Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: a Martini or a Martinez ... or a Golf Cocktail?

At risk of repeating ourselves, and as we have recently noted (and not that it takes any saying so from us) the Martini is the preeminent classic cocktail.

It's certainly one of the most storied drinks, and a drink whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Let's explore that a little bit. First, the classic recipe, with some commentary:

Okay, so there was this place called "Martinez, California" -- other versions say the bartender was a guy named Martinez. Sometimes, the bar patron is a guy named Martinez. Who knows -- it wasn't exactly well documented.
But, the idea is that a Martini is gin (or, nowadays, vodka) with dry vermouth, right? And, the drier, the better, right? What do you make of this, then:

This is a recipe from an old Mohawk liquor recipe booklet of uncertain origins, but probably circa the 1930s. It bears noting that "Italian" vermouth is the same as sweet vermouth (dry vermouth is "French"). So, not only do the proportions of this recipe (2:1) make for a wet drink, it's made with sweet vermouth. Not your daddy's Martini, is it? And the bitters are an ingredient from left field.
What this is, actually, is kind of a Martini recipe with vestiges of its ancient evolution from a drink called a Martinez. The Martinez actually has the proportions of the sweet vermouth and gin reversed; the vermouth was the dominant ingredient, and the gin is the minority contributor. Also, a Martinez has bitters (just like this Martini) and also adds a "dash" of maraschino liqueur (which this Martini recipe has lost).
A Martinez is actually a good drink -- but keep the gin as the dominant ingredient -- there's a reason why the vermouth-based idea never caught on: it sucks.
But, from the same booklet, check out this drink:
Now, except for the bitters, this is a "wet" Martini (meaning that it's a 2:1 ratio of the gin and vermouth -- not at all aridly dry, as fashions have come to demand).
Frankly, we don't know what ever happened to the Golf cocktail, or if it was ever very popular. Why not give it a try next time you order a Martini?

Of course, one of the amazing things about a Martini is the utter clarity of the drink, frigid and cold, with the oils of the olive shimmering on the surface. Simply gorgeous. A Martinez, with the sweet vermouth, looses that simplicity and starkness. But, with it's reddish color -- maybe kind of like the clay in Martinez, California? -- it has its own elegance.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28 in Rogers Park History

The Michael Cudahy Science Hall at Loyola University was dedicated on April 28, 1912

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Night Happy Hour: Southern Comfort's "Barmate"

How many home bartenders have you met who look like this?
This is the cover of a recipe booklet printed by Southern Comfort in 1964.
They were obviously trying to latch onto the Playboy "philosophy"

So, what's on the menu for this cocktail soiree?
How about a cold toddy?!

A little soft music . . . some ambiance . . . tonight is going to be kind of special.

Oh, and that key? Toss it in the bowl. You aren't driving anywhere tonight!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22 in Rogers Park History

The Village of Rogers Park was incorporated on April 22, 1878. Later, Rogers Park was annexed to the City of Chicago on April 4, 1893.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: the Martini

The Martini is, of course, the classic cocktail.

Who drinks a Martini?

Cheers, Tiger!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: a toast to George & Ethel

Not long ago, we were at an estate sale and came across an old cocktail recipe booklet. These are always fun to add to the collection of cocktail and happy hour paraphernalia. This one was published in 1953.

This is the same booklet from which we drew the "Happy Birthday" drink post featured recently.

This particular booklet had a special surprise, though, because tucked into it was a small piece of paper reading .....

Probably family friends? A couple that came over for canasta or bridge? This estate sale happened to be a family-run sale, and we were almost tempted to ask them if they knew who George and Ethel were. But, we didn't want to take the chance that someone might get suddenly sentimental and tell us, "oh, that's not for sale." On the other hand, maybe we could have gotten a good story. Well, we'll have to imagine.

On the other side was the recipe:

I can picture Ethel drinking this, but George? This is one of those "nips from Grandma's liquor cabinet" we've featured from time to time.

It's a Brandy Alexander.

I like that they were brand loyal on the creme de cacao (DuBouchett) but went their own way on the brandy.

"What'll you have, George and Ethel?"

"Make it the usual"

Here's to you, George and Ethel!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: some R&R after the Easter egg hunt

Now, here's an Easter brunch!

This is from a booklet called The House of Seagram presents "Seasons with Spirit" A Guide to Entertaining at Home. It's not dated, but probably circa 1985 or so.
Perfect for your Easter preparations -- something for your drunk uncle, something for your grandma with the sweet tooth, and something for mom and dad to steady their nerves while the kids have the run of the house jacked up on Easter bunny chocolate. Then we can all enjoy our ham and carrots.
I think Nancy Reagan would have been proud to serve this after the Easter egg roll on the White House lawn.