Seems like there isn’t much happening around the world worth getting excited enough to blog about. Well, not absolutely true – there is this story about crazies in Mumbai getting excited about drinking ‘sweet sea-water‘ ! As I mentioned in a comment on Patrix’s blog, this event may actually qualify as the first ever presentation of Darwin Awards to a whole mass of people!
But ’tis a weekend, so thoughts of drinking must switch to much more pleasant and palatable liquids. Of course, talking about the alchoholic stuff here. Don’t want to meet the fate of Buffy Struggles – friend of Galahad Threepwood don’t you know (non Wodehouse fans step aside for a moment) ! So here goes some unsolicited advice 1.
(These recommendations are with an eye towards the pocket as well – as a graduate student or a post-doc, I have to be careful with budgets and such)
As regular readers might know, I am pretty fond of a martini in the evening. I would be understating it if I said there is a bit of controversy over what consitutes a ‘martini’. Purists insist that a martini should consist only of gin, vermouth, perhaps bitters, along with granishings such as olives, onions and/or twist of lemon peel. A mixed drink made with vodka and other ingredients – often described in lengthy menus (and IMO often going to ridiculous extents in terms of ingredients) at various bars – should technically be called ‘vodkatini’ or simply a cocktail. However, we shall tackle that in another post.
For now, here is how I personally enjoy my pre-dinner martini, made preferably with Bombay Sapphire Gin. For perfect enjoyment, both the gin and the martini glass should be pre-chilled (an easy way to chill your glass is by putting crushed ice and soda in it while preparing the drink). The ‘dryness’ of the martini is a matter of personal taste and depends on how much vermouth you add. As the story goes, Winston Churchill, one of the famous martini lovers liked his so dry that he simply glanced at the bottle of vermouth from across the room (other versions of such apocryphal stories has him glancing in the direction of France – birthplace of vermouth), while pouring the drink. Other mere mortals often use a perfume mister to spray a dash of vermouth over the drink.
As for myself, I usually pour a quarter-cap worth measure of the vermouth – throw it into a glass mixer filled with ice. Swirl around a bit so that the vermouth mixes with the ice and coats the inner glass wall – then quickly strain it away. Add the gin – stir a bit with a bar-stirrer 2, drain into that pre-chilled glass. Add two olives. Enjoy.
Now if vodka is your choice of poison and/or you want to be more adventerous and/or feel the need for a more colorful drink – here is a cocktail that I concoted – it isn’t absolutely original – but I have tweaked around a bit. As with gin, both the vodka and the glass should be absolutely chilled. Take about 4-5 parts of vodka (Ketel-one, Friz and Ciroc are the ones I have tried), 1-2 parts Cointreau, 1/2 part Hpnotiq liqueur (or some brandy in a pinch), 1/2 part Rose’s Sweet Lime juice, dash of Blue curacao and plenty of ice in a shaker. Shake – give it a nice wristy motion – strain into pre-chilled glass. Add one or two marchiano cherrys and a bit of the cherry syrup for a good measure (especially if you like it sweet). The red color of the syrup will settle at the bottom providing a red and blue drink – pleasing both to the visual and taste sensors.
A martini does not really cut it as an after-dinner drink. If you are having sweet deserts, best to grab a bottle of 10 year old Vintage Tawny Port (Sandeman should be good) . Or try freshly brewed coffee with dollops of Kahlua or Irish Cream liqueur (chocolate shavings and/or whipped cream on top will make it extra decadent 😉 ).
If you find yourself at a bar after dinner or without deserts, single-malt scotch is the way to go. Unfortunately, the real good quality scotch does not come cheap – I keep a small (read cheapest) bottle of 12-year old Glenlivet at home for when the mood strikes. Last year I got a bottle of 12-year Glenfiddich as a gift – so that helps. But lately, I have been getting into Bourbons. Some really good quality bourbon whiskey is available at moderate prices – particularly the Woodford Reserve. Since it is getting to be time for me to mix that first martini of the evening, I shall come back to the subject of bourbons another day. Till then – cheers and of course drink responsibly. And do share your favorite drinks.
1. Now remember, I am not an expert in either mixing drinks or on wines and ports and stuff. Everything mentioned here is from my experience of trying various alchohols. Dictates of economics and some concern for the size of my liver means that the experience was not limitless. Still I believe I have had a wide enough variety in the last eight to ten years to form some opinions. Comments on
other drinks worth sipping are most welcome !
2. Stir v/s shaken is obviously the other controversial element in the making of the martini. Some people insist that shaking bruises the gin, especially if it happens to be a high quality one. I haven’t found too much of a difference in taste other than more shards of ice in my shaken drink – but I stir anyway.