Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Man After My Own Martini: "Slam, Bang, Tang!"

By Paul

My compliments to the accomplished raconteur Eric Felten for his stinging essay in The Wall Street Journal, "They're Not Martinis."

Felten laments the use of vodka and the profusion of colorful, sweetened flavorings:
For the purists, it's bad enough that a drink of vodka and vermouth is referred to as a Martini. But one doesn't have to be a stickler to bemoan the candy-colored cocktails with labels like "Raspberry Martini" or "Apple-tini" that fill out the "Martini List" at innumerable bars and restaurants. A drink of vodka, sweet liqueur and fruit juice is not a Martini...

Though hardly the purest of the purists, I am firmly of the belief that a Martini is a drink of dry gin and dry vermouth. No other drink has what songwriter Frank Loesser called the "slam, bang, tang" of the original.
.

Cheers and Amen. Felten nailed it, and I don't mean a Rusty Nail of Scotch and Drambuie.

The word "martini" has lost its meaning. I address this grievous threat to Western civilization in "Solomon vs. Lord" when old Herbert Solomon (a disgraced judge but honorable drinker) has this exchange with a female bartender at a tiki hut bar in Islamorada, FL.

Herbert waved at the bartender, who was working on a tray of colorful drinks. "Ginger, what the hell’s that disgusting thing that looks like toilet bowl cleaner?"

"Apple martini, Herb." She dropped a slice of a Granny Smith into the green drink.

"Apple martini, now there’s an oxymoron. Gin plus vermouth equals martini. An olive’s okay. Onion’s okay. Fruit is not okay. A martini should taste like liquid steel."

Herbert gestured toward her tray. "And what’s that red one?"

"Sea Breeze. Vodka, cranberry and grapefruit juice." She pointed to the other drinks. "This one’s a Sex on the Beach, and the tall one, that’s a Long Island Iced Tea. Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, Cointreau and Coke."

Herbert made a face. "That’s not a drink, it’s a frat party. When the carnival's over, make me a real martini."
If Bob ("Dark & Stormy") Morris is reading this today, I'd love to hear his comments.

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"TRIAL & ERROR" BOOKED FOR BREAKFAST

But enough about the old drinks and old books.

My newest Solomon and Lord novel, TRIAL & ERROR, hits the stores May 29. And you can read part of it NOW for free.

Here's what to do. Sign up at Bantam's "Booked for Breakfast. I was supposed to have told you about this last week but I was distracted by the Iraq War, Alberto Gonzalez, and manic depression. Had I informed my loyal readers, you could have already signed up, and you would have received the first chapter yesterday, the second chapter today, etc. But as long as you log on in the next several days, there's a button to hit that lets you read the installments you've missed.

It's an excellent promotional tool for writers and a great sneak peak at books for readers. Each month, four soon-to-be-published books are serialized in e-mail installments. Other "Books for Breakfast" this month are Rick Riordan's "Mission Road," Harlan Coben's "Deal Breaker," and Brian M. Wiprud's "Sleep with the Fishes."

If you don't feel like signing up for the daily e-mails, I've posted the first two chapters of TRIAL & ERROR on my website.

Then, of course, there's always the possibility of just waiting a few weeks and buying the book for cash. *************************************************************
RENÉE & ROGER: A LOVE MATCH?

(You may have previously read on this blog that Fellow Naked Author James Grippando is one of Dr. Laura Schlessinger's favorite writers. I am now counting on Jim to use this fact to get Dr. Laura, the tough-as-nails advice guru, to help me in this pressing personal situtation.)

Dear Dr. Laura:

My wife, Renee, an otherwise sensible woman and very accomplished tennis player, sunk into a deep depression after Roger Federer, her favorite player, lost in two consecutive touranments to Wily Canas. Naturally, being a contrarian and royal pain in the ass, I was rooting loudly and obnoxiously for Wily (Coyote) Canas as we watched these matches. Now, peeved at me, Renee has replaced my photograph with that of a shirtless Roger as her screensaver.
Personally, other than his youth, physique, talent, looks, backhand, and money, I don't see what Roger has that I don't. But Dr. Laura...should I be worried about this development????
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GAINESVILLE SCHOLARS DEFEAT COLUMBUS SCHOLARS

In case you missed it, the Florida Gators beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 84-75 to win the NCAA basketball championship last night. Greg Oden, the 7-0 freshman center, was sturdy in defeat, scoring 25 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. As has been widely reported, young Mr. Oden is taking one of Ohio State's challenging academic courses, "History of Rock and Roll." Buckeye fans hope his favorite song is the Beach Boys' "Be True To Your School" so that he'll return for his sophomore year. However, with the shoe companies dangling tens of millions of dollars in endorsement money (to say nothing of his expected NBA salary), most people suspect he's been humming Sam Cooke's "Don't Know Much." The song, while ruling out knowledge of history, biology, science, French, and geography...doesn't say anything about accounting.
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E-MAIL NAKED AUTHORS YOUR FRIENDS, FOES, AND CREDITORS

You may use the "envelope" button below to e-mail this post to anyone you wish to distract from useful work. The 10,000th person to do so receives all of Jim Born's royalties from "Field of Fire." Offer void in the Virgin Islands

Paul

18 comments:

  1. Someone beat you to the punch, Paul. Someone already recieves all the royalties from all my books.

    I could've missed reading about the Gators again this morning.

    I think the opening to Trial and Error is great.

    I feel Renee is wrong in her admiration for someone who is likely a closet communist, or at least, quite full of himself. Oh, wait, I forgot who she's married to.

    Jim

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  2. I recently ordered a martini at a restaurant and was asked if I wanted gin or vodka. I replied, "A martini has gin in it. A vodka martini has vodka in it. A vodka martini is not a martini."

    The bartender replied, rather defensively, "Well, when most people ask for a martini, they mean vodka."

    I felt like replying, "When people ask for a Manhattan, do you ask if they want bourbon or scotch?" but I didn't.

    As with Humpty Dumpty, when most people use a word, it means what they want it to mean, alas.

    I would only add that a proper martini also includes a dash of Angostura bitters.

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  3. I recently ordered a martini at a restaurant and was asked if I wanted gin or vodka. I replied, "A martini has gin in it. A vodka martini has vodka in it. A vodka martini is not a martini."

    The bartender replied, rather defensively, "Well, when most people ask for a martini, they mean vodka."

    I felt like replying, "When people ask for a Manhattan, do you ask if they want bourbon or scotch?" but I didn't.

    As with Humpty Dumpty, when most people use a word, it means what they want it to mean, alas.

    I would only add that a proper martini also includes a dash of Angostura bitters.

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  4. Dear Mr. Levine,

    I Googled myself (we celebrity psychologists have our compulsions, too, you know) and found your post about the screen-saver dilemma. For a writer who describes himself as funnier than Dostoyevsky you have seriously lost it. Here’s my opinion for what it’s worth (millions if you look at my last contract). You need more conflict in your relationship not less. I suggest dueling screen-savers. For example, replace your current screen-saver with my picture. That should generate some discord. In case that doesn’t work, don’t drop your gym membership.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Laura

    p.s. Please ask your wife to email me the picture of Roger Federer. For research purposes. You understand. I need to stop Googling myself and the picture may be of help.

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  5. Well yes, Paul, I am reading this today although I was celebrating the Gators until way-late (midnight constitutes way-late with me these days.) And James Zero Born sent me a congratulatory email, although I know he was gagging when he did it.

    It was an unfortunate weekend for gin and me. I bought a nice bottle of Plymouth when down in Miami over the weekend, planning to save it for when I finish the next book, but the bellman dropped it when he was loading our stuff into the car. Yes, that was me licking the parking lot of the Mutiny Hotel on Sunday morning.

    I keep a bottle of Hendricks gin in the freezer. It goes straight into the frosted glass with a healthy splash of vermouth (I like the way it sidles up to the gin) and two big fat pimento-stuffed olives. Nothing soothes the frontal lobes like the True Martini. Any other drink (read: anything with vodka or fruit) that assumes the title is an abomination.

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  6. patty smiley4/03/2007 9:53 AM

    Hey Bob, I don't drink gin because of a really really bad experience in my youth. I digress. I was at a bar one day and took a sip from somebody's Hendricks martini. It tasted way better than gin. I tried to find a bottle here in LA. I did but it wasn't easy. Are you hoarding it all down there in Florida?

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  7. Dr Laura also says;
    if that advice is ineffective.....have either of you tried Zoloft?

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  8. Patty

    Try Bev Mo ... Bev Mo has everything...

    Also, try floating a slice of cucumber in your Hendricks martini. Ain't bad...

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  9. patty smiley4/03/2007 12:14 PM

    Bob, I'd never heard of Bev Mo until I saw a recent ad. They must be new to LA. Cucumber? If I ever order a martini I'll try it but don't hold your breath. Dark and Stormies, now that's a whole other ballgame.

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  10. Ah, well, I've already read TRIAL & ERROR and I can say something along the lines of, "It's good. Go out and buy it. Paul needs the money."

    Actually, Paul, I need to contact you re. an interview on my blog or maybe something for ITW. Geeze, I gotta get my act together.

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  11. Douglas Nelson4/03/2007 12:26 PM

    Excellent martini article. One thing though the dark and stormy is also referred to as a dark and meany, because of the sneeky way it creeps up on you.
    best
    mcspud

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  12. My favorite gin:

    Junipero.

    Very floral, excellent for martinis.

    I'm one who prefers a classic martini, i.e., one that actually contains vermouth, to a dry martini (the common recipe for which involves rinsing out the glass with vermouth and then dumping it before adding the gin), so my tastes may not appeal to everyone. I also only drink martinis straight up with an olive, never with pearl onions, and never ever ever on the rocks. It may be heretical of me, but I don't care if my martini is shaken instead of stirred, thus bruising the gin--it proves that the drink doesn't contain vodka, and it doesn't affect the taste.

    Junipero is distilled by the same folks that gave you Anchor Steam Beer. You can get it at the Wine House on Cotner Avenue (between Olympic and Pico, one block east of the 405).

    The Anchor Steam Distillery folks also make three excellent single malt rye whiskeys under the label of Old Portrero--"Hotaling's", "18th century style", and "19th century style". The gin won't put you out more than a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, but the whiskeys start in the $75 range.

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  13. There seems to be a direct correlation between people who enjoy reading and people who know their martinis. I'm asking Patty Smiley to look into this matter of academic concern.

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  14. patty smiley4/03/2007 4:06 PM

    Okay, for the sake of science, I'm heading to the bar at Musso & Frank to sit with the ghost of Dashiell Hammett and research martinis. Cheers!

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  15. If it has an onion, it is NOT a martini, instructed my dear old Daddy. Legend has it that one night in Cincinnati, a hotel bar ran out of olives and began using pearl onions, and thus the "Gibson" was born, named for the Gibson Hotel, of course.
    A Latin professor of mine said that a dry martini was made by passing the vermouth bottle no fewer than four inches above the glass prior to pouring the gin.

    Tom, T.O.

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  16. A Latin professor of mine said that a dry martini was made by passing the vermouth bottle no fewer than four inches above the glass prior to pouring the gin.

    That's not a martini: it's gin. If you want gin with an olive, then don't ask for a martini.

    You're absolutely right about the Gibson, though. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of all the "flavored" so-called martinis, some folks think that a Gibson is just a kind of martini.

    Another thing I find irritating: the concept of a "gourmet" martini. Gin comes in two types: gin you can put in your mouth and gin you can't. The entire purpose of a martini is to make you feel like you've been struck between the eyes by the rear hooves (shoed in iron, mais naturelment) of an obstreperous mule. This is a laudable effect. Some gins and vermouths make better tasting martinis than others, true, but nothing can make drinking one a "gourmet" experience. (I'm reminded of Dorothy Parker: "One more drink and I would have been under the table. Two more drinks and I would have been under the host.")

    As far as the correlation between reading and martinis goes, my wife Margaret loathes martinis but loves literature. And of course, if you can focus your eyes well enough to read after drinking a martini, the cocktail was obviously a complete failure.

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  17. Hi Paul,
    This is a total nonsequitor, but I just returned from Atlanta and the Final Four, so: GO GATORS! I'll see what I can do about Dr. Laura, but it may take a few of your liquid steel martinis to do the trick.

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  18. To James Lincoln Warren:

    I don't know what I'm writing about next week, but I surely hope the subject is of interest to you. Love your erudite comments.

    (Note to Jim Born. "Erudite" is not a resident of the city of Erud in northern Egypt).

    Oh, crud. The phone is ringing. What fresh hell is this?

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