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Vintage Outlandish!

This Content From 2003 (or earlier) see index

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Swingin' Josh
Me with one of my favorite chemicals: an ultra-dry martini. Herein I will explain the proper means of preparing said libation.

How to mix a good Martini

I originally wrote this for someone over on kuro5hin who was planning on sampling one of these divine beverages and was worried about getting it right. My original intent was to give a quick set of pointers, but then I got going and...

The classic martini is not going to treat you very well if you don't like "dry" drinks. In case you're not an experienced drinker, I'll give you a little context.

Most mixed drinks can be tracked on a spectrum from sweet to dry, mostly based on sugar content. Ironically, most "sour" drinks (whisky sour, midouri sour) are actually pretty far over on the sweet end of the spectrum. Dry drinks include most tonics and martinis, as well as a few others.

If your mixed drink background is mostly screwdrivers and rum'n'coke, a true martini is going to hit you like a swift left hook. It has a very distinct flavor and is considered an acquired taste by most.

That being said, since you've decided to take the trip, here are my suggestions:

  1. The Gin you've chosen [s/he was working with Beefeater] is fine. They vary some from taste to taste, but any premium grand is good. Bear in mind that only fools and Earnest Hemmingway drink straight gin. Even Hemmingway would add ice.
  2. Get ice. Ice is a key ingredient in all mixed drink processes. You need it. It is not optional.
  3. Also, get good olives. The bigger and plumper the better. Spend the extra $2 for good olives and the taste is your reward.

Now, what you need to do is set up your staging ground. You will need a martini glass, your gin, your vermouth, your olives, some toothpicks, a bowl of ice, a tall (pint) glass for mixing and a fork for straining. If you have a cocktail shaker, you can use that instead of the glass and fork.

  • First put some ice in the martini glass. The glass needs to be cold.
  • Next fill the pint glass 1/2 full of ice and add a good measure of gin. If you're specific, add about 3oz.
  • With your fork GENTLY stir the ice/gin mix. Don't shake. Bond is a fool. You don't shake clear drinks: it makes them cloudy.
  • Now dump the ice out of the martini glass and add a little bit of vermouth. Swirl the vermouth around in the glass so that it coats the interior surface and then dump any excess. You're making a dry martini... you can experiment with leaving more vermouth in for taste.
  • Using the fork to strain the ice out, pour the ice/gin mix into the martini glass. This is now super-cold and just a little diluted, the way it should be.
  • Add two olives on a toothpick. Sip. Enjoy.

Variations: leave more or less vermouth in the glass to make the martini less or more dry: less vermouth = more dry. Also, try pouring in a small amount of the olive juice to make your martini "dirty". I like dry and dirty martinis with Tanqueray Malacca gin the best.

If you still don't like it, don't worry. Get some tonic and lime and have yourself a relaxed gin'n'tonic... it's impossible not to be soothed. If you still crave the class of the martini, look into the manhattan or (last resort) the cosomopolitan.

Happy drinking. Be safe. Don't drive. Drink water.

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Trips in Space and Time 8/02/03

Big Wheels in Berkeley
I scored a set of west-coast wheels today at the Ashby BART station flea market. It's a very tall schwinn road bike, black, deceptively heavy but smooth-riding. Thirty-five dollars to boot. I oiled and cleaned the works, dialed in the bakes and took it out for a shake-down cruise immediately. Nice riding on a beautiful saturday, realizing how out of shape I am as I wheezed my way though the hilly area behind the Berkeley campus.

After about an hour I started to get the swing of it. Made some minor mechanical adjustments (including a free wheel truing at the bike collective on Shattuck), drank a few liters of water and started finding my groove, cruising up and around and ending up with a beautiful view of the whole bay. The roads here are not kind to the speed inclined -- too many stop signs and crosswalks and lights -- but it was good to get out and proj for a while. This changes my summer dramatically.

...older trips...


Smother Me With
Filthy Lucre