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Time for a Rant

December 30, 2008

The other day I was out with a couple of my fellow bartenders for a drink at one of the higher end establishments here in Santa Fe.  Like any good and nosey bartender, I started to peruse the drink list.  Here is what I found…

“The Classic Martini—Bombay Gin or Grey Goose Vodka with dry vermouth and two olives.  Or with the Non-Traditional lemon twist.  Definately shaken not stirred.”

I was floored!!! This is a 4 Star/4 Diamond resort I was in. The cutting edge, the creme de la creme, top of the tops, experts in their field  and yet everything I read in that description in incorrect as a “classic” martini.

The Classic Martini, as the original recipe,  cannot be made any longer since the primary ingredient, “Old Tom Gin” is not longer in production.  Leaving that aside, Plymouth Gin would be the second choice.  Sweet vermouth was orignally used not, dry vermouth(whick would have constitued a “dry martini”).  BITTERS Y’all!!!!!!!!!!!  All cocktails by definition must have bitters, and in this case orange is our flavor.  Finally, as a general rule, any drink containing solely liquor (like this one) is always STIRRED!  FInally the lemon twist is the traditional garnish of a martini: not the olive which didn’t make it into this concoction until after Prohibition.

So it is with so mush of our recipes and understanding of true or classic mixology.  All too often I have speculated as to how we lost sight on so much.  Prohibition being the main culprit, as our craft was a specialty previous to the Great Drought.

The lack of ingredients is another.  I rarely have worked in bars that stocked bitters other than Angostura.  Also many high volume clubs either dont have or dont carry a wide variety of garnishes.  I remember a country bar I filled in at once only had limes and put them as the garnish for every drink.

Quality of ingredients?  Definately so.  Cordial and Liqueurs available are artiffically flavored, or misrepresentative of the correct flavor (i.e. grenadine is pomagrantie not cherry)

Lack of training.  BIG TIME.  Many of our bartenders are glorified servers that are not properly training in mixing.  It;’s not their fault especially considering the person that taught them was also incorrectly trained.  That chain goes back “Generations” if you get my meaning.

Bar Schools are no help either.  I do not know of a single bar school that offers a true course of study that teaches the basics fo mixolog, opting to pour food coloring into a glass rather than teach proper mixing.

So what is my solution.  Read, study, talk, and ask, those who are doing it right.  There are several around, all operating weblogs, websites, writing books,a dn offering great info on the that cuts through years of misinformation.

And I appeal to the bar I was in…..Change the name of your drink, and call me if you would like some training and consultation!!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2008 10:29 am

    Couldn’t agree with you more Chris, good rant.

    BTW – I’ve recently found that Hayman’s is making an Old Tom – not sure of the “originality” of it either, looking into that. There’s a few places online I think DrinkupNY is one of them. Haven’t tried it yet but as soon as I can get confirmation that its shippable I will – so many classic recipes to try that dry gin just can’t touch.

  2. December 31, 2008 8:51 am

    I heard rumor of this. Please let me know if you this wish comes true.

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