Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Perfect Martini

Yes, I know who you are.  You say the perfect martini is the one where you pour the gin into the shaker before you reach for the vermouth.  You dust off that bottle - then tilt it to allow a close reading of its label.  This always makes you smile.

You stand there for a moment, the cool bottle in your hand, acknowledging again that, yes, you chose correctly - chose this bottle of vermouth over all the others in the store, all the others lined up like good soldiers.  Lined up and hoping the Commanding Officer - you - noticed their shine, understood the spit and polish required to make them gleam.

Then you hold the never-opened bottle ever-so-gently next to the shaker of iced gin - before you put the vermouth back on its dark shelf, strain the gin from the shaker into your martini glass, and then presume you're sipping a little bit of heaven.

But I'm not addressing you tonight.  I'm also not talking to you - yes you - the Mad Man at the end of the bar.  You who say that shaking the alcohol bruises the gin and therefore the perfect martini should always, but always, be stirred, not shaken.

I'm not talking to any of you guys tonight.  Tonight I'm talking to the brown-eyed-girl at the jukebox.  She has her back to me, but her hips are swaying to the music, waving hello.  She just dropped four quarters into the juke, punched four buttons, and now we all get to listen to--

When marimba rhythms start to play
Dance with me, make me sway
Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore
Hold me close, sway me more

I can tell Brown Eyes has an open mind.  That she prefers her drinks straight up.  It's the seams of her stockings.  Her not-quite stilettos.  The clutch that she slipped her compact into as she sauntered over to the music.  Brown Eyes knows that just thinking something is true doesn't make it so.

When I ask her what she'll have, after she returns from the jukebox--

Like a flower bending in the breeze
Bend with me, sway with ease
When we dance you have a way with me
Stay with me, sway with me

--she smiles.  Drums her stoplight-red fingernails on the bar.  When she glances over my shoulder, I know she's checking herself out in the mirror behind me.  She looks good and knows it.  So she smiles again and asks for the perfect martini.

I tell her I only know how to make it one way.  That it doesn't have chocolate liqueur, peppermint schnapps, or a floating kiwi.

Good, she says.

Other dancers may be on the floor
Dear, but my eyes will see only you
Only you have the magic technique
When we sway I go weak

She doesn't want to know my story.  Doesn't care that Dan at Du Vin Fine Wines turned me on to the best vermouth I've ever tasted - and that I needed it quick because I had a date earlier, at 6:21 PST.  Had a date but no vermouth.  That is all immaterial to Brown Eyes.  So?  So then I do the only thing I can do.  The only thing I'm good at.  I make her--


THE PERFECT MARTINI

1 OZ HENDRICK'S GIN
1 DASH ANGOSTURA ORANGE BITTERS

COMBINE.  SHAKE.  STRAIN INTO CHILLED MARTINI GLASS.  GARNISH WITH A LEMON TWIST.


I can hear the sounds of violins
Long before it begins
Make me thrill as only you know how
Sway me smooth, sway me now

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