April 1, 2009

Long Live the Martini!

If you invented a time machine and traveled back 5 years, you might find a young Cresencio appreciating a deliciously cold Bud Light over a Carne Asada Torta from The Red Wave Inn in Fresno, Ca. Yes, it was a simple time, a wonderful time. A time of friends, college, cheap beer, and awesome pub grub. Back then, I was a na├»ve young lad and didn’t take the time to really appreciate what else existed in the foodie/bevie world. Little did I know that half a decade later, I would be writing about my absolute love for a new favorite drink, the martini.

It was 2006 and I was getting ready to catch the latest Bond film, Casino Royale. The flick was great, but one part in particular stuck with me the most. It was a quote, the sole reason that inspired me and got me hooked on my then, latest personal discovery.

“Dry Martini…Three measures of Gordon's; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.”

Sounded like 007 had it right with his signature “Vesper” Martini.

I wanted one. I wanted one just like it. Bond’s martini. So I tried it, a modified version, but tried nonetheless. As I raised the chilled glass up to my lips and got that initial aroma of complexity, my world changed and suddenly I was in a tuxedo. There was a gun in my sock and I was the chip leader at a high stakes poker table. I shook it off and proceeded to sip. Once the coveted liquor covered my taste buds, my tuxedo slowly started to vanish, and I was back in the faded button up shirt and the Express jeans I came to the bar wearing.

I remember thinking, “Wow, that wasn’t what I was expecting. That’s not good at all.”

Determined not to give up on the martini, I decided to take it a little easier. I made up a drink that I still order to this day and would recommend to anyone - something a little more novice.

In an order that would make Daniel Craig himself jealous, I calmly ordered.

“Excuse me. Can I get a martini, 1 part Disaronno, 2 parts Goose, splash of sweet vermouth, with a twist? Up please.” (The tuxedo was DEFINATELY back on at that moment).

It was a much better martini for a novice at the time - also a martini that even a pro could have appreciated. This very drink then launched me into my latest, long standing drinkie adventure. It sent me to a new world of class and sophistication. A world where the nice guy didn’t finish last. "A world of never-ending happiness, where you can always see the sun, day or night.” Where Sinatra tunes were the soundtrack to life, and everyone was wearing evening garb.

But how can one appreciate a martini without knowing its true origin? Well that can be difficult. According to Swankmartini.com, the martini can be credited to a few long standing claims. The first, and probably most popular, revolves around the city of Martinez, Ca. during the 1850s. It was there where gold prospectors ordered a drink named after the city. It contained gin, vermouth, bitters and Maraschino. Based on the ingredients, an evolution of the drink is definitely feasible. A simple tweek of the ingredients and BAM! You’ve got yourself a martini my friends.

Another theory comes out of San Francisco, from a one Jerry Thomas, bartender at the Occidental Hotel in the 19th century. Legend has it that this bartender is the rightful inventor of the famous drink, mixing gin and vermouth for his guests daily.

Nowadays, martinis come in various form. There are more choices in flavor, appearance, distinction, texture, garnishes, and price. One thing is for certain, the martini is one drink that has withstood time. In a changing alcohol culture of bartenders, sommeliers, mixologists, drinkologists, and this that and the other - along with its increasing popularity in movies, bars, and Rat Packs alike - there’s no question that the martini is the most popular drink of all time.

Don’t know where to start? I personally like to stick with a gin martini with little to no vermouth at all. A nice Sapphire, up with a twist does the trick, every time. Too simple? Most restaurants put their own spin on the martini. There is bound to be one out there that is just right for you. Just ask your local bartender. Most of them are just dying to show off their martini-making skills for you.

Cheers, Salud, Chin Chin, Prost, Salute, and Bottoms Up!


Anonymous said...

This imagery is fantastic. Martini are too strong for me, but I'm thinking about giving it another try. :)

Garrett said...

I always wanted to try that after the movie. Still do. Sad to here a bad review of it, but damn it if Daniel Craig says to do it, I will. (One of my life's rules, in fact.)

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