A Momentary Tiki Timeout

A Momentary Tiki Timeout

I know it is Tiki Month, but I think the following old magazine article which is circulating once again is a refreshing and amusing word from the Strict Constructionist wing of Cocktailia. The writer is a well-known political figure and speaks of other such critters in the piece. I’m redacting any specifics for two reasons:

  • Since it’s Tiki Month, I’ve got lots of overproof booze lying around, and a flame war could have devastating consequences.
  • With no names named, you can see how much of this advice will apply to you, yes, you personally, in any circumstance where your guy or gal is not the one currently running the country (or your office) (or your team).

The subject is the Martini. Let us start with its value:

How can we forget, how can we take the edge off our pain…? Different strategies will occur, but one of the most promising is the judicious use of alcohol. One cannot, of course, begin the forgetting process at breakfast and continue through the day, since that would have devastating effects on one’s career, marriage, and liver. The tactic is definitely recommended, however, for the early evening hours when, as you zap around the TV channels, you are all too likely to come without warning upon (the news). That can be a nasty shock to your nervous system. If you have not prepared yourself in advance, it will be too late to avoid the damage and you will totter off to bed to lie awake staring into the dark or to toss fitfully dreaming of (the horror). Just the right amount of alcohol taken at the right time will, however, enable you to see the humor in (your situation), and to fall asleep congratulating yourself on having risen above despair.

See? Universal truth.
Beyond this point, it gets a bit sticky. There is definitely room for disagreement. Our intrepid author dismisses wine as an acceptable antidote, and rejects Bourbon and Scotch as too sweet and insufficiently bracing. I’m not sure I agree. If the President just signed a particularly egregious bill, or that moron of a manager sent the runner from second with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth, Brown Liquor is the only remedy. Seriously. Oh, and he acts as if beer does not exist. His choice was the Dry Martini. It is valuable for us to remember there was a day, not so long ago, where the Martini was an endangered species, and this piece was written in that period.
I refer to the author as a strict constructionist because of his take on the basic nature of the Godfather of Cocktails:

Well, then, what is the description of the proper, indeed the perfect, martini? There is in this matter, as on every serious subject, a number of heresies. In the first place, a drink made with vodka is not a martini. A martini means gin. Second, olives are to be eschewed, except by people who think a martini is a type of salad.

Finally, the martini must be straight up. I recall once seeing a martini “on the rocks” and murmuring, “Oh, the horror, the horror!” Insofar as “on the rocks” indicates a form of bankruptcy, it is a perfectly accurate description of gin and vermouth on ice. There should be some small amount of water in a martini (that is inevitable in the chilling process and makes the drink smoother), but when it is served on the rocks, the amount of water keeps increasing, depriving the martini of its special tang.

As he goes on toward greater and greater detail, I find more to quibble with. For someone so sure of themselves, he is remarkably confused as to the proper ratio of vermouth, and he gets the composition and history of the Montgomery a bit muddled. He also commits the ultimate heresy of stating that a martini should be sipped slowly, over time. A drink must be consumed swiftly, while it is laughing at you, no?
I’ll offer a hat tip and a smackdown to Gabriel Malor, a co-blogger over at Ace of Spades, who brought this to my attention. (Gabriel is a lawyer incidentally, and while I don’t usually hold that against him, the earthquake that struck while he was taking the Bar really should have told him something.) He criticizes our intrepid author’s choice of gins. Beefeater is a good mixing gin, Gabriel, but don’t go putting it above Sapphire for martinis. Or in general, for that matter. You don’t want that I should sick your soul-brother in snark upon you….


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