Friday, February 20, 2015

Mixology Monday, February 2015: That's not a Martini!

Urrrr... *snow MoD lurches back onto the blog* Does it count if I Tiki this month by doing my best Zombie impersonation?

Welcome back dear readers! Back to cocktailing after another mini-hiatus and deeply thrilled to be posting for this month's edition of the Greatest Cocktail Party on the Web, Mixology Monday! This month is hosted by my dear Twitter bestie, cocktail/Tiki/split vermouth/coffee/twangy guitar connoisseur Dagreb of Nihil Utopia, with a theme sure to bring a smile: That's not a Martini!
A Telecaster's not an Esquire. A Melody Maker's not a Les Paul Jr. A Marauder ain't a Crown Vic. A Blue Moon is no Martini… well, almost.

Take away the dash to a quarter ounce of Creme Yvette and we're left with gin (a must!), dry vermouth, and orange bitters. That's a Martini! It's at least one canonical Martini anyway.

This month's Mixology Monday theme is that which is almost, but not quite, a Martini. Perhaps there are dashes (or more) of a liqueur (or two) added to the basic structure. Perhaps a Fino Sherry (or other fortified/aromatized wine) is standing in for vermouth. Maybe there's Oxygene instead of bitters? Gin, certainly!

Use your imagination! Use your library! Make a Martini, that's wearing a hat!
When active, check out the hat parade here.

The tricky part is, you see, I'm not a big gin drinker. It either has to be in the peak of summer or, oddly, the peak of winter - to either beat the heat with a good G&T or become one with the cold with a good junipery G&T. And I'll only cocktail with the stuff if a particular recipe absolutely cries out for gin. To me, gins are the cats of the spirit world - cold, with a self-sufficiency that lets you know you're the add-on in the equation - whereas aged spirits, bourbon especially so, are the dogs - warm, emotionally-available, tried and true after long years of aging.

Then, to go and compound things, it's Tiki Month! And a little cocktail-clatch of us on Twitter got the notion we needed to Tiki the Martini. So here's my stab at the notion.

Kyprian Pirate*
1 1/2 oz French gin (blue Magellan!)
1 oz Plymouth gin
3/4 oz Batavia arrack
3/4 oz bianco vermouth
3 dashes pastis (Pernod)
2 dashes Bittercube Jamaican #2 bitters
1 dash orange bitters (Angostura)
1-2 drops rose water
wedge of pineapple for garnish

Stir. Strain. Garnish.

Your proboscis will discover much herbacity, notes of vanilla-mint with rose, anise and pineapple. And then it hits your tastebuds with a swirling shimmering miasma that jumps up and sucker-kicks your nose again. This cocktail has an herbaceous tongue burn that rivals Chartreuse, and like the best Tiki, leaves you pondering just what's in it that gives it a certain je ne sais quoi, all the while tasting distinctly Martini-esque.

Yes, yes, I know. It's a 4 oz cocktail. That's ok - you get to figure out how to small-size it! Besides, Tiki is known for taller drinks. And rose water-accented orgeat. And Zombies with a teeny-tiny bit of Pernod. And precise mixes of base spirits to create whole new flavors (see: the Winchester). And blue cocktails! (sweartagawed the gin was bright blue in the bottle! I dunno what happened!) And arrack, oh arrack...

And big honkin' pineapple garnishes.

But seriously, [adding this graf a few hours after posting] one thing missed over in the thought process whilst being zany: you wouldn't think Tiki and 'tinis would mix. One focuses on a sweet/sour axis while the other a dry/spiritous/bitter axis. Adding Tiki sweeteners to a Martini without the addendant sour destroys the drink pretty quickly. This take aimed to transfer the flavors and attitude into the structure, without the flavor-neutralizing sugar.

*an epithet of Paris, from Euripides of all things. Google Kypris and avoid the beauty products.

Big thanks to Dagreb for letting me squeak zombie-like well-around the deadline - it's an honor to participate in this one, my friend. Kudos on a stylishly insouciant theme and a fine job hosting! Thanks also to Fred "7th-level Zen Master/cat wrangler" Yarm for pulling together yet another great month! Cheers, all!