Thursday, May 3, 2007


Here's a new Open Hockey feature that will be sure to be ignored in a few weeks: DRINKY DRINKY. It will cover everything from beer, wine and spirits, to the establishments that serve them and the people who drink them.

So what's the most e-mailed story on the New York Times website today . . . Iraq? GM? Global warming? The Yankees firing their conditioning coach because he was systematically debilitating their pitching staff? No, it's an article on martinis! It's about time. Thank you NYT, for providing information on all the booze that's fit to drink!

During my daily trips to the liquor store, it seems like another trendy gin pops up on the shelf. It's confusing, as they are from all corners of the globe and virtually in every price range. While some of them stick to the traditional juniper berry formulation, others contain botanicals such as angelica, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, lemon peel, licorice, fennel and ginger. How can you sort through dozens of different gins? I would say 'very carefully' through trial and error, the error being trying them all in one sitting.

Thankfully, there are well paid drinking professionals at the NYT to do the legwork (tonguework?) for us. They rate different gins based on the quality of the martini they make (stirred not shaken, with a 5:1 gin:vermouth ratio, no mention of olives). This being the newspaper of the liberal intelligentsia, they manage to do this in the most utterly pretentious way possible. Looking for "balance, persistence and character" their reviews say things like: "The Junipero . . . came on strong with the traditional gin flavors of juniper and citrus, hitting all the right notes, though a little self-consciously." What does that even mean? And does it say something about my personality if I drink Bombay Sapphire martinis that are "jazzy" and "neurotic"?

Cutting through the nonsense, their top gin pick: Plymouth English Gin ($17.99). Others they enjoyed were: Junipero, Cadenhead’s Old Raj ($59.99), Seagram's ($7.99), Tanqueray ($17.99), Hendrick's ($23.99), Gordon's ($8.99). My personal picks would be Bombay Sapphire ($21.99), Tanqueray and Hendrick's. I'm intrigued by the Junipero, which is made by the Anchor distillery in San Francisco, and the Cadenhead Old Raj, which is from Scotland and packs a 110 proof (!) wallop. I'm also surprised by their praise of Seagram's (they were obviously DRUNK), which is ordinary at best. I do agree with their assertation about Tanqueray Ten being a little "busy" for a martini; I've always found it better with tonic and a lime twist, as it can be distracting and boisterious, without being aggressive or cantankerous. (Two can play at that obtuse adjective game, New York Times!) Their cute descriptions of each gin are also irritating: apparently the "floral notes" in Hendrick's creates a "martini in a Hawaiian shirt". Huh? That makes me picture a drunk, red-faced Chris Berman in a club flanked by strippers, and I somehow don't see him with an elegant martini in his hand--he's more the Jager and Bud Light type.

By the way, how does one become a mixologist? What schools offer mixology degrees? Can you get a scholarship based on your drinking ability? All I know is that the NH Liquor Store (where I got the listed 750ml prices from) is going to get hit hard this weekend.

Man, I'm thirsty.

P.S. Here's a martini recipe that would probably curl the toes of the NYT snobs amidst pained cries of "Why, I never!" and "This is an outrage!", but might be perfect for this weekend's Kentucky Derby:

3/4 cup bourbon - we suggest Maker's Mark
1/4 cup Vanilla Vodka
1 teaspoon orange liqueur (good Triple Sec, or Cointreau)
1 teaspoon peppermint schnapps

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and, well, shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with fresh mint or an orange twist.

(As Kris pointed out, I don't know what makes this a martini, except for the glass its in.)

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