Some Thoughts on Gin and Vermouth

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I have spent a fair amount of my career, my career as a drinker, thinking about that sublime melange combining gin and dry vermouth in propitious proportions.  My conclusion is this: it’s a good thing.

As we speak I am conducting further research, with gin from the freezer.  As the aim in these recent days is to run out of everything in time for my departure on Friday, I am prematurely out of vermouth, so I am making do.  Making do with a bit of citrus is not a very bad thing, so sometimes the mix-master on duty tosses in a bit of lemon, lime, or even a slice of pear.  On stranger days, when such luminaries as Kingsley Amis or Hunter S. Thompson come to mind, I add a pinch of cinnamon or ground cloves.  OK, weird, I know, but cloves has always been my catnip, and there are worse things to dump into the shaker.  I won’t list them here.

What kinds of things do you do?  What sorts of gin do you prefer?  What botanicals, additives, condiments or accessories do you toy with?  What martini stories do you know?  Please share.

My most important martini story by far started when I discovered, back in fall of 2006 in St Andrews, that Michelle liked martinis.  We went to a bar on South St called the Gin House.  We imagined speciously that they knew something about martinis.  But after I requested two martinis, and saw the very young bartender proceed to pour two large glasses of Martini and Rossi dry vermouth, I knew we were not on the same page.

As what happened at every bar in the UK, I had to instruct the man or woman behind the bar in the fine art of constructing a martini cocktail.  At a hotel in Stirling there were cocktail shakers behind the bar — a good sign.  (The universal bad sign was the absence of olives; you simply can’t find olives in a bar in the United Kingdom.)  But when I told the bartender to fill one of the shakers with ice, he used his ice tongs to carefully place precisely three cubes into the shaker.  I said, ‘no’, there should be more ice — so he added three more small cubes.  At the brink I told him ‘NO’ you must FILL the shaker with ice, which must have been a wholly alien thought for him; I think he sensed wisely that I might erupt and destroy the hotel if he didn’t end his miserly attitude towards ice, so finally he added a sensible quantity.  When at last we had our cold drinks in hand, with a bit of lemon instead of an olive, we calmed down — I calmed down — and we enjoyed the salubrious effects that gin and vermouth provide.

I hope I remembered to pack my shaker.

Do not suffer thirst.

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One Response to “Some Thoughts on Gin and Vermouth”

  1. chessloser Says:

    i love a gimlet, gin (or vodka) and lime. now i shall try the cloves in my gin, thanks…

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