Bourland’s Gibson

November 26, 2007

I have not written about martinis of late and felt it time to do so.

These days a martini is the new word for cocktail. You don’t hear people use the word “cocktail” so much these days. The word “martini” sounds more sophisticated. I guess.

gibson.jpgBut those of us in the know, KNOW that the original martini was a gin martini. The philosophy of fine gin has not really caught on in a Bud light world. Spirit makers who pride themselves on their distinctive gin traditionally add a variety of botanical herbs, the chief one being juniper. Adding tonic to ANY gin obliterates and masks any artistry attempted by the gin maker. I find there to be too many botanicals in Bombay Sapphire and find it an unsatisfactory gin. They have great ads, commission beautiful martini glasses, the product is named beautifullly, and the bottle LOOKS good, but I just don’t like the flavor. The regular Bombay gin is simpler and, for my taste, works a bit better. That being said, in most half decent bars in America, the standard fare of gin is Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, and Beefeaters. You can be sure there is a Brand X el cheapo gin that they use for their gin-not-specified and tonic. When faced with this traditionally slim pickins, I go for Tanqueray on the rocks, unless you know and can trust the bartender to make you an excellent martini or Gibson– the former being with an olive and the latter with a cocktail onion. Don’t order a martini in a bowling alley. They’ll measure out 1/3 vermouth with 2/3rds well gin and you’ll suffer profoundly.

You are asking, how do you make your martini?

I like to have a martini or Gibson from time to time and on festive occasions perhaps two. Martinis are NOT drinks to have with dinner, rather, before dinner.

Bourland’s Gibson

  • Clean out and dry a martini glass. Not too large as the drink gets warm after a while.
  • Put ice in the martini glass and fill it until it is almost full with drinking water.
  • Fill a small shaker half with ice.
  • Drip a few drops of Martini Dry Vermouth onto the ice
  • Put in Hendricks, Miller, or Citadelle gin just below the ice and shake a few times.
  • After a minute, drink the water in the martini glass and toss the ice into the sink. You’ll see condensation where the cold water was. (I advise the novice to drink water because you don’t want to be thirsty when you drink a martini. One sips a martini to savor the botanicals, not to get sloshed.
  • Shake the shaker VIOLENTLY for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • On an olive skewer, pierce a cocktail onion or two in the jar and transfer it into the martini glass. Do NOT pour the juice of the onion or olive into the glass. Like tonic, this masks all botanical flavors.
  • Pour in the gin.
  • Serve immediately, do not wait as the ice shards floating is it’s optimal state. Once they melt, the quality of the martini is a bit less fresh.

• • •
Gin is not for everyone. It is clearly an acquired taste. I first fell in love with it through falling in love with the juniper berry. We were out camping in Joshua Tree (in the 80s) and on one of our hikes, Charlie picked some juniper berries and later put them on our steaks that we cooked on a campfire. That smell and taste was thrilling. A bit of that memory comes back when I sip a fine gin.

I have a few friends who claim that gin makes them crazy, obstreperous, cantankerous, or generally unpleasant to be around. I don’t drink enough, and hope never to do so, to be able to comment on this. I remember ol’ DW, rest his soul, who took me to brunch one day, this was at 11:30 am, and he had four martinis before the food came. Because at that time I was a young professor trying to keep up, I tried to keep up with him. And omigod I have never been so drunk in my life. So fortunately, this was an experience I have never wished to recreate, and I think that I have my alcohol consumption under control.

As one of my heroes, Lester Breslow, says: “everything in moderation–including moderation.”

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