What's All This Then?
What's All This Then?
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First a note about substituting ingredients or tools. Don't. This method has been exhaustively tested and retested for excellence and the smallest variation can result in catastrophic and unintended consequences. See the "butterfly flaps its wings and causes hurricane" metaphor from Chaos Theory. There is room for personal preference and improvisation in many things. This is not one of them.
"Oh, I love Bach's Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, but perhaps it should be just a touch slower."
"I cropped Caravaggio's Crucifixion of Saint Peter along the top a bit to get rid of some of that icky dark area."
Begin by assembling the following materials and a clean, white towel at your work space. Turn off the television and eliminate other distractions. John Coltranes's First Meditations is appropriate music to work by. I cannot vouch for anything else.
A pair (2) of large, crystal martini glasses with a capacity of at least 7 ounce each. Only the classic sillhouette will do. No swirly or rose-colored stems or any other ornamentation is acceptable.
A sturdy, stainless-steel Martini shaker of the familiar shape and a generous size.
Four (4) large fresh Cerignola, California or other brine-cured green olives.
A small piece of aged Danish Blue Cheese of the dry, crumbly variety.
A large quantity of clear, hard ice, frozen from distilled water.
A kitchen knife.
A small spoon.
Two (2) extra-long toothpicks or simple swizzle sticks.
Schweppes Club Soda.
Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry.
Belvedere Vodka, from Poland, stored in freezer overnight.
Now we begin the sacrament. The motions and steps are all ordered to bring everything together at the holiest moment. There are many ways to describe the final product. Clean, precise and transcendent come to mind. But none of it is possible without cold. Cold in all its meanings. Unfeeling. Stoic. Mathematical.
1. Wrap some ice cubes in your towel and bash them with your hammer until they're all cracked into thirds or quarters.
2. Fill each glass to the rim with the cracked ice.
3. Pour the Club Soda over the cracked ice, filling the glasses. Set aside.
4. Pour a couple ounces of Dry Vermouth into the shaker. Cover and swirl it around a bit. Pour out the Vermouth leaving a coating around the inside of the shaker.
5. Hammer some more cubes lightly. Just a few whacks ought to do it this time.
6. Fill the shaker with the ice, about 3/4 of the way.
7. Pour in the ice-cold Belvedere Vodka, covering the ice. Cap the shaker. Set aside. Other vodkas may be better for other things, but not for this.
8. Take the flat of a kitchen knife and press down on an olive until you feel the pit. Carefully squeeze one end of the olive with your fingers. The pit should pop out. Using a small spoon, fill the cavity with Blue Cheese. Put two olives each on a swizzle stick. Set aside.
9. Vigorously shake the shaker in a violent up and down motion. When you feel you've done it enough, do it some more. It's important that the shaking sliver the ice. In classic Gin Martini preparation it is frequently said that a violent shaking will "bruise" the Gin. That may well be, but Vodka is a hearty liquid that blooms in its return to the near-frozen state from whence it came.
10. Pour the ice and Club Soda out of the glasses. The Soda enables the trace amount of Vermouth in the drink to cling to the side of the glass surrounding the pure slurry of Vodka and imparting a hint of taste with each sip. Trust me.
11. Uncap the shaker and pour the drinks. An occasional back and forth rotation of the shaker will facilitate the process. The final product will be thickish, with a slightly slushy quality.
12. Drop in the olives.
13. Enjoy slowly. Chat about the issues of the day. Smoke.
14. Repeat as necessary.
Note: on 12/22/10 we made a slight but significant change to this recipe. Details here.
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An ever updated list of books to be read "on location," as determined by some of our favorite writers, designers, and friends, will come in handy when you're planning the next trip.