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How much Gin in a Vodka Martini?

Filed under: Geniuses

Vodka Martini

Last September I was in the Midwest with my brother and his friend for an Ironman-distance triathlon. They were competing in it, while I was just there for moral support and to photograph it. 140.6 miles of non-stop swimming, biking and running is a bit too long for me.

The night before the race we we were not having all that much luck finding a good restaurant for dinner. They wanted something simple, in anticipation of the following grueling day. It would have been nice to find something other than one of the large chain restaurants, but unfortunately, that’s more or less all they had there. In addition, they were all surprisingly very crowded. We found ourselves eating at the bar at an Olive Garden. Not exactly our idea of Italian food, but what were we to do? Besides, pasta seemed like a safe enough bet and would give them the carbs they wanted.

Well, we were sitting at the bar, and although the two of them were racing the next day, there was little reason for me to abstain from a nice drink. Display directly across from us were the various vodkas available, so it seemed like a Vodka Martini would be appropriate. As I often do when I have some doubts, I was a bit extra clear when I ordered my very dry Vodka Martini, and I added the statement “with just a drop of Vermouth”. I don’t mean to be pretentious, but you’d be surprised how many bartenders I’ve encountered who apparently don’t know what “very dry” means. Alas, it was the main ingredient I should have been much more explicit about.

As a side note, for anyone here who isn’t familiar with the Vodka Martini, it is a very simple drink. It is a derivative of the true Martini which is made with Gin and a little bit of dry Vermouth. For the Vodka Martini, it’s just Vodka with often an even smaller amount of dry Vermouth.  A “dry” Martini has very, very little Vermouth.  For some of us, that means just a drop of Vermouth, and I often use a mister to spray on just a hint of extra dry Vermouth [Noilly Prat, ‘of course]. I’ve heard of some who use an eyedropper, and it’s been said for the ultimate dry Martini you should just show the Vodka (or Gin) to the bottle of Noilly Prat.

Getting back to the story, I was aware the bartender was busy with a few drinks he was making, but I wasn’t really paying all that much attention. It was my brother who thought he was working on my drink. What caught my brother’s attention was the recipe card the bartender kept referencing while make the drink.

Seriously? A recipe card for a 2-ingredient drink? Obviously, he couldn’t be making my Vodka Martini because he kept referring to that card as if it contained complex, detailed instructions. The Martini, one of the most quintessential drinks, is definitely not all that complicated. Every bartender should know how to make one, right? Besides, he had a bottle of Beefeater Gin in his hand, so he couldn’t be making my drink, now, could he?

I watched as he kept referring to the recipe card, obviously looking for some sort of inspiration or guidance. Reluctantly I asked him if he was making my drink, but unfortunately I already knew the answer. I hesitated while I contemplated a concern that I might confuse him further, but was forced to reminded him that I had ordered a Vodka Martini. He immediately dumped out the contents of the Boston Shaker, but then a look of complete confusion came over him. He looked back at the card, and seemed quite baffled. I told him it was just Vodka with a drop of Vermouth. While he did finally produce the drink, as you might be able to guess, the final product definitely had too much Vermouth.

What I could not understand is how someone could work as a bartender and not know how to make one of the most basic of drinks. Shouldn’t that be a basic job requirement? And then my brother explained it very clearly when he told me what he couldn’t understand is why I didn’t realize I should have just ordered a beer.

July 21, 2009 | Posted by Ian | Permalink | Leave a comment
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We Don’t Have Hot Mustard Sauce

Filed under: Geniuses

So today, when I asked for Hot Mustard Sauce, the woman behind the counter gave me an odd look. That was not a good sign. She reached under the counter and pulled out a couple of packets of regular yellow mustard. Not exactly what I asked for…

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July 18, 2009 | Posted by Ian | Permalink | Leave a comment
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