Expanded List of Botanical Elements

juniper-berry-2

I received an comment from a newer reader complimenting me on my page “Botanical Elements of Gin“.  Then she asked if I knew of a resource for ingredients in specific gins.  I don’t have such a resource but it got me thinking.

So I started doing some very exhausting and time consuming research and came up with a few examples.  (Ok, I picked up a few bottles and read the ingredients.)

In any case, I’ve listed the ingredients in several popular gins in the same page noted above.  If you haven’t checked it out in the past, follow the link above and take a look.  Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

Bombay Sapphire:  Juniper Berries, Lemon Peel, Coriander, Angelica, Orris, Grains of Paradise, Cubeb Berries, Cassia Bark, Almonds, & Liquorice.
Bombay Sapphire East adds Lemongrass & Black Pepper to the above list.

 

How Dry Can You Go?

Vermouth Ad 1

How Dry is Dry?  Can a Martini by “too” Dry?   It’s a subject that attracts a lot of humor, such as:

“A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy.”
Noël Coward

“I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my martini.”
Sir Winston Churchill

The subject also garners some waxing philosophical…. such as:

“I’d like  dry martini, Mr. Quoc, a very dry martini.  A very dry, arid, barren, desiccated, veritable dust-bowl of a martini.  I want a martin that could be declared a disaster area.  Mix me just such a martini”
Hawkeye Pierce.

Clearly a Martini can only be ‘so dry’, as once there is zero Vermouth in the drink, there can be no less and thus no drier.  But the two quotes above provide an humorous implied ‘dryness’ level based upon how remotely the cocktail can be referenced to Vermouth, or its home country Italy.

Which brings me to my latest ‘driest martini’ story:

A man sits down at the bar in the RMS Queen Mary on its way from England to the US.  He asks the bartender for a very dry Martini.  The bartender responds, “Sir, we make the driest martini here on the Queen Mary”.  The man looks a bit unsure and asks, “How do you know that you have the driest Martini?”  The bartender replies, “Well half way through the voyage we will pass the SS United States.  When we do that I go to the top deck with our bottle of Vermouth and the United States Bartender goes to the top of his deck with his bottle and we salute Italy”.

It seems there will always be some debate about the driest of the dry.  And that’s a great thing as it is always in good fun and provides us with a laugh or three.

Of course I like my Martini with just a hint of Vermouth, what one bar keep referred to as “In-n-Out”*.  A Martini without any Vermouth is really just chilled Gin in a martini stem.

As I’ve commented before, “A martini stem does not a Martini make”.

(These quotes and jokes, and more, can be found on the “Martini Quotes” and “Martini Jokes” pages.)

*In-n-Out Martini:  Take a capful of Vermouth and pour it over your ice, swirl the Vermouth around the ice and then drain the Vermouth.

 

What is a Martini?

After my recent post on Eggnog Martini (Egg Nog Martini??? Really?) in which I generally described my amusement, if not disdain, of various cocktails described as “Martinis”… or more typically, ‘somthing‘tini a person very close to me asked “OK, what makes a Martini a Martini”.

To answer that I’ll ask, “What makes a chocolate chip cookie a chocolate chip cookie”?  Bear with me here and all will be clear.

There are a lot of ‘-tinis’ out there that are, or have been, popular, even trendy;  Appletini, Chocotini, Cranberrytini, Peachtini, Watermellontini, Peppermintini, Bacontini, etc.  These cocktails may indeed  be delicious, fun, and frivolous.  The common element in these cocktails is that they are served in a martini stem and usually made with vodka.

But a martini stem does not a Martini make.   Similarly a small baked bit of batter alone does not a Chocolate Chip Cookie make.

A Martini has a definite recipe.  It is composed of Gin, Vermouth, and a garnish.  Vodka is an acceptable, if not traditional, substitute for Gin.  The garnish may be an olive or twist.  And it’s traditionally served in a martini stem, but that does not make it a Martini.

A Chocolate Chip Cookie has a definite recipe with very few variations.  It is a cookie made with Chocolate Chips.   And maybe some walnuts and / or marshmallows.  It is not a biscotti, or bagel, or muffin.  It is a cookie.  And it must have Chocolate Chips.

A Martini does not have apple, chocolate, peach, peppermint, or Eggnog.  A Chocolate Chip Cookie does not have raisins, lemon peel, oatmeal, cranberries, or peanuts.

Oatmeal raisin cookies are delicious and a personal favorite.  The look very similar to Chocolate Chip cookies, but they are not a “Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip cookie”.   And an Appletini maybe fun and tasty, but it is not a Martini.

So what makes a Martini a Martini?  Gin, Vermouth (proportions to personal taste) and a garnish; olive or twist.  Preferably served chilled in a chilled martini stem.

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.