~ Totally Undeserving of the James Beard Award

~ Completely Undeserving of the James Beard Award ~

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ever Heard of a Kangaroo Cocktail?...

I bet you have..or a "Vodkatini?

Some order it shaken, not stirred.

Or you maybe you like it "dirty"?...(yeah, I know YOU do, but I'm not talking about that!)...I meant it's with a dash of liquid from the olive jar.

Yes, ladies and germs, I'm talking about the revered, the chic, the esteemed Martini.

Purists will state a true martini is only made with gin and if you want some sort of concoction made with vodka and vermouth…well then, you’ll just have to order it that way.

“Barkeep…please pour 1 & ½ ounces of XYZ vodka in a cold glass over ice, add a splash of vermouth, shake it around and pour it in a glass and please plop an olive into it while your at it”.

Or…back in the day you would order a “Kangaroo”…later a “Vodkatini” would be ordered…but who in the hell is going to order a “Vodkatini” and not get laughed at?

How about a "Gibson"...simply a martini garnished with a pickled cocktail onion.

A "perfect" martini uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth (and of course the booze)

While there are no steadfast rules on the ratio, the basic recipe is:

1 ½ oz...Gin or Vodka

¾ oz...Vermouth

Garnish with an olive or a twist of lemon

Now, there has been a bit of transformation of the booze/vermouth ratio over the years. A ratio of 1:1 was common at the turn of the 20th Century, and 3:1 or 4:1 martinis were typical during the 30s and 40s. During the latter part of the 20th century, 6:1, 8:1, 12:1, or even 50:1 or 100:1 martinis became considered the norm

However, there have been many who reject the notion of adding any vermouth...

Noël Coward suggested that the ideal martini should be made by "filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy (a major producer of vermouth).

There are a few Winston Churchill quotes floating around, such as he liked his martini so dry he would...just glance at the vermouth bottle...or bow in the direction of France (another major producer of vermouth)...or he would whisper the word "vermouth" in the glass before pouring.

"One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough."
James Thurber

Now you could use both gin and vodka...that is, if you are James Bond. The website James Bond Lifestyle explains...

The recipe for Bond's "Vesper" martini, as described in the 2006 movie: 'Three measures of Gordon's (gin); one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.

Kina Lillet is nowadays simply names "Lillet". Lillet (pronounced lee-lay), is a French Aperitif made from a blend of wine, liqueurs, fruits and herbs. It originated in the French village of Podensac. It is used as the vermouth.

In the movie Casino Royale, when Vesper (the "girl") asks Bond if he named the drink after her "because of the bitter aftertaste", 007 replies that he named it for her, "because once you have tasted it, you won't drink anything else."

Gin is:

Derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). From its earliest beginnings in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved over the course of a millennium from a herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Today, the gin category is one of the most popular and widely distributed range of spirits, and is represented by products of various origins, styles, and flavor profiles that all revolve around juniper as a common ingredient.

And here's a bit about Vodka:

distilled beverage composed primarily of water and ethanol with traces of impurities and flavorings. (yum!) Vodka is made by the distillation of fermented substances such as grainspotatoes, or sometimes fruits or sugar.

According to Esquire magazine..."Whiskey is liquor distilled from grain, and vodka is therefore whiskey. Underaged, overdistilled, heavily filtered whiskey, but still whiskey".

American didn't drink vodka until after WWII. In 1950, forty thousand cases of vodka were sold. In 1955, four million. Now that's marketing. In 1967, vodka outsold gin. In 1976, it outsold whiskey.

So, now that you are all knowledgable about all that...let's make one shall we?

First put on some Sinatra. Frank Baby preferred Jack Daniels, but when I have a martini I feel I should be in Vegas in 1964....up three C-notes playing craps...I polished off a nice medium rare New York and creamed spinach...settling in for a night on the town with my doll on my arm (which is of course Mrs. Blogger Man!) in a tux and it's not a rental.

Okay, so get all your ingredients out. The main player here is not the booze or the vermouth or the glass or the garnish or even the technique...it's the lowly ice cube.

Cold...ice cold is what is important here. Get your vodka and glass frigid in the freezer.

So, to shake or to stir? Martiniphobes say shaking will "bruise" the gin (really?), but shaking will aerate the liquids which will result in a more cloudy drink. The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario in Canada conducted a study, which determined a shaken martini has more antioxidants than a stirred one...so there you go, more antioxidants...and that's a good thing...I guess.

Fill your shaker with ice. Again, the debate goes on...crushed or cubed or slivers? Add the amount of gin (or vodka) and vermouth you prefer, shake the hell out of it for a good 7-10 seconds, strain it into your frozen glass and garnish.  

And remember the wisdom of ol' Dean-O...If you drink, don't drive...don't even putt!

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