Shaken, Stirred, or Smashed???

Not long ago while on travel I stopped in at a fine restaurant for a ‘nite cap’ on my way ‘home’, i.e., the current hotel.  I ordered my usual dry Sapphire martini.

The bartender took a stem from the freezer and placed in on the bar.  Next he took a metal shaker, put ice in it, and then poured in the gin.  Finally instead of putting the top on the shaker he took out a long stirring spoon.  At this point I thought he was going to stir the drink.  Not a problem, I always let the local barkeep make the Martini at his discretion.  At least the first one.  😉

To my amusement and surprise he proceed to pound the ice with the spoon.  Sort of like a muddler with mint for a Mojito, but with much more enthusiasm.

When he served the martini I jokingly asked if that was considered “Shaken or Stirred”.  He smiled and responded with “Well, more like smashed or crushed”.  He went on to explain that this establishment liked to serve their Martinis with a thin layer of crushed ice on the surface of the drink and this was the best way to achieve that effect.  I think he referred to it as the ‘ice rink’ style.

Personally I don’t mind a few ice chips floating in the martini.  Not sure about a full layer of chips though.   And I think you could easily do that with vigorously shaking the Martini as well.  Having said that, the Martini was excellent.

Bar Review: P.F. Chang’s, Atlanta Airport

As you know, I don’t usually review chain restaurants.  Even those as nice as P.F. Chang’s.  You also might have noticed that I review a lot of bars on the two coasts.  Traveling back and forth I pass through Atlanta’s airport quite often.  Very Often!

Finding a place to eat and grab a Martini while transferring in an airport is rough.  Historically airport food has been mediocre, at best.  Thankfully times change and the options today are much better.  Atlanta Airport is certainly right there with “One Flew South” and others.

But I’m looking for a Martini, or two, between my flights and my choice is P.F. Chang’s. Which is located in the center of concourse A, upstairs.

There are several reasons.  First, the Martinis are good.  Not super, not great, but well chilled, abundant, and reasonably priced.  Second, I can sit at the bar and look out over the airport and watch the planes roll slowly by.  Well part of the airport anyway, ATL is pretty huge.

Third, the staff knows that people are in transit and they get your order to you quickly; food and drink.  Fouth, there is a power outlet between every other seat at the bar.  Perfect for charging your phone/iPad/Nexus or whatever.  Finally, the people there are really very friendly.

So P.F. Chang’s Atlanta Airport gets an ‘Honorable Mention’ in my review collection.  And one stem:  Martini Glass Upright

*****   Rating Definitions   ****

Happy Birthday Sir Sean Connery

Happy Birthday to Sir Sean Connery, the original, and in many minds, the best James Bond.  He is 85 today.

Connery is also the original voice behind my ‘Shaken, not Stirred’ theme on this blog.  I can’t speak for everyone else, but when I read these words, it’s Connery’s voice I hear in my head.

Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Conclusion.

Over the past several weeks I’ve waxed poetic on the differences between Shaken Martinis and Stirred Martinis.    We’ve talked about Temperature, Dilution, Bruising, and Taste.  So what is the combined consensus conclusion?

Lets review the score:
Temperature – Draw                                                   Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Temperature
Dilution – Stirring                                                         Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Dilution
Bruising – Draw                                                            Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Bruising
Taste – Draw                                                                 Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste

Overall Advantage:  Your call.

Here’s the bottom line.   I like my martinis cold.  I like them with Bombay Sapphire.  You may like yours at a milder temperature with Hendrick’s or Nolet’s or any other fine Gin.  The taste difference between my Cold Bombay Sapphire and your ‘cool’ Nolet’s far eclipses any differences of taste that may, or may not, occur from Shaking or Stirring.

I can hear the screams among you…. “A cope out”,  “I need an answer”,  “I can’t stand the ambiguity”,  “Tell me what to think”, …

Really?    I have said from the beginning that your “Perfect Martini” may not be the same as my “Perfect Martini”.   It’s sort of like that metaphysical philosophical Tao ‘find your own beach’ thing that someone does on TV.  😀

I hope to educate, elaborate,  and engross; to amuse and delight; and, hopefully, perhaps start a discussion or even a bit of controversy.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.  I’d love to hear what you have to say.

 

And please, if you like what you read, subscribe to this blog.

 

Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste

We’ve finally come to the final, and probably most important, contentious, and difficult edition of Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste.  Does Shaking change the taste of the Martini?

I’ve been scratching my head trying to develop an effective and simple taste test for Shaken vs. Stirred: Taste while eliminating the differences due to temperature, dilution, and ‘bruising’.  Recall that for this article we consider bruising to be the emulsification of the Martini from shaking.  See Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Bruising for details.

Here’s what I’ve done.  I’ve prepared two dry Martinis (i.e., Gin) using 1 1/4 oz. of my favorite Gin.  Each was mixed with 20 ice cubes, one shaken for 10 seconds and one stirred for 45 seconds.   Then put in identical glasses and placed in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  By doing this I’ve removed the variable of temperature.  I mixed the gin for different times in the hope of removing the variable of dilution.  (I didn’t quite succeed, the shaken Martini contained a bit more drink, so it was a bit more diluted.)  Finally by allowing the two glasses to sit I’ve allowed the emulsification to dissipate thereby removing the variable of ‘bruising’.

So which ‘won’??    Hold that thought for now…. Lets start with a couple of facts.  First, taste is a combination of sensor receptors on the tongue (taste receptors, or buds) and in the nasal cavity (olfactory epithelium).   There are also secondary conditions that affect taste; e.g., temperature, texture, and ‘heat’ / spiciness.

Second, taste is a function of “chemistry”.  By that I mean that the body (tongue, palate, mouth, and nose) detects various molecules, ions, chemicals, and compounds and sends signals to the brain which interprets the information as ‘taste’.

Therefore to declare that Shaking a martini changes the taste we must infer that Shaking changes the martini’s chemistry.  Is that possible?  Well, it appears that may be the case.  I did an extensive bit of research (thank you Google) and found the following.

The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario conducted a study to determine if the preparation of a martini has an influence on its antioxidant capacity. They found that the shaken gin martinis were able to break down hydrogen peroxide and leave only 0.072% of the peroxide behind, versus the stirred gin martini, which left behind 0.157% of the peroxide.*

I should also note that the above is the only “citeable” bit of evidence I found anywhere.  Everything else was subjective.  Which brings up the question; is a difference of 0.085% (0.157 – 0.072) peroxide detectable?

Of all the posts, blogs, editorials, and opinions I have read, none provided any solid evidence of the taste changes – in Gin.  A  few reported subtle changes in cheap Vodka martinis – something about cheap vodka being made from potatoes which leave extra oils in the liquor.

The few ‘side by side’ reports I found noted how one method made the Martini colder or weaker or cloudier.  But not a difference in taste.

Which leads us back my experiment: so which tastes better?  To be absolutely honest, I couldn’t taste any difference.  I went back and forth repeatedly, even rinsing my mouth between tastes.  The stirred martini was just a tad stronger, but it didn’t taste different.  That is surely due to the slightly greater dilution of the shaken Martini.  I will certainly try this again adjusting the mixing times and possibly adding straight gin as a third option.  I’ll keep you informed.

Advantage?
Draw.  I could not taste a difference.  Nor can I find documented evidence of a taste difference in Gin anywhere in the googlesphere.  Please send me any links to such articles if you can find them.
*  Hirst, M.; Trevithick, J. R. (18 December 1999). “Shaken, not stirred: bio-analytical study of the antioxidant activities of martinis”. British Medical Journal 319 (7225): 1600–2. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7225.1600. PMC 28303. PMID 10600955. Retrieved 2006-04-12.

Bar Review: Bonefish Grill, Langhorne, PA

I normally wouldn’t review a chain restaurant but Bonefish Grill doesn’t ‘feel’ like a chain.   Indeed, when I first walked in I thought it was a local establishment and didn’t realize it wasn’t until I looked online for the correct spelling of “Langhorne”.   Turns out there are quite a few scattered across the US, including a couple very close to my home.  Totally unbeknownst to me.  But I’ll be visiting them in the future.

This particular restaurant is very near a hotel I stay at regularly when visiting eastern Pennsylvania and I’ve eaten there several times in the past.   Bonefish Grill is, as its name would suggest, a seafood restaurant with daily fresh fish specials and a nice selection of regular items.  Everything I’ve had has been very good; fresh, nicely prepared, good sides, ample portions, and served with a smile.  The staff is friendly without being over bearing.

But this last visit I decided to focus on the Martini.  Overall they serve a very good Martini.   The stems are stored in the freezer, which is always a big plus in my book.  The barkeep, Trish this evening, mixed the martini quickly with no fuss and no vermouth.

I do prefer a whisper of Vermouth so I wouldn’t elevate this to ‘Perfect’ status, but as Bond (Fleming) said, “Mais n’enculons pas des mouches”.   My only real complaint about the martini, which keeps Bonefish Grill from a second martini glass, is the relatively small size of the martini.   Martini Glass Upright

“C” for selection, which is what I would expect from a restaurant chain.    A sampling of their gins:  Hendricks, Bombay, Sapphire, Beefeater, Bluecoat American Gin

*****   Rating Definitions   ****

 

Thoughts on Stemware, Part Three

Its been a while since I shared some thoughts on stemware, so here are a few Friday Musings….

Crooked stems?  Split?  Or big sweeping curving stems?  Is there some reason for a crooked/curved/split stem that I’m just not seeing?  Or is this just trendy?

And I’ve already demonized those little squat ugly stems in the past.  (You can find my past stemware comments in the “Stemware” category over on your left.)

What about colored stemware?  I’m partial to clear crystal so I can see what I’m drinking.  Ok, maybe a colored ‘stem’.  I know there’s no difference in taste or thermal affects so maybe I’m just being traditional?

Anyplace that offers a Martini in a plastic stem should be shut down immediately.  Unless you’re on a pool deck of course.

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