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Heart to heart

Heart to HeartIt occurs to us that the whole Martini phenomena has gotten out of hand. What was once an integral part of American culture was pushed aside during the late 1960s and 70s by marijuana and drinks like Harvey Wallbangers and Tequila Sunrises. Despite the current thinking that the Martini has been rediscovered by a fresh new generation, the cognoscenti have always known the pleasures of cold gin and vermouth. How did Columbus "discover" America when the Indians were already there?

The Lounge movement did a lot of good in promoting good cocktail culture, embracing the classic and wacky. With the so-called Swing revival, things couldn't be worse. We know we must sound like a broken record when we declare that what passes for Swing these days is not what previous generations have understood to be Swing. Rhythm & Blues or Jump are more appropriate. We imagine the drink of choice was gin straight out of the bottle, chased by a bottle of beer and a pigfoot. The current Swing enthusiasts embrace the Martini and because of their popularity, have changed the classic recipe.

am classic martini
Our own classic instructions for a Martini have withstood the test of time. We urge you to try this simple yet exact ritual and then experiment from there if you find yourself unsatisfied. Try increasing or decreasing the amount of vermouth. Try different brands of gin or vermouth. Try stuffed olives, Myers lemons or a drop or three of orange bitters.

am modern variations
The current trend that disturbs us the most is the "shaken, not stirred" rule. We recently were in a bar in Puerto Vallarta where the cocktail menu listed the Martini, followed by the line "of course, our martinis are shaken, not stirred." Until very recently, this was the exception, not the rule. We understand the science behind shaking. The goal is to chill the drink as fast as possible without diluting the drink. Metal is a better conductor of cold than glass and shaking the drink in a container of ice is a quicker method of chilling the drink, so on paper, the shaker makes sense. The problems are many. Metal can impart a metallic taste if the liquid is left too long in the shaker. This isn't likely at home but we've been at bars where the bartender puts all the ingredients in a shaker and leaves it on the bar. The cocktail waitress picks up the order at her leisure and then gives the shaker a half-hearted shake before pouring the drink at your table. Shaking in metal also clouds the drink, giving it a most unappealing grey look until the aerated liquid settles down. Worst of all, most bars use small or chipped ice that dilutes too quickly and small bits escape through the strainer, giving the finished drink an icy top layer that is disgusting. We find watery martinis much worse than those that use too much vermouth.

Finally, we declare that a martini is a gentle drink and that shaking is just too violent an action for such a mysterious and gossamer-like creation.

If you must shake, please insure all your beverages are already cold and the ice is substantially large to endure the violent shaking.

We have one friend who makes a fine martini by using the metal container of his shaker for stirring. It quickly chills the liquid and there are no nauseating specks of ice floating over the top.

am the goal
The goal is to have a crisp, clear shot of pleasure. It should be somewhat dry and it should be very cold. Ice water should not be an ingredient. If you find the end result just too strong or not to your liking, we gently suggest that the Martini is not your drink.

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