Thursday, May 24, 2007

Real Martini

The afternoon sun, a cold martini with the condensation sweating down the outside of its glass, and a bite of a new season's peach - that's the way life should be (and was yesterday out on the veranda at Chez Cizauskas).

Yes, the glass wasn't a cocktail glass. (I'll head out to the store to purchase one this weekend.) And yes, there was an ice cube or two floating in the beverage. But boy, oh boy, that looked good and tasted good.

It was a martini: that means gin and a touch of dry vermouth. Any other use of the word is either redundant or redolent of apostasy. An apple isn't a Cadillac, and a Miller Lite isn't a "true genuine pilsner", and vodka or whatever isn't a martini. Gin is.

My recipe?

It's 2 ounces of Boodles gin (just aromatic enough but without the botanical rain forest character of some newer gins) to a quarter or half-ounce of dry vermouth, then garnished with an olive and finished with just a dab of olive juice. Stir, and serve very chilled.

Said better than I could ...

Read NY Times critic Eric Asimov's comments. Or read Frederic Koeppel's hilarious Bigger than Your Head, of which I'll quote just the final two paragraphs, a paen to afternoon delight:

And maybe someday, just maybe, after all the chocolate martinis and apple martinis and lychee and melon martinis and ginseng martinis and, hell, I dunno, black-strap molasses martinis, one of these young people will clamber to a bar-stool after a hard day’s work and say to the bartender, “Gimme a, uh, well, you know, gimme one of those real martinis, you know? Gin and vermouth and an olive?”

And the bartender will carefully craft — stirred, not shaken — such a concoction and pour it into an elegant cocktail glass (a triumph of economical design) and set it, sleek, gleaming, transparent, on the bar on a pristine white square of napkin, and the young person will sip it tentatively, exploringly, and discover how cold it is, how openly astringent yet supple, how complicated in its clean, slightly sharp medicinal citrus, cedary and floral hints but with all edges buffed by the slightly bland herbal nature of the vermouth, and how the faint tang of olive, earthy and comfortable, floats on the surface, and the young person will experience an epiphany and stand up and declare, “Now I have put behind me childish things.”

The martini as a harbinger of spring.

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