinions at The Martini, Part Two)  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by an Eggnog Martini.  And would that be ‘Eggnogini’?  But, really????

Now there is no doubt in my mind that these sweet, spicy, tongue-coatingly thick concoctions will be absolutely scrumptiously decadently delicious.  (Not to mention wonderfully fattening!)

And I do love Eggnog!  Plain or even with a little Kahlua or Spiced Rum!  I’m sure I’d enjoy all of these Eggnog “Martini”s.   So enjoy your luscious libation.  But its NOT a Martini.  😀

Season’s Greetings to all!

Do All Hotel Bars Suck??

OK, maybe I should ask ‘do all business hotel’s bars suck?’

I’m sure there are divine resorts out there somewhere on a moonlit beach that serve awesome never-to-be-forgotten martinis.    And exquisite penthouse bars topping luxury hotels in the cosmopolitan centers of the world that serve flaming ice cold martinis in giant stein sized stems.  You know, the places with Astons parked outside, topless Victoria Secret models lounging at the pools, and where cognac or champagne ads are perpetually being filmed.

Most of us mere mortals do not stay at these places on business or even family vacations. No, most of us business travelers are not CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, or C ‘pick a title’ Os.  We are are the road warriors that do real work for our companies.

We end up at the Hampton/Courtyard/Ramada/Howard Johnson/Four Points.  And if they have a bar, they just suck.   But what do you after 8 hours of flying in two, or more, aluminum cans and you finally get to the hotel at 9:47pm??  Go out looking for a decent bar??

You grimace, sigh heavily, and go down to the local hotel bar and order a drink.   Then you pray.  Pray that the local beer slinger knows what a martini is.   Pray that the local concept of a DRY martini is not a 2 to 1 ratio!!!  In either direction.  O.o  Pray that they know the difference between a twist and a slice, or worse a wedge, of lemon.

YES, I have experienced each of these disgraces to the noble Martini.   And many more.  I’ve previously detailed some of these experiences of my Martini pet peeves which you can see in my previous post, ingeniously named Martini Making Pet Peeves.

This is why I try very hard to stay at the local big city hotels when I travel, much to my boss’s amusement.  Even if I have to drive an hour into ‘the sticks’ to get to my meeting.  In the city I have a much better chance to find a good bar that knows how to make a good Martini.

Driving an hour to work in the morning is better than an evening with a bad martini!  If I just had an Aston it would be two hours!

The Perfect Martini Process, V1.0

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, I thought it time to share what I believe works best for me.  Interestingly over the course of the last year 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.

Anyway, here is my process.  Note that I say ‘process’, not recipe.  The recipe is pretty simple:  3 ounces of chilled Bombay Sapphire Gin, a capful of Vermouth, and a twist.  But it is the process of putting that together that really makes the Perfect Martini.

The process starts with advanced preparation.  Put the bottle of Gin and your Martini stem in the freezer and the vermouth in the refrigerator.   IF you use a massive shaker, that should go in the freezer too.  This should be done well before you need to prepare the Martini.  (I just leave my gin in the freezer and vermouth in the fridge permanently.)

Then make the twist.  I always prepare the twist before the martini so that the martini doesn’t wait, and get warm, if I make the twist at the end of the process.  No, the twist will not wilt or dry out in the 90 seconds you make the Martini…. it will be just fine waiting for its grand entry at the end of the process.   This goes for olives, if you prefer them…. spear them before the martini.

Finally we start 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 cap off the Vermouth bottle, fill it with 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 3 ounces of Bombay Sapphire Gin into the shaker.  (That’s 6 tablespoons or a 3/8 cup if you don’t have a jigger.)  Shake the shaker vigorously for about 10 seconds.   10 seconds is all you need to chill the liquid, any more and your just working your biceps, triceps, and delts.

Now, quickly remove the Martini stem from the freezer and pour 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.

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

 

Bar Review: Red Oak Steakhouse, Quapaw, OK

The Red Oak Steakhouse is part of the Downstream Casino in Quapaw, OK.  Very much off the beaten path, though only a few hundred meters off Interstate 44 where Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas all meet.

It is absolutely the best steakhouse in the area.  The next closest steakhouse of similar caliber would be either Oklahoma City or Kansas City.

The Martinis are also very good.   The stems are kept in the refrigerator, they’re mixed perfectly & amply and served promptly.  Their gin selection in pretty sparse but they do have my favorite: Bombay Sapphire.  The barkeep is quite friendly and will be happy to regale you with the history of the Bar, the Casino, and the Quapaw tribe.

If you find yourself in this part of the country and hungry, then definitely stop in for the steak.  Get a Martini too, they’re good.   It will be worth the side trip off the freeway.  The Red Oak gets one stem:  Martini Glass Upright

For selection the Red Oak Steakhouse gets a C-.  Their Gin selection is pretty short with Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Tanqueray 10, and Hendricks.

 

*****   Rating Definitions   ****

Random Martini Quote of the Day

“… all my life I’ve been terrible at remembering people’s names. I once introduced a friend of mine as Martini. Her name was actually Olive.”
Tallulah Bankhead

 

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

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Martini Making Pet Peeves

Do you have a pet peeve regarding Martini Making?  I do, several.

Having now carefully observed many bartenders making my Martinis and, on occasion, taking notes I have come up with a few pet peeves on bartender’s Martini making processes.  Now, I’m not going to claim that any of these little nits actually make a difference in the taste of the Martini, but they sure do affect the enjoyment of the Martini.

My first, and by far the biggest, pet peeve is leaving my finished martini on the bar or prep station instead of giving it to me.  I can see that the Martini is done and yet there it sits over by the bartender instead of in front of me.  It’s getting warm and my tip is getting lower by the second.

I don’t care if your boss has a question.  Or the phone rings.  Or the bar-back needs guidance.  Or, god forbid, your spouse / GF/BF calls.  I’m the customer and my Martini should be delivered immediately upon completion.

The second pet peeve is similar to the first but not as egregious.  And that is the barkeep taking FOREVER to make the martini.  First walking to one end of the bar to get a martini stem before putting it down on the prep station.  Then looking around and getting  some ice to put in the stem.  Perhaps going to get some water to put on the ice in the stem.  Then walking to the far end of the bar to get the gin and bringing to the prep station.   Looking around for a jigger before walking over to the tool chest and finding it.  Finally mixing the Martini and then looking around for the garnish.  Oh, right, there isn’t one, so then we start the process of looking for a lemon to make the twist…..

Speaking of the garnish; pet peeve number three.  Get the garnish ready FIRST.  Put the olives on the toothpick or strip the twist off the lemon first.  You’ve properly shaken the gin and vermouth and poured into the chilled stem.  It’s all now perfectly mixed and nicely chilled.  But if you start working on your garnish now the Martini is just warming up.

Next Pet Peeve: Inadequately stirred Martinis.  As you know I prefer my Martini shaken, but I don’t ask for it shaken.  If the house policy is stirring, then I’m fine with that.  BUT, stir it enough to properly chill the Martini.  A quick 10 second stir is NOT enough.  It needs a good 60 seconds of stirring.  If you can’t take the time to properly prepare a stirred and chilled Martini then shake it.

Rarest Pet Peeve:  Not knowing how to make a Martini.  Enough said!

Final Pet Peeves.  This is for all the other little “tip killing” annoyances:
•Not knowing what Gins you stock.  Really?  There usually aren’t that many.  Or are Gin drinkers really that rare?
•Not knowing that you’re out of one of the Gins.  I’ll cut you a little slack here if you’ve just come on duty.
•Dirty stem.  Didn’t you look at the stem when you picked it up?  Didn’t you see the lipstick or left over chocolate on it?  Or did you just not care?
•Cracked stem.  Again, didn’t you look at the stem when you picked it up?
•Soapy stem.  Hey, I’m really glad you washed the stem, but next time please rinse it completely.

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   ****

 

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.  😉