March 24, 2009

Principle versus Taste

Today for lunch we went to Legal Sea Foods in Kendall to wish a co-worker farewell as it was her last day. I ordered a gimlet and after asking what gins they had, asked for it with Bombay Sapphire. When my drink came it was very limey which was what I wanted. After a couple of sips, the waiter asked me about the drink to which I replied it was okay. He then informed me that he substituted Tanqueray for the gin (that being the cocktail menu stated drink) since it blended with their lime cordial better.

My anger flared and I hurled back at him some snarky comment concerning that being the reason why I didn't taste as much juniper as I was expecting. He offered to replace it, to which I continued my rant and replied that since that was what I had ordered I'd like that. Here enters the principle of the matter. I would rather have had him recommend that I try the drink with Tanqueray when I ordered it, instead of specifically ignoring my request.

Now I've demonstrated that I'm not a super taster when it comes to gin. In fact I swapped Bombay Sapphire with Tanqueray when I did that blind tasting. This of course means that when my drink was replaced he could have just switched what he originally served me to another glass and I would have been none the wiser. I suspect he's either laughing his ass having done just that and remarking how rude and ignorant I was. Hence on the matter of taste, what gin the drink was served with really didn't matter.

With all of that said, I'm still fuming and my mind is still obsessing over the issue. I'm pissed off at myself for letting my anger flair so easily. I'm pissed off at the waiter for switching my order around. I'm pissed off at the fact that I'm still thinking about it even when I know I couldn't tell the difference. Turns out nor can most people. So there you have have it, a possibly nice lunch and the rest of my day distracted over something that really shouldn't have mattered. Grrrrr.

Tags: gin rant

September 26, 2007


I've just finished "Martini, Straight Up" revised edition by Lowell Edmunds. It is a short and at times metaphysical history and look at the Martini. In this case Martini primarily means a drink made of gin and vermouth served in the iconic glass. The author prefers his Martini cold, 4:1 to 8:1, shaken, straight up, with the oil from a twist of lemon. I find it strange that given his tastes the cover picture includes the lemon rind floating in the drink instead of discarded as directed [xviii].

The author explores seven contrasting areas of the Martini including its origin (American vs. European), location (urban vs. rural), status (high vs. low), gender (male vs. female), message (optimistic vs. pessimistic), audience (adults vs. children), and period (past vs. present). These areas are examined through the observations of the author and references to numerous interviews, articles, books, movies, television, and advertising. For such a narrow topic the material when looking at the history of the Martini is good. Where the author strays into philosophical discussions of the meaning of the Martini the book lacks polish.

The changing character of the Martini I found to be the most engaging material. Gin to vodka, varying amount of vermouth, and to now almost anything being served in a Martini glass being some kind of -tini. It is this change that the author explores through a series of ambiguity chapters about the Martini: civilized vs. uncivilized, uniting vs. separating, classic vs. individual, and sensitive vs. tough.

Overall the book makes a convincing case that the Martini is a very potent symbol in and of America. As the author notes the coverage of drinks from a anthropological stand point is dwarfed by research and books on food and the negative impacts of alcoholic consumption. Little books like this help shed some light on socially harmless drinking people enjoy on a regular basis [103].

Tags: books gin martini

June 30, 2006


The Gilman Manor liquor closets are reasonably well stocked. I have tended to go on kicks of certain alcohol types. Last year it was sake. This year it has been gin. Tonight I decided to do a little blind taste testing of the gins that I had. I usually drink gin with tonic but tonight it was all straight gin. I had John randomize the six gins we have into shot glasses from which I sampled. I scored two out six in matching the gins. For the other four I swapped them, in what I consider similar categories of gin. I'm not a super taster by any means but I was happy enough to detect differences in them to make educated guesses. The six gins I tasted were:

  • Bombay Sapphire
  • Tanqueray
  • Van Gogh
  • Seagram's Distiller's Reserve
  • Hendrick's
  • Miller's Reformed

I swapped Bombay with Tanqueray, Van Gogh with Segram's, and got the last two correct. Overall I'm fairly far gone and I still like gin :)

Tags: gilmanmanor gin