Martini Meanderings

A couple of weeks ago I was in the Brooklyn bar with a few colleagues when Paul mentioned a cocktail called a “wanker” that was based on tequila. We got chatting and I mentioned that I’d been wondering about a tequila-based martini. Paul agreed to try one with me if we could come up with a recipe. So we “invented” ourselves the tequila martini “wanker”. After drinking it, much to the disgust of one or two of our companions, we altered the recipe slightly and got to the “tosser”.

The wanker was based on gin and tequila with bianco vermouth. I was thinking that the sweet would cut through the more pungent tequila. The tosser was using vodka rather than gin. From memory the proportions were 2:1:1. To be honest, they weren’t too bad, but perhaps we need to refine the recipe a little.

I was feeling quite smug about all that until half an hour ago. I’ve finally found a few minutes to write up a post and so, of course, had to do some “research”. My efforts on Google led to plenty of recipes for tequila martinis, some of which I now know are “Mexican martinis“.

The Mexican sounds like a crazy drink to me and who but an American would add 7Up or Sprite to a bloody cocktail. As we know from Moorhouse and Voltz, a crazy drink is a bastardised version of a traditional cocktail, or anything that’s overpowered with fruit and soft drink – way too much sugar in there, which is bad for the digestion. I’m much more in favour of the classical when it comes to martinis (though with some notable exceptions). At Drinks Mixer there’s a simple, elegant tequila martini – tequila and dry vermouth, a twist, or an olive. That’s better.

If you want to chase down some rather interesting martini recipes that are non-standard (crazy drink warning inserted here), checkout Martiniboys.com

I was in the Shakespeare this week too, to meet up with some journos from APN after work. The Shakespeare is a microbrewery so it has a wide selection of house beers. Some are good, some are like rarked up home brew. But I was very disappointed to find out that they don’t even have a cocktail shaker behind the bar. Not only that, there was no vermouth either. I asked one of the friendly bar staff if he could make a martini and the poor guy totally lost it. He was more pissed off than I was about the lack of professionalism and courtesy to patrons. What sort of a bar doesn’t have the essentials for mixing even the most standard of cocktails?

It seems plenty, because I’d also been out to dinner recently in Newmarket to a pretty good tapas bar. Same deal there. A good wine list, but no ability to make a martini.

However, I was not disappointed at The Grove, which is an upmarket bar/restaurant in downtown Auckland with a great atmosphere, good food (a little pricey) and a very capable barkeep. I asked Alex what she likes to known as because barkeep or bartender doesn’t seem elegant enough a title for what she does – which is serve drinks and mix cocktails.

Wine waiters, who are any good, are called somelliers, but what about cocktail mixers. Apparently Alex doesn’t like “mixologist” because they work with chemistry and dry ice. According to slashfood a mixologist is definitely not a bar tender. Alex jokingly suggested “bar wench”, but that is disrespectful in my view. Any way Alex mixed me a very nice martini (straight up) and we got talking about ingredients etc. She mentioned Lillet (“lillay” apperently) and the James Bond classic martini the “Vesper” from Casino Royale. Lillet is a French version of a vermouth-like drink, but like Noilly Prat you can’t exactly call it a vermouth. The flavour is richer and the colour darker. Lillet is based on wines, so it’s really a fortified wine. It does however, make an excellent martini.

I found this neat blog entry from Bunnyhugs, she/he is in New Zealand which is nice, so if you ever read this Bunnyhugs, drop me a line. There’s some interesting information about Lillet here and also the Vesper recipe, which I’ve also pasted here for future reference.

The Vesper

3 oz gin (Bond drank Gordons but I used Tanqueray since the only Gordons in New Zealand is nasty, low-proof stuff)

1 oz vodka (Stolichnaya, what else?)

½ oz Lillet Blanc

Shake over ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

I also just want to quickly mention one other quite good martini that Alex mixed for me at the Grove. It is probably a crazy drink, but it was an excellent dessert martini which I am quite fond of.

This one is the trifle martini and it does contain some fruit pulp, but it’s not overly sweet as the fruit is a tamarillo. The trifle martini also has white chocolate and vanilla, it’s made on a vodka base. I would have this one again, it’s a good way to end a fine dining experience and, in my view, better than an after-dinner coffee.

2 Responses to Martini Meanderings

  1. Seamus says:

    Thanks for the link… My blog name is supposed to be ‘Bunnyhugs’ by the way (with no ‘the’). A few people got confused by that before. Guess I need to tidy my site up a bit. We should meet up for a drink sometime.

  2. [...] shimmy to the 16 tracks on this CD with a clear conscience – at least until the effects of three Vespers kicks [...]

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