Sun 6 May 2007
On April 4, I posted on BTYH a piece about the purity of the martini titled “Pas de Martini,” complaining that just about anything that anyone wants to call a martini is accepted as such nowadays and that, now and forever, the only true martini is made with gin and a splash of vermouth. In other words: Not Vodka!
On May 1, Eric Asimov, at The New York Times, picked up that post for The Pour, his wine and spirits blog (http://thepour.blogs.nytimes.com), and provided a link — thanks, Eric! — and from there it got picked up all over the blogosphere, which is one of the nice things that can happen on the Internet. I was particularly interested by the reaction on the Coffee Rhetoric blog (“Dark, Robust, and Highly Caffeinated”), written by coffey0072, a young woman evidently deeply immersed in the life of the body and its senses. On a post entered on May 2, coffey0072, besides providing a link to my martini rant — thanks, coffey0072! — bemoaned the fact that martinis, in the classic (and only acceptable) sense, have nothing to do with vodka, since she had been drinking vodka martinis (and thinking herself pretty damned sophisticated) for about as long as she could lift a cocktail glass. Crushed now that she had been deluded all these years, coffey0072 decided that she would have to “re-drink” all those martinis in order to correct her errors, an intriguing concept that could be applied to dating, children, jobs and just about anything else in our lives.
The young responders to coffey0072’s post — they write under names like Bloody Whore, Pookie Sixx and Jessucka, and I assume that none of them is my daughter — refuse to feel abashed. “Who gives a flick?” asks Cat about the supposed place of gin in the martini hierarchy, and as for Amadeo, he gets right to the bone-baring point: “Piss on critics.”
Well, as I’m brushing the warm liquid from my elitist shoulders, let me say that I found these reactions vivid, refreshing, rather cute and fairly naive. Oh sure, I’m a condescending snob — “LOL” as they all say, “:-)” — everybody knows that, but I also hope that Cat and Pookie Sixx and Jessucka will continue to belly up to the bar and drink anything in any combination that their hearts desire. I mean, if young people come to me and say, “Help, how do I learn what wine to drink with what food? It’s all so confusing,” I tend to reply, “Yes, there are general guidelines (not rules) to give you aid and comfort but mainly you need to experiment with drinking different wines with different dishes and see what you like best.” That’s how we learn.
And maybe someday, just maybe, after all the chocolate martinis and apple martinis and lychee and melon martinis and ginseng martinis and, hell, I dunno, black-strap molasses martinis, one of these young people will clamber to a bar-stool after a hard day’s work and say to the bartender, “Gimme a, uh, well, you know, gimme one of those real martinis, you know? Gin and vermouth and an olive?”
And the bartender will carefully craft — stirred, not shaken — such a concoction and pour it into an elegant cocktail glass (a triumph of economical design) and set it, sleek, gleaming, transparent, on the bar on a pristine white square of napkin, and the young person will sip it tentatively, exploringly, and discover how cold it is, how openly astringent yet supple, how complicated in its clean, slightly sharp medicinal citrus, cedary and floral hints but with all edges buffed by the slightly bland herbal nature of the vermouth, and how the faint tang of olive, earthy and comfortable, floats on the surface, and the young person will experience an epiphany and stand up and declare, “Now I have put behind me childish things.”
And we’ll get together and re-drink all those bad old martinis to correct the errors of the past. As long as I don’t have to call her Jessucka.
Image of the exploding martini from trengovestudio.com.