Warning: Heather got out of the kitchen and made some cocktails. This means the following blog is written with less cocktail expertise then when Will writes it. Explanations of ice usage and shaking methods might be a little more elementary then usual. Just smile at her and nod.
Will's been a bit busy lately. There's been some late nights at work, we've had some nights out with friends, and as a result his cocktail shaker has been looking a little sad and lonely. This past weekend with Will working and my adored Stef in town, we were short two pre-dinner drinks. I stared at the shaker suspiciously. It's not that I've never made cocktails before, I have. It's just, I was in college. Or at best in the middle of an internship. The "cocktails" I made then tending to involve thinks like soda, various shanaps, and tons of cranberry juice. Then I met Will and we've had an understanding with our grown up existence: I make fantastic food, and I never want for Gimlets and Manhattans. I haven't stooped to mixing a Midori Sour in years. Besides that, Stef and I are totally nerds for the early literary drinkers, and if Dorothy Parker didn't drink it, we're not all that interested. And why mess around, I thought, why not bring out the big guns, the classic cocktail. Two Martini's coming up.
Martini, a cocktail made up of two ingredients and a garnish, is actually more complicated then it sounds. As Will talked about when blogging about our Christmas Cocktail Party, there is the option of vodka or gin, there is the option of shaking or stirring, and there are the garnishes of olive, twist, or even cocktail onions. According the Savoy Cocktail book, our go to for drinks of the 1920's varitey, depending on whether you were making a dry or sweet martini you would pick Italian or French vermouth. As all we had in stock was Martini and Rossi, dry martini's it was.
"We could just have wine," Stef said, as we started yet another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But by this point I was determined. I was a grown, capable woman, the type who could bake an egg and roll her own pasta. I could make a damn cocktail. Hell, I could make a damn cocktail while wearing stilettos thank you very much. This may have resulted in much giggling and me actually wearing stilettos while fixing the drinks. God bless girls weekend.
Stef and I had varying tastes. I am a fan of extremely chilled vodka, Stef prefers the more potent flavor of gin. We agree on the superiority of twists over olives. Cutting my twist created a few freaky curls of lemon peel, but a video from CHOW helped things along.
One recipe called for whacking the ice with a spoon before dropping it into the shaker. I'm not sure entirely why one does this, but I've seen bartenders in places fairly serious about their cocktails do it. And I was a serious sophisticated woman. In heels. And that "THWACK" makes a great sound. I considered the less James Bond approach of stirring the drinks, but if I was going to be teetering around my apartment in heels, shaking was the much more fun options. Advice from The Modern Girl's Guide to Life (a book that was a lifesaver when I was 23 and didn't know how to make a basic cream sauce or get a stain out) said that a martini should be shaken for at least 10 seconds. A Rachel Maddow video for Grub Street I had seen instructed that when one was shaking a cocktail, it should be shaken until it makes your hands hurt a bit from the cold, and then given a few shakes more. This also made a very satisfying sound.
Shaken Martini with a Twist for Confident, Fabulous Women
Ingredients:-2 oz chilled vodka or gin-A dash of vermouth-Twist of Lemon Peel
Directions:Take each ice cube and give it a whack with a tablespoon, breaking it into somewhat smaller pieces. Place the ice in a shaker and add the liquor of choice and the vermouth. Shake sharply until just past the hurting point, and strain into martini glass. Drop lemon peel into glass. Serve.
Again, variations are ubiquitous, shunned in some circles, embraced in others. But if you are a confident, fabulous woman, make what you want and screw the naysayers. You probably look better in your shoes then they do anyway.