Posts Tagged ‘martini’

*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed them in The Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

A few nights ago, I suffered a truly awful anxiety dream—vicious even, because it twisted one of my very favorite activities—cocktailing with people I respect and experimenting with new flavors—into a nightmare.

The scene: a crowded auditorium packed to the gills with some of the brightest stars in the mixological galaxy. Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff is there, as is Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh and Imbibe! author and my personal hero, David Wondrich, as well as bar superstars from both coasts and every city in between. They’re here for a cocktail contest in which I am competing. I’m standing above them on a very high stage, flanked to my left by the late Jerry Thomas, and to my right by—who else?—Tom Cruise from the movie Cocktail, circa 1988.

The challenge: Invent a delectable cocktail in under five minutes using nothing more than the mysterious contents of a velvet drawstring bag that sat in the center of each bartender’s station. A pistol is fired, signaling the start of the cocktail competition, and as Jerry Thomas and Tom Cruise tear into their velvet bags and start mixing … I freeze.

My heart pounds, my palms sweat, my ears start ringing. To my left, Jerry Thomas is tossing a stream of liquid between two glasses in an arc high above his head, somehow not spilling a drop. To my right, Tom Cruise is gyrating and flipping bottles in time with the music, which is of course “Hippy Hippy Shake.” A smiling Katie Holmes looks on. The crowd roars, chanting “LU-PEC, LU-PEC.” And I can’t move.

I awoke from this terrible scene with a start, and an ocean of relief washed over me when I realized it was just a dream. The chances that I’ll ever be mixing up drinks alongside a 1988 Tom Cruise from Cocktail and Jerry Thomas, who died in 1885, are slim. However, I can sleep soundly knowing if that situation ever did come to pass, I have several classic cocktail-making patterns up my sleeve that would help me rise to the occasion, such as this one, for a delightful aperitif cocktail. You may recognize it as the basic template (minus the barspoon of liqueur) for both the martini and the Manhattan, two drinks that have stood the test of time and are still popular among modern drinkers over a century after their birth. Fill in the blanks and give it a spin at home. After all, generations of drinkers can’t be wrong.


Adapted from BarSmarts

2 oz high-proof base spirit
1 oz low-proof aperitif (vermouth, Lillet, Aperol, etc.) or fortified wine (a light wine, such as dry sherry, works well with white spirits; heavier wines, such as port, work well with brown spirits)
1 bar spoon liqueur (for accent, a great way to play around with more pungent herbal liqueurs)
2 dashes bitters (use orange or fruit bitters for lighter drinks; angostura, Peychaud’s or other aromatic bitters for heavier ones)

Stir ingredients over ice in a mixing glass; strain into the glass of your choice.


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by Pink Lady

“The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.”

– Bernard De Voto

Yes, we are talking about vermouth again, both here and in our column in The Weekly Dig. I’ll admit, the story idea came to me after taking my sixth or seventh order for a “Grey Goose Martini, extra extra dry, extra extra dirty, with extra olives,” during a busy Thursday evening shift at Toro. “What if all of those drinkers put a spirit and a mixer with actual flavor into their glasses, rather than covering up chilled vodka with a tablespoonful of olive brine?” I wondered. I suspected these drinkers might enjoy a “wet” martini.

After my shift ended, I hopped back behind the bar with MiMi, who works at Toro too, and we put our theory to the test. We mixed up a massive glass of Grey Goose shaken with a generous dollop of olive brine, and a gin martini with 2 parts Bombay Sapphire and 1 part Martini & Rossi dry vermouth stirred over ice and tasted them against one another. The Grey Goose dirty thing tasted saltier than I remembered, presenting a flavor profile that no drink made sans olive brine could hope to match. But the gin martini tasted to both of us as we suspected: balanced and slightly savory.

All of this activity attracted the attention of the peanut gallery, and we ended up sharing our sips with a group of four friends/regulars who had been drinking at the end of the bar for a little over an hour. I also made them taste a splash of vermouth on its own. I’ll summarize their reactions below:

GUY #1: (A friend of GUY #4, who I suspect was more interested in talking to the pretty ladies.) So, wait…this one is the vodka thing? It’s good. And this one is the gin thing? This is the one you like better? Yeah…it’s delicious. So anyway, what’s your name?

GUY #2: (A chef who is well-acquainted with the local cocktail scene.) Yeah, it’s more balanced than the dirty vodka thing. And the vermouth is really light and refreshing. Can I have another PBR now?

GUY #3: (Clearly a bit more intoxicated than the rest.) So wait, this is Grey Goose? Yeah, that’s the best kind. This dirty martini is way, way better than the other one. Not even a question. The other one doesn’t even taste like vodka. I remember this one time when I was drinking vodka at a concert and [INSERT MEANDERING STORY WITH COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT POINT HERE].

GUY #4: (A beloved regular, also rather intoxicated.) What are we doing again? You want me to taste something?

To supplement our rather unhelpful experiment with the peanut gallery, I embarked on a little home experiment to compare and contrast how the various types of gin on my home bar (Plymouth, Hendricks, Genvieve) play with the two types of vermouth I have on hand in the fridge (Noilly Prat and Vya, which we mentioned in in our first post on vermouth and was also recently covered by The Leather District Gourmet here). I mixed martinis in a 2:1 ratio and tested them on my unsuspecting, non-cocktailian friend with the following results. I also made her drink Grey Goose + olive brine, for which was very forgiving:

Plymouth + Noilly Prat = “Delicious, refreshing. What’s in this again? So simple.”img_2941

Grey Goose + olive brine = “That’s really, really salty. Blech.”

Hendricks + Noilly Prat = “Very floral and much more crisp than the first.”

Genvieve + Noilly Prat = “Is this grappa?”

Plymouth + Vya = “Good. Richer. I like the first one better.”

Hendricks + Vya = “Crazy floral and herbaceous. Almost too much.”

Genevieve + Vya = “Super strong. I don’t think I could drink a whole glass of this, but again, I’m one of few Americans who actually likes grappa so I don’t hate it. Can we please stop drinking gin now?”

I relented.

And the moral of the story is, when a LUPEC gal invites you over the taste-test martinis, it’s not a joke.

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