Broadcast Journalist David Heathfield’s report investigating the impact of citizen journalism on war.
I’m enjoying a bit of holiday reading, Frank Moorhouse’s memoir – Martini.
I’m realising how little I actually know about this most impressive of alcoholic bevvies.
For instance: What are the correct proportions of gin to vermouth? And let’s not even get started on the pros and cons of bastardised versions, what Moorhouse calls the “Crazy Drinks”; chocolate martinis and the like***
Getting back to the vermouth question: How much is too much?
There are those who believe a martini is basically gin with a threat of vermouth. In my opinion they might as well drink their gin neat. I’ve always been one for a generous splash of vermouth and I agree with Moorhouse that it’s purpose is to smooth out, or ‘sweeten’ the drink.
I also agree that a martini made with sweet vermouth is a travesty, though some people like them that way.
Moorhouse says his preferred mix, and the domestic version of the martini he makes himself, is 5-1 (gin-vermouth). This seems about right to me, though I sometimes make them at three-one. And I have, on occasion, told barkeeps to make sure they don’t pour the vermouth off before adding the gin to the shaker.
Partly this is the Yorkshireman in me; I’ve paid for a martini and it has vermouth in it; don’t pour my vermouth down the sink! But also it’s about the mix, the taste, the impact etc. A martini is a blend and I want to taste the blend. If I want neat gin, I’ll ask for it.
Here’s a recipe for those who like their martini mostly gin, with very little vermouth. I’ll try this in the next couple of days and let you know what I think.
The Montgomery Martini
According to Moorhouse this is named after the British general, Montgomery, at least as mentioned in Ernest Hemingway’s novel Across the river and into the trees. It is so-called because Monty was famous for never attacking without overwhelming numbers.
As Moorhouse writes: “My secret agenda in this book is to bring back the vermouth to the martini.”
I’ll drink to that!
Another quick entry that will grow over the next few months. At least I hope so.
I will come back to this, it’s the story of the year for 2007.
Professional journalists are getting the wagons in a circle, and quickly too. Is this a good thing.
This is really grist to the mill(stone) of the book I’m writing now. I said earlier last year (is it that time already) that I’d blog the book and this is the first entry.
This piece from the Sydney Morning Herald today continues to mark the declining standard of human rights and free speech in China.
YouTube and other video-sharing websites are the latest to come under direct censorship. I particularly like this:
Video that involves national secrets, hurts the reputation of China, disrupts social stability or promotes pornography will be banned. Providers must delete and report such content.
“Those who provide internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism … and abide by the moral code of socialism,” the rules say.
What is a “moral code of socialism”? From my understanding a moral code of socialism would allow the greatest expression of human rights, including sexual freedoms; the right to free speech and criticism and freedom of assembly and distribution of political materials.
Of course there’s also capitalist morals, such as these demonstrated by a sycophantic YouTube spokestroll. The company’s interest in China is to continue to keep Google and YouTube profitable:
YouTube hopes the rules won’t cut it off from the rapidly growing number of Chinese residents with internet access, spokesman Ricardo Reyes said.
“We believe that the Chinese government fully recognizes the enormous value of online video and will not enforce the regulations in a way that could deprive the Chinese people of its benefits and potential for business and economic development, education and culture, communication, and entertainment,” Reyes said.
If you want to know what Korea’s Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, thinks of socialist morals you can read this disturbing screed.
Ah, dear reader:
It’s been a long time between posts. I must say that there’s a small amount of guilt attached. If one is going to blog then one must do so regularly. To do otherwise is to leave the blogosphere to others and to render oneself invisible again.
I am to begin this new year as I intend to continue – by posting on a regular basis. I’m also keen to enlist the talents of others who share my interest in politics, media and martinis.
It’s also humbling to realise that the martini is more than the sum of its parts. A quick search on Amazon.com uncovers a whole genre of writing about martinis that I, a self-proclaimed afficionado, knew next to nothing about.
I stand in the shadow of some giant literary figures who have not only enjoyed drinking martinis (something I can honestly claim to share with them) but who have also written extensively of their passion.
One such is my new literary hero, Frank Moorhouse. I remember reading some of Frank’s novels while at university some 30 years ago; but I didn’t realise how important his work would be in beginning my own education into the rituals and rich history of the martini.
I bought my copy of Martini: A memoir, several years ago and intended to read it, but didn’t get around to it. However, prompted by a friend who’s just read it, I fished it out the box where it lay dormant for the past year and plunged in.
Like an ice-cold, fresh smooth martini it was pleasure from the first word. I drank in the opening essay and silently apologised to Mr Moorhouse for neglecting this masterpiece for so long.
I’m not really far into it yet, but Martini is a book to be savoured, sipped and coddled.
In the first piece, Martini City, we are introduced to Moorhouse’s drinking companion, Voltz; an expert on the history and passion of the martini. The two men discuss the ‘martini city’ – a place where the martini is well-made and appreciated. I like to think that some of my haunts in Auckland are such places: the bars and nightspots that make my new home (I’ve been here a year now) a delightful place to drink a martini and enjoy the lively ambience of this Pacific-rim town.
Moorhouse also includes this wonderful short ditty from Dorothy Parker:
‘I like to have a martini
Two at the very most
After three I’m under the table
After four I’m under my host.’
I clearly have a lot of learning to do and I’ll start by finishing Martini and then reading some of Moorhouse’s other books in which the martini is both a character, a lubricant and an anaesthetic.
Happy New Year, and “cheers”