Thursday Night Loaded: The Problem With Vodka, Part One

Here’s the thing: Despite what I may have suggested in earlier posts, I don’t hate vodka. But I do resent it.

What can I say? When taken side by side, a shot of Smirnoff and a shot of Beefeater, the gin is a more compelling spirit. It lays hold of the senses, sends them off to explore the juniper forest, elephant guns at the ready. The vodka, on the other hand, simply goes down. Served cold (as it must be), it’s as featureless and desolate as the prairies in winter. And there’s a good reason for that. Let’s let Thomas Mario explain:

By federal definition, vodka must be so treated “as to be without distinctive character, aroma or taste.”

Later on in his Playboy’s Host and Bar Book (1971), he continues:

Vodkamen have two ways of eradicating flavor. The first is to distill it with such artful care that only the smoothest, purest fraction of spirits from the still is accepted for vodka; the balance of the run is rejected. The second is a finishing process wherein the liquor is sent through columns of charcoal until it emerges clean, satiny and as tasteless as technology can make it.

Leached of flavour. Sterile. Neutral. Subtle to the point of being inconspicuous. Vodka is the beige of spirits — a damning label to lay on anything. Despite this, in any liquor store you visit, vodkas will occupy an entire wall. Gin, on the other hand, will be lucky if it’s granted a couple thin shelves.

As a gin fancier, therein lies the source of my resentment.

Continue reading “Thursday Night Loaded: The Problem With Vodka, Part One”

Thursday Night Loaded: Cough Cough

I’m ill. Not seriously. Not yet, anyway. Runny nose. Headache. Sore throat. Gloomy outlook. Shouldn’t be surprised, really. I was warned about this. My daughter started school last week and children are filthy. She was bound to drag some pestilence home with her.

In casting about for relief, I recalled a home remedy my long-dead Nana would brew for me when I was a wee tot. I’ve given it a go, feel slightly improved and as flu season is impending, I thought I’d share it with you….

Nana’s Sore Throat Remedy
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tbsp honey
1/2 oz Canadian whisky
Combine in a heavy mug. Fill with hot water.

As you can see, I’ve come by my interest in cocktails honestly (whatever that turn of phrase means exactly) as the nostrum administered me by my dear Nana is, in fact, a Hot Whisky Toddy.

A weak one, I grant you, but I would have been five.

I phoned up my father to verify that I remembered this correctly and he assured me that, yes indeed, Nana regularly administered honeyed Crown Royal to her ill grandchildren. More: he noted that my mother actually cleared this with our family physician. “Whisky’s the best thing for a sore throat,” she was told.

Ah, the seventies. It was a different time. I’m sure Ol’ Doc Fisher was sloshed when he imparted that pearl of medical wisdom.

Now, if you will excuse me, I feel a cough coming on. I’d best do something about that.

Thursday Night Loaded: Sourness Over Pisco

Pisco is a peculiar spirit. Distilled from grapes, it’s technically a brandy but it’s colourless and tastes quite different from what you’d generally expect from something with that name. I’ve only tried two brands — in some parts of the world there’s a vast array of piscos to choose from — but I find it tastes a little cleaner and has a more wholesome fruitiness to it than, say, a Courvoisier or Remy Martin. Mind you, I confess my palate isn’t especially discerning and were you to blindfold me and wave a bottle of pisco under my nose (saucy girl) I’d probably just call it brandy.

Pisco is made in only two countries, Peru and Chile, making it something of an exotic liquor and as a result it hasn’t always been so easy to come by in Canada. Fortunately, it’s coming back into fashion and that means you can enjoy….

The Pisco Sour
2 oz pisco
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
egg white
Dry shake to emulsify the egg white. Add ice then shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass (or pisco glass if you have one). Sprinkle a few drops of Angostura Bitters onto the cocktail’s surface.

The recipe above I’ve taken from Robert Hess, author of The Essential Bartender’s Guide and one of the founders of the Chanticleer Society and the Museum of American Cocktails. He’s an advocate for lime in a Pisco Sour and this runs counter to what I’ve read in other bar guides.

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Thursday Night Loaded: Blue Comfort For Summer’s End

Labour Day is looming. School’s back in session. Summer is winding down. And while the lifestyle mags in my grocery store are recommending flamboyant coolers for the long weekend, trotting out their endless variations on the mojito, the sangria, the margarita, I rebel.

The waning of the warm season always leaves me a bit moody.

Tonight, I need something safer than a Basil Cucumber Rickey, a Black Pepper and Strawberry Rum Frappé. Something leaning just a tad to the sad side.

Something a little blue….

Blue Angel
1/2 oz brandy
1/2 oz blue curaçao
1/2 oz Parfait Amour
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz cream
Shake well with ice and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.

Bring this out at a cocktail party and expect more than a few comments on the colour. That powder blue is achieved through the admixture of Parfait Amour, blue curaçao and cream.

We covered Parfait Amour in an earlier column but blue curaçao is worth a mention because it’s an often maligned liqueur — and perhaps with some reason. Even though it is merely an orange-flavoured spirit not unlike triple sec or Cointreau, whenever I’ve hauled it out for use in drinks, anyone who samples it refers to it as something along the lines of florescent Kool-aid or windshield washer fluid. Certainly, I’ve always felt it has a more astringent or artificial flavour than some of its cousin spirits. But I can’t say if it’s actually the chemical dye offending my tongue or if it’s rather the taste-centres in my brain revolting at the prospect of having to process something coloured such an unnatural shade.

Certainly, between the curaçao and the lemon juice, there lurks in this cocktail a certain amount of tang. But thanks to the cream’s mellowing influence, what could have been an unpleasantly tart cocktail is smoothed out and becomes dreamlike. The citrus becomes a distant flavour. The Parfait Amour’s floral notes become faint. In fact, there is something rather insubstantial about the Blue Angel. As though it’s merely a cocktail ghost, trapped by proton throwers and reconstituted in a glass. A fitting drink for a dying season.

Farewell, summer 2010. I feel like I barely got to know you.

Thursday Night Loaded: Rescued From A Sunny Patio’s Loving Embrace

You know this is going to happen sooner or later, this being a column entitled “Thursday Night Loaded,” after all: I’m going to go out some Thursday night, get loaded and completely forget about writing this column. It very nearly happened tonight as I went to the prairie dog office for a writers’ meeting this afternoon, the falling action of which played out on the O’Hanlon’s patio…

“What day is it?”


“Oh shit. I don’t have anything written for Thursday Night Loaded.”

An actual quote from earlier. Now, at that point, I confess I didn’t even have an idea of what I would write this week and if I hadn’t the willpower to tear myself away from that patio, I wouldn’t have written anything at all. More: if an idea hadn’t presented itself to me while there, I’d likely still be on that patio.

Here’s how it goes.

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Thursday Night Loaded: That Egg Problem

One of my fellow prairie dog scribes, Aidan Morgan, wondered in an earlier post (part of his excellent series on the evolution of the Drunken Lime) if whether the inclusion of egg white in cocktail recipes was evidence of a sadistic impulse among bartenders. A pair of commenters (myself being one) offered examples of eggs in action and this led Aidan to remark, “Looks like egg whites are an accepted part of a healthy drunkmaker.”

Part of, yes. Accepted? Not really. Even though some egg-based drinks have become more popular of late — most notably, the Pisco Sour — there is still much public distrust of such concoctions. Whether out of disgust at egg white’s mucal texture or fears of a raw poultry product going off in the time it takes to mix, serve and swallow any drink it inhabits, it seems likely egg will remain an ingredient on the drinking fringe.

And that’s too bad because egg white has a lot to offer the open-minded alcoholonaut. It smooths out a cocktail’s flavours, mellowing even the most merciless of spirits. The foam it forms when properly shaken adds a pleasing texture to a drink’s surface, one that endures all the way through to its terminal sips.

An ingredient worthy of a defence, so I will write, therefore, of the dreaded egg….

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Thursday Night Loaded: A Correction With Beer Chaser

I had intended that tonight’s article would be about the uses of egg whites and the mysteries of Pisco brandy but I just don’t have pep enough in me for anything that involved. See, technically, I’m on holiday in Edmonton and I wasn’t smart enough to have a couple back up columns in the can for situations like this one.

There is, however, one loose end I didn’t get to last week so I’ll deal with it now.

In our Drink! feature, I mentioned in my piece on how to stock a home bar that you would need an añejo tequila for use in margaritas. Well, Dylan, the Fainting Goat’s bar manager, wrote in to say….

Never use anejo tequila in a marg.  A good silver 100% agave will do. The oak notes interfere with the pure flavours of orange, agave and lime.

Ahem. Well. Yes. Look, I have to confess, my relationship with tequila is…. fraught. It tastes too much of midwinter bush parties on the Alberta prairie and broken finger, if you must know.

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Thursday Night Loaded: Loose Ends That Need Tying

I’m just arrived in Oil Country so this will have to be a short installment of Thursday Night Loaded. Fortunately, there are several loose ends from previous posts and some comments I’ve left unanswered, so I’ll get to all those right now.

SUMMER OF PIMM’S UPDATE ONE: Some of you may recall that I declared the Pimm’s Cup the Official Mixed Drink of Summer 2010 in Regina. I’ve been doing my part by introducing most everyone who’s been over to my house to this fine summer cooler. Interestingly, on my last visit to the South Albert liquor store, I noticed that they have only three bottles of Pimm’s No. 1 left (scratch that, two bottles, once I departed). That’s down from a full complement of 12 when I made my first purchase of the summer. Now, as much as I wish they could, my purchases alone cannot account for this dramatic decline in Pimm’s stores. And while I’d like to think promoting Pimm’s on this blog is driving up sales, I doubt that very much. Regardless, Regina is getting into the spirit of the Summer of Pimm’s whether it knows it or not and that means Pimm’s is in no way an endangered drink. In fact, I hear the SLGA will be bringing more in.

SUMMER OF PIMM’S UPDATE TWO: I mentioned in “More Pimm’s Cup, Please” that I had come across a couple other mixed drinks that call for Pimm’s No. 1 (the Old Hall and the Harvard Special) and that once I’d tried them I’d report back. Well, a lack of Rose’s Lime Cordial has kept me from tasting the Old Hall but I picked up a bottle of Galliano not too long ago and gave the Harvard Special a try. Have to say, it didn’t knock me out. Generally, I find tall drinks underwhelming — the Pimm’s Cup, the Gin and Tonic (with a decent gin), the Tom Collins (properly prepared) and a couple others aside. In this case, the addition of the Galliano just tipped the sweetness over the top. And I found the vanilla flavour overpowered everything — both the ginger in the Ginger Ale and the delightful tannininess of the Pimm’s. The drink came off rather like a fancy vanilla bean soda pop and not much else. If I were to make another, I might swap the Ginger Ale for Ginger Beer. Or maybe, halve the Galliano. Or, maybe I’ll just leave the Harvard Special behind and mix a proper Pimm’s Cup instead. It is the Official Mixed Drink of Summer 2010 in Regina, after all.

Whoops. Tried to keep this short and failed. Well, quinine, Lillet and comments after the jump….

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Thursday Night Loaded: Saskatchewan Has Perfect Love

In our Drink! issue, in the piece on stocking a home bar, I included a bottle of something called Parfait Amour. It’s a purple liqueur flavoured with a blend of oranges, vanilla, rose petals and almond. If your experience of liqueurs has until now been limited to Kahlua, Bailey’s and Triple Sec, prepare to be dazzled. Parfait Amour was popular in the 19th century and has a peculiar yet delightful floral flavour. Tastes have changed and it has fallen out of favour and as a result in many parts of the country it can be difficult to find.

But not in Saskatchewan. For reasons unknown to me, our province’s liquor stores are well-stocked with this regal beverage.

And that’s a good thing because it’s an essential ingredient in this cocktail….

The Jupiter
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz orange juice
1/4 oz parfait amour
Shake well with ice. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.

The Jupiter dates to 1923 when it appeared in Harry McElhone’s, Harry of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails. According to Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, one must be sure to measure the ingredients carefully as the parfait amour can easily overpower any drink. Haigh describes its effect on a cocktail this way:

Who would have thought this demure cordial would be so bossy? Parfait Amour, like the more flagrant absinthe and pastis, would, with a heavy pour, absolutely take over a drink — and not in a good way. I love the stuff, but then I know it’s a machine gun; I don’t aim it just anywhere and I squeeze the trigger very, very carefully.

But then, considering that the name translates as Perfect Love, is it any wonder that a mere drop would be so potent?

Thursday Night Loaded: Secret Agents And Lillet Blanc

Of all the drink orders in the world, probably the most famous is James Bond’s “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred.” In the public’s memory, this one cocktail has eclipsed all the master spy’s other drinking. But, through books and films, Stingers, Old-Fashioneds, Americanos, Black Velvets, Scotches with soda and even a Negroni (consumed once in the short story, Risico) have fortified Bond for the kill. In his first adventure, Casino Royale, he reveals that he has even invented his own cocktail….

Bond insisted on ordering Leiter’s Haig-and-Haig “on the rocks” and then he looked carefully at the barman.

“A dry martini,” he said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”

“Oui, monsieur.”

“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”

“Certainly, monsieur.” The barman seemed pleasant with the idea.

“Gosh that’s certainly a drink,” said Leiter.

Bond laughed. “When I’m … er … concentrating,” he explained, “I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I can think of a good name.”

He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip.

“Excellent,” he said to the barman, “but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.”

By the midpoint of the novel, he has dubbed this the Vesper after fellow secret agent Vesper Lynd. By the end, she has committed suicide and he never touches this cocktail again.

The Kina Lillet in the recipe is the Lillet Blanc which was discussed in last week’s column — sort of. I didn’t get into it then, but Kina Lillet was renamed Lillet Blanc in the 60s and then in 1987 it was reformulated — I assume to bring it in line with a common palate deadened by relentless exposure to soft drinks. This new Lillet was fruitier and considerably less sharp, its revamped taste achieved by dropping the amount of quinine in the mix. (I’ve read some accounts claiming the quinine was removed entirely.)

End result: a Lillet with much of it’s bitterness removed.

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Thursday Night Loaded: Special Order For The Corpse Reviver

Once you start browsing through vintage cocktail manuals, one of the great frustrations you come upon is the number of curious concoctions one cannot concoct on account of the unavailability of one ingredient or another.

Take for instance this enticing number….

Corpse Reviver #2
3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz triple sec
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
2 drops Pernod
Shake well with ice. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.

Among internet cocktail scribes (those who contribute to the booze blog-o-sphere — a.k.a. the blogging booze-o-sphere), this is a highly regarded beverage, it’s fame due in large part, I suspect, to Ted Haigh (a.k.a. Dr Cocktail) and his book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails (which I highly, though parenthetically, recommend). Of the Corpse Reviver, Haigh writes,

Here is a drink that, more than any other, shows just what delicate chemists golden era bartenders often were. Not only is the drink beautiful to look at, every single ingredient shines through individually in each sip. The combination is harmonious; it’s a slice of perfection.

How could you read this and not want to mix one immediately? Unfortunately, upon visiting any liquor store you’ll quickly discover why this has become a nearly forgotten cocktail: Lillet Blanc.

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Thursday Night Loaded: The Whiskey Sour Dilution

A bit of trivia about Pimm’s No. 1 (the primary constituent of the Pimm’s Cup, which I’ve declared the Official Drink of Summer in Regina 2010): it’s widely considered a pre-mixed cocktail.

(Now, if you want to split hairs — and I generally do, especially where liquor is concerned — it’s technically a “fruit cup”, but now is not the time for that conversation.)

You see, Pimm’s is a mix of gin, fruit juices, spices and herbs. It’s a mixed drink in a bottle and I typically eschew such things. But for Pimm’s, I make an exception because it dates to the early 19th century so it has some tradition behind it. What can I say? I’m suspicious of drinks that haven’t proven themselves across a few generations.

And I’m especially suspicious of beverages that seem designed solely to sucker lazy or inexpert drinkers.

Case in point: Bartender Secrets Whiskey Sour. I stumbled upon this obnoxious little number on my last visit to the SLGA. It was on the pre-mixed cocktail rack, wedged between the Pomegranate Martini In A Bag and the Dr Cockblocker’s Screaming Tequila Margarita To Go or some other such madness.

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Thursday Night Loaded: All Hail Bloody Caesar!

Canada Day 2010 comes mere days after our Calgary-educated Prime Minister made like some bloody Caesar in his handling of the G8 protests. What better way to celebrate then than with a drink from out of Calgary called the Bloody Caesar?

Bloody Caesar
6 oz clamato juice
1 1/2 oz vodka
2-5 dashes Tabasco Sauce
2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
celery salt
fresh ground pepper
lime wedge
celery stalk
Rim edge of highball glass with lime wedge then with celery salt. Fill glass with ice then add vodka and clamato. Season with Tabasco, Worcestershire and pepper. Stir and garnish with celery stalk.

The story goes that this, Canada’s most beloved cocktail, was invented by bartender Walter Chell at the Calgary Inn in 1969. He was casting about for a drink to go with Mediterranean food and found inspiration in Spaghetti alle vongole, that being spaghetti with tomato and clams.

Thing is, even though Wikipedia follows the line that the Caesar was born north of the 49th, it wasn’t. Squeezing some clam juice into a Bloody Mary was a New York bartender trick that predated Chell’s Caesar by decades. In fact, down south, our beloved national cocktail, while not nearly as popular as it is here, is often referred to as a clamdigger.

Be that as it may, we Canucks guzzle our Bloody Caesars as though they were promises of more tax cuts. “Pour me another, bartender, and damn the consequences!”  And our affection for the red stuff has become a source of bafflement for the drinkers of other nations.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the Bloody Caesar. I just don’t understand how it has come to be regarded as our national drink when there’s nothing especially Canadian about it. I mean, if it’s going to contain seafood, for crying out loud, couldn’t we at least replace the clam juice with cod squeezings?

Or maybe it’s time to toss the drink entirely and start casting about for something that better represents us. Of course, I think that’s just about as likely as our swapping out that other bloody Caesar any time soon. Still, one can hope.

Happy Canada Day!

Thursday Night Loaded: More Pimm’s Cup, Please

I wrote about the Pimm’s Cup in this issue’s feature, 43 Things To Do This Summer. (It came in at number 20: Preserve an Endangered Drink).

The hundred and seventy words or so on the subject I managed to sneak past gin- (and its derivatives) hating Whitworth weren’t quite enough to cover all I have to say on the subject so, seeing as I’m declaring the Pimm’s Cup the Official Drink of Summer in Regina 2010 (I trust you received an invitation to the declaration ceremony?), I thought I’d revisit it in this, the first post-solstice Thursday Night Loaded.

For ease of reference, here’s the Pimm’s Cup recipe that appeared in the summer feature:

To prepare one, in the bottom of a collin’s glass, muddle a mint leaf with a slice of cucumber then pour in two ounces of Pimm’s No 1. Next, pile on alternating layers of ice cubes and cucumber slices then fill the glass with lemon-lime soda. Top with a sprig of mint.

Pictured in the top right is my first Pimm’s Cup of the season. This method of preparation with its layering of ice with vegetal matter comes courtesy a friend from the UK who first introduced me to the drink. And while, yes, all the fuss in the kitchen does take a great deal of effort, there are few things in this life more worth the trouble than introducing a little cucumber into your Pimm’s No. 1.

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Thursday Night Loaded: Lemons, Hoaxes And The Tom Collins

This will be the last column for a while that focuses on gin drinks, I swear. In fact, I chose tonight’s refreshment for two reasons. First, because thanks to its many variations, it makes a nice segue to other beverages based on other spirits. And second, because for a few brief hours this week, it looked like summer might actually arrive on time and once the sun breaks through to parch this prairie, it’ll be time to skip to the back of the bar guide and crack the chapter entitled “Tall Drinks”.

So let’s forget for a moment that the sun has cruelly abandoned us and consider one of the most enduring of summer coolers….

2 oz gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
2 tsp extra fine sugar
club soda
Shake gin, sugar and lemon juice well with ice. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with soda. Garnish with lemon slice and/or orange slice and/or maraschino cherry.

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Thursday Night Loaded: On Drinking Alone

Drinking alone, especially out in public at a bar, is one of those endeavours that nowadays carries with it an air of pure menace. It’s seen as an activity engaged in only by those on the downward slope towards alcoholism.

And yet, I recall a friend in grad school who drank alone quite often. He would take a book out with him, sit at a bar and work his way through some slab of Marxist critical theory while drinking whisky. You needed to be half cut to understand the stuff, he argued.

Today, he’s a well-regarded academic at one of our nation’s finest universities.

See. Drinking, even in seclusion, does not inevitably lead to ruin.

Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of saddling up to a bar, drinking on one’s own — just you, a cocktail and a barkeep — but I’ve never really done it myself. So, I got this idea in my head that for Thursday Night Loaded number four, I’d give it a go.

Turns out, in this case, it was a very bad idea.

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Thursday Night Loaded: Gin

I had hoped with today’s column to write the definitive online defense of gin, that most maligned of spirits. It would have been a distillation of its history, an enumeration of the many joys it offers. More than a mere blog post, it would have been a panegyric.

I even considered writing it in heroic couplets.

But I’ve neither time nor talent for such an undertaking. Instead, I’ll relate an anecdote.

Now, as I mentioned in the Thursday Night Loaded on martinis, my current favourite gin is Hendrick’s. It’s marvellous. It tastes predominantly of juniper, as every gin should, but there are also hints of rose petals and cucumber. It’s neither oily nor harsh. It’s bright, refreshing, and floral.

Everything I could hope for.

(And here’s a tip lifted right off the label, in a martini or a gin and tonic, swap out the traditional garnish — olive or lemon twist in the former, lemon wedge in the latter — for a slice or two of cucumber. I kid you not, the effect is kind of magical. Everything that makes Hendrick’s special is made moreso with the addition of cucumber’s subtle aroma.)

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Thursday Night Loaded: Shaken Or Stirred?

On the subject of shaking versus stirring a cocktail, the standard line is this: drinks involving fruit juices, eggs or syrups must be shaken; those containing liquor and vermouth should only ever be stirred.

However, in the mixing of drinks, as in any of life’s pursuits, there are those who would flaunt the rules. But before we delve into this controversy, let’s take a minute to examine the role either stirring or shaking plays in the making of a cocktail.

There are, of course, two main and obvious purposes: mixing and chilling. You would not have much of a mixed drink if you simply allowed its constituent elements to sit in the glass layered like the pages of an abandoned manuscript. Like wind through a study window, the action of shaker or bar spoon invigorates the liquors, swirls them to life.

Also, a cocktail — and this cannot be stressed enough — must be glacially cold and to achieve this it must inevitably come in contact with ice.

Now, there are those who would dispute the necessity of ice, saying it’s unmanly to risk weakening one’s spirits by mingling them with melt water. I’ve acquaintances who will keep their liquors in a deep freeze then blend these sub-zero liquids into truly potent concoctions and admittedly, handing out raw slugs of frigid booze to your guests can liven a room up quite quickly. Too often, though, with so much raw spirit on the loose, an evening’s frolics will come to an early — possibly tear-stained — end.

Thing is, dilution is essential to a cocktail as it smooths out the flavours and reduces the potency just enough so that a number of drinks may be enjoyed before inebriation works its mischeif on the senses.

In fact, Thomas Mario (who, you will find, I refer to often) advises that two to two-and-a-half ounces of liquor poured into a shaker should grow to four ounces when poured into a glass.

That seems like rather a lot of water — a touch too much for my taste — but let’s allow it to flow under the bridge and tackle now the question of stirring over shaking.

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Thursday Night Loaded: The Martini

This is the premier post in what I hope will be a series on cocktails, spirits and the inebriate arts. I was going to kick it off last Thursday, that being the final day of International Cocktail Week. But as these things go, an Alamagoozlum led to a Bronx with Bitters that led to a Corpse Reviver and a Derby. Somewhere round about the Gibson, all thoughts of writing had vanished.

Here we are, a week later, and it seems only appropriate to focus this first installment on that most iconic of cocktails: The Martini….

2oz Gin
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
Lemon Twist or Olive

Stir gin and vermouth well with ice. Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist or olive.

Of the martini, historian Bernard DeVoto wrote, “It is the supreme gift of American culture to the world,” while H.L. Mencken famously called it, “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” No other cocktail is as famous. None as storied. Indeed, it has become so prominent among mixed drinks that the word martini has all but replaced cocktail in the lexicon of drinking.

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