We’ve never tried blogging about booze, the hard stuff, the sauce, here before. So I’m going to give it a try.
First off, I don’t know much about hard alcohol. But I’ve been watching a lot of “Mad Men” and I’m fairly certain I will look more or less exactly like Roger Sterling when my hair turns white, so I decided to start drinking martinis a few months ago. I was heavily influenced by Fareed Zakaria’s piece on the subject, which recommends gin rather than vodka and wet rather than dry. I also use orange bitters (an excellent local product) in most of the ones I make, and olives in sum as well. I’ve been through three gins so far — Tanqueray, Plymouth, and Seneca Drums, made by Finger Lakes Distillers. I like Tanqueray a lot, respect the austerity of Plymouth (though I don’t like it that well), and am crazy for the Seneca Drums, which is made about 70 miles from where I live. It tastes a lot like Tanqueray only a bit more complex (there’s cardamom and some other spices in there as well as juniper) and smoother. Currently, I use the bitters and the olive in the Tanqueray and the Plymouth but just use a tiny bit of the olive brine (with no olive) in the Seneca Drums.
You guys seem like a martini-savvy crowd. What gins do you like? What vermouth? What proportion of gin-to-vermouth? Am I a philistine for adding both the orange bitters and the olive to my martini?
While I’m at it, what about the distillation process or the aging process makes something taste smooth? The Finger Lakes Distillery stuff all tastes smoother to me than larger distillers, but maybe that’s my imagination (though I don’t think it is). What would that be?
Update. I’m currently sipping Finger Lakes Distillers new rye, which is dangerously smooth. For Christmas, I usually give my uncles high-end bourbon, but the only I really like is the A. H. Hirsch, which is getting harder and harder to find. I can’t find any other bourbons that seem to get the same kind of crazy rave reviews that the Hirsch does, but some ryes do — specifically the Black Maple Hill and some of the special bottlings of Sazerac. Would a bourbon drinker like a rye? Are those kind of sweet or not? For whatever reason, this passage from All the King’s Men, the only really good book about politics I’ve ever read, really made me crave rye.