TIP: S10E02 "Happy Borthday"
I don’t tend to be very biographical with these write ups, because alcohol history is more interesting than my own, but I feel the need to give an anecdote here, so gather round, kids. It’s story time.
Way back in September of 2005, I was starting my 3rd year towards a BFA in Animation at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). During the previous summer, I turned 21, and so this semester was first time in Savannah at legal drinking age in a town with open container laws and a history of rowdy drinking. In your head, imagine New Orleans, and then remove the horn section and you basically have Savannah.
St. Patrick’s Day on River Street is no joke.
So, I’m back at college. I have a freshly updated I.D. card, and a new bar opens up on Bull St. called Jen & Friends. This place is a “martini bar”, and they pride themselves at the time as having “over 100 martinis” on their menu. They also had a happy hour special that basically meant you could get a drink for $4. This was bad. It was bad in the sense that no human being without the last name Archer should be swiftly downing 5 martinis for $20. Especially these “martinis”. As you can perhaps guess, when a place says they have 100 martinis on their menu, they’re using the term pretty loosely.
I’ve already extolled the virtues of proper naming when it comes to cocktail variations, but I’ll try to sum it up quickly: If you replace every ingredient in a drink with unrelated ingredients, you probably need to come up with a new name. Like, if instead of gin and vermouth, you mix coffee flavored vodka with Kahlua and heavy cream, you don’t have a Cafe Martini, you’ve got a fucking White Russian in an awkward glass.
Jen & Friends still exists. Now they have over 300 martinis, and it will comes as no surprise that they do not list a classic martini as one of them.
Damn did we enjoy ourselves back then. Young, naive, unsophisticated, liver like an ox, walking the razor’s edge of a diabetic coma with literal glitter on our lips. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!!
I have no regrets about our Birthday Cake flavored journey to a severe Sunday hangover. We only live once, and should make all the sugar-coated mistakes we can muster.
This week, we are not going to drink a Creamsicle-tini. We are going to drink a classic martini, and from there, who knows what mistakes we'll make.
This isn't mine in the sense that I invented it. I didn't. But everyone orders martini a little different, and this is how I order/make mine.
2.25 oz St. George Botanivore Gin
.25 oz Cocchi Americano
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Twist a lemon peel over the top of the glass and drop it into the drink.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:
Again, this is my individual taste, but here is why I choose these ingredients.
St. George's Botanivore is a balanced gin that is slightly more floral/citrus forward than other types. Because I use a lemon peel and orange bitters, instead of olives and brine, I like the gin to have a bright citrus quality as well. There are plenty of other gins that work well for this. "Tanqueray 10" (not their original, which is very pine forward), Uncle Val's, and Hendricks are some of my favorites.
Cocchi Americano is a fortified white wine that has a slight hint of "tonic" from the addition of quinine. Other brands exist, and Lillet Blanc is another excellent option for this style. Using the slight tonic flavor to go with the citrus forward qualities of the other ingredients makes this martini feel more familiar and approachable to a gin & tonic drinker, as it sits on the more refreshing side for such a booze heavy beverage.