St. Germain

I have a bottle of St. Germain because I love the flavor/scent of elderflower. But as I generally don’t like my cocktails overly sweet, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it all. Mixing it with sparkling wine or water is always an option, but there must be more I can do with it.

This past Sunday, the weather was surprisingly pleasant, and I mixed this up as a light, summery drink:

1 oz. Gin

1 oz. St. Germain

3 or 4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake well with ice, pour over ice into glass of your choice (I used an old-fashioned, but a highball might be more appropriate), top off with sparkling water.

I think it turned out rather well; the sweetness was not overpowering and the elderflower aroma stood out nicely. I’ve not got a name for it yet, partly because I’d like to tweak it some more. If anyone has any suggestions as to what they might add or change, feel free. I might play with the bitters or add a twist myself. Also, thoughts on the use of St. Germain generally?

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

A Shot of Inspiration, Two Dashes of Imagination

The trend now seems to be to attach the suffix “-tini” to the name of almost any alcoholic mixture poured into a cocktail glass. Some of these appear to have more ingredients than a Long Island Iced Tea, and more than a few contain no trace of gin (or vodka, if you must). Clearly, all that remains is to mix bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters, call it a “Manhattini,” and the farce will be complete. This is not to say that these new inventions are not cocktails, and some of them may even be quite good. But they are not Martinis. It does seem to me that if one is going exercise the imagination in the creation of a new cocktail, one should finish the job by creating a new name for it. If people would just exercise their minds just a little, I’m sure we could come up with plenty of interesting names for the multitude of pseudo-martinis which appear on the menus of today’s trendy cocktail establishments. If all else fails, there’s always the option of selecting interesting words from the dictionary; I’d particularly like to try a Syzygy.

It seems altogether likely that I will continue to rant on this subject intermittently until Last Call.

Ranting aside, at times I have held views about the character of the martini as a cocktail and about its composition and method of creation. Such notions are bunk. The only way to take a Martini is the way you like it. I will try not to judge you for it.

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 12:56 am  Leave a Comment  

A Drink with Something in it.

“Let’s get out of these wet things and into a dry martini.”  – Robert Benchley, or not, depending on whom you ask…

A Martini was my first cocktail, so it seems like the right place to start. While I enjoy cocktails in general, I always return to the Martini when I’m in need of something to soothe the spirit. Of course, I also like the fact that the Martini is so heavily-laden with cultural significance; almost every notable of the last century seems to be associated with the Martini in one way or another. So much has been said and written on the subject by people cleverer than I, that I cannot presume now to add anything of note. But I would like to say a few words on the subject, a small, personal paean to an old classic.

These days, I take my Martinis with gin and a healthy proportion of dry vermouth. I tend to think that a Martini made with vodka is a waste of time, but I’m not going to say you’re wrong for having one. Just don’t expect me to serve you one. Until recently, the national trend had been to dry the poor thing out to the point where it was no longer proper to call it a cocktail at all. But it doesn’t matter how cold you make it, a glass of gin will never be a cocktail (Just because Churchill did it, doesn’t make it right). Thus, a Martini must contain vermouth in more than vestigial quantity. Bitters are a nice addition too, if you have them on hand. As to garnishes, I used to be dedicated to the olive but find that as I age, a large twist of lemon peel is much more refreshing.

There is a never-ending but generally amicable argument on the subject of the “right”way to mix a Martini: shaking or stirring. I have lost track of the arguments for and against; I have enjoyed my Martini both ways; and in the end, I don’t think it matters. However, there is one objective truth underlying the debate, which bears mentioning: Ordering a Martini “Shaken, not stirred” does not make you a badass; it just makes you a douchebag. However you choose to do it, there is something soothing in the simple ceremony of mixing and consuming a Martini: the clink of the ice and gurgle of gin, the delicate frost on a chilled glass, the first transfiguring sip. It’s a bit like a Japanese tea ceremony, if Hemingway had been had been Japanese.

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 12:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Definitions, or What I mean when I say…

COCKTAIL: A beverage, composed of two or more ingredients, at least one of which contains ethanol.

MARTINI: A cocktail containing gin and dry vermouth, served cold without ice. Frequently garnished with an olive or twist. Sometimes contains bitters.

More definitions to follow, particularly as different kinds of cocktails are mentioned and discussed.

Published in: on June 8, 2011 at 12:55 am  Comments (1)