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Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

Greetings!

When you go into a bar and order a cocktail, do you have a general preference as to whether the bartender uses the free pour method or the jigger method when measuring the amount of alcohol for your cocktail?

I’m a martini drinker who prefers the free pour method. I live in a neighborhood that has about 40 bars within a 2 mile radius from where I live. I have been to most of them at least once, and the vast majority of their bartenders use the free pour method.

This is the norm in my area. In addition, I always walk to these bars to get there. This is one of my rules. If I want a martini, I have to walk to get it.

Some of our local bartenders perform their free pours with a lot of artistry and flair, which can be sheer poetry in motion to watch. It is my impression that the more experienced bartenders in my neighborhood use the free pour method.

I understand the rationale about measurement consistency when bartenders use the jigger method. But it is not as fun to watch. When I order a martini and see a bartender using the jigger method, it is like the bartender is saying to me: “I want to make sure that I don’t give you too much alcohol.” It strikes me as somewhat anal and is kind of a downer. But I also realize that these bartenders may be following the instructions of their managers.

It has also been my experience that, more often than not, I usually receive a stronger martini, when a bartender uses the free pour method. This has been the case the vast majority of the time. There have been a few exceptions, such as the bartender I had a few weeks agpo who only used a two second count for my martinis. In contrast, I have seen some bartenders use at least a five second count.

I might add that the longer the pour count, and the stronger my martini, the greater is my tip. Sometimes I tip as high as 50%.

There is one bar in my neighborhood that used to employ the free pour method. Their martinis were nice and strong. But during my last two visits, their bartenders have suddenly switched to the jigger method. As a result, these martinis have not been nearly as strong.

Could this be a red flag that they may be having financial problems and that their bartenders have been instructed to cut back on the alcohol? If this is the case, I see this as counter-productive. Their volume of customers has also declined lately.

There is another bar right across the street from this one whose martinis, prepared with the free pour method, are much stronger. In fact, one of their martinis, prepared with the free pour method, gives me a greater buzz than the three martinis I had during my last visit to the bar that has just switched to the jigger method.

What’s up with that? In such a market, with so many bars packed so closely together in walking distance from each other, I would think that this bar would want their martinis to be at least somewhat competitive with the others. It is like they are self-destructing.

In case you’re curious, I live in what is known as the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia, which is also located in walking distance from downtown. I might add that Norfolk was ranked last year as the second drunkest city in America by the Daily Beast.

I welcome any and all comments in regard to the above.

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  1. So when you have a stronger or weaker Martini, does the amount of vermouth remain the same?

    2 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      It varies. I really don't like the taste of vermouth. Therefore, I usually ask for my martinis to be prepared extra dry. If I can taste the vermouth, then it is too much. Sometimes I even ask for no vermouth. The biggest factors in the strength of my martinis seem to be volume of the alcohol, whether measured by a pour count or a jigger, and sometimes the size of the martini glass.

      1. re: PontiusPalate

        Ah, so you just want cold gin and plenty of it :) Then I'd guess the "free pour" is your friend! I don't pay attention to that but I do know that a glass of wine will be the same from glass to glass. Not necessarily from place to place but a bigger pour is sometimes because the price is higher.

    2. I think that you like the free pour because you really just want gin and more gin versus less

      A proper cocktail should be measured with a jigger.

      If I am at a bar the free pours I know the drinks will not be quality and will switch my drink selection accordingly to something that cannot be messed up - like gin and club soda

      In that case a free pour is fine but I have little to no expectation

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dapuma

        Hi Dapuma,

        Perhaps, I should have qualified my discussion as applying to martinis only.

        Living in an area in which there are about 40 bars within a two mile walking distance, I have only seen one of them prepare their drinks with a jigger. This is the one I mentioned in my original post above.

        Maybe this is a regional thing. The free pour method is the overwhelming norm in my area.

        At my favorite restaurant and bar, the bartender has previous experience in bars in both New York City and Miami. She is the best bartender I have seen in my area, and we were very fortunate to get her. Watching her mix drinks is true poetry in motion, and I have never seen her use a jigger.

        Just saying.

        PP

      2. I understand your general, overall point, but several specific things don't make sense to me (or, at least, leave me somewhat confused or with questions) . . . .

        1) The obvious: >>> If I want a martini, I have to walk to get it. <<<

        You never make one at home?

        2) The *other* obvious: >>> When I order a martini and see a bartender using the jigger method, it is like the bartender is saying to me: “I want to make sure that I don’t give you too much alcohol.” It strikes me as somewhat anal and is kind of a downer. But I also realize that these bartenders may be following the instructions of their managers. <<<

        This strikes me as silly. I personally know several bartenders and am acquainted with many more. The VOLUNTARY use of measuring devices (be they jiggers, measuring spoons, graduated cylinders, whatever) typically have to do with how complex the drink is, OR how precise the bartender wants his/her drinks to be. The greater number of ingredients, the more crucial the balance between is, and thus the more likely one is to use measuring devices. More simple drinks, like a straight shot or a Martini, the more likely it is to be a free pour.

        ---> as an aside, I have had OUTSTANDING cocktails made using BOTH methods.

        That said, NOTHING in a bar or restaurant is more profitable than distilled spirits (though, depending upon the establishment and the beer, draught beer may be #1). Let's just leave it at "the markup is huge." But often what you are referring to as "the jigger method" is something imposed not by managers but by owners seeking to maximize profits. Think, for example, of the bars in Las Vegas or elsewhere where the "house" spirits are shot through a gun like cola, soda, tonic, etc., and automatically "shut off" after a certain volume is dispensed.

        4) An observation (as, obviously, I wasn't there): >>> There have been a few exceptions, such as the bartender I had a few weeks ago who only used a two second count for my martinis. In contrast, I have seen some bartenders use at least a five second count. <<<

        When learning their craft, one of the "tricks" often employed is to mentally count as one is pouring a shot. Thus, one gets to the point where an accurate (in terms of volume) shot can be pours using a ___-count. The timing will, naturally, vary depending upon whether or not a pourer has been inserted into the neck of the bottle or not, let alone the type of pourer, etc.

        5) A second observation: >>> I might add that the longer the pour count, and the stronger my martini, the greater is my tip. Sometimes I tip as high as 50%. <<<

        So, in other words, you want lots of gin, and you are rewarding the bartender for "stealing" from his/her employer by pouring you more than a shot (double? triple?) but only pouring for one.

        ---> I'm curious: why don't you order straight gin?

        ---> I'm even more curious: why don't you just pour yourself straight gin at home? Not only can you drink all the gin you want, but you won't risk getting popped for being "Drunk in Public" (e.g.: §647(f) California Penal Code).

        6) Yet another observation: >>> I live in what is known as the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia, which is also located in walking distance from downtown. I might add that Norfolk was ranked last year as the second drunkest city in America by the Daily Beast. <<<

        Why am I not surprised. ;^)

        /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

        OK, enough fun and games.

        I don't often go out to drink, but I frequently go out to dinner where I will often have a cocktail and/or a glass/bottle of wine, etc. (The difference is that I rarely go out to a bar, have one, two, three cocktails and then walk/drive home.) There are certainly times when I have gone to (for lack of a better term) a "craft" bar -- one specializing in great, innovative cocktails, as opposed to the "corner bar" -- before continuing on to dinner, but a bar is rarely the prime destination in and of itself.

        But for me it's all about quality, not quantity, and it's *never* about getting loaded, drunk, inebriated, or intoxicated.

        Serious answer: I honestly don't care if the bartender is free pouring or measuring when I'm having a cocktail. What I *do* care about is the quality of what's in my glass, and as long as the drink is excellent, what does it matter?

        1 Reply
        1. re: zin1953

          Hello zin1953:

          Many thanks for your comments and feedback. I will try to address some of your points below:

          First, I never make a martini at home because I never drink at home. I live alone and I do not drink alone. I only drink in the company of others at a good bar/restaurant or in somebody else's home.

          Second, I understand your point in regard to the desirability of jiggers and similar measurement devices for more complex drinks with a greater number of ingredients, in which a higher degree of precision and balance is more crucial.

          Perhaps, I should have qualified this discussion as applying to martinis only. I rarely order such "complex" drinks and pretty much stick to my favorite martini instead, which is a Hendricks Gin Martini, up and very dry, with a cucumber slice on the rim.

          Next, I am not so sure that I am encouraging the bartender to "steal" from his or her employer by pouring me an extra shot or two with my generous tips. At my favorite local bar and restaurant, which is located only a five minute walk away from my home, the manager is very often sitting at the bar and watching the bartender prepare my martinis. Sometimes he will even buy me one.

          I guess I could just order "straight gin." But there is something about the visual appeal and mystique of a drink prepared in martini glass that draws me to ordering them.

          Finally, if Norfolk is ranked #2, then I guess we will just have to try harder. :)

          Seriously speaking, I only drink when eating out for my evening dinner meal. To me, the quality of the food comes first. A restaurant that serves strong drinks and crappy food is still a crappy restaurant. I like to eat at the best restaurants in my area, where the food is consistently excellent and the martinis are consistently and pleasantly strong. I agree with you that quality comes first.

          At my top two favorite restaurants, I always have a decent buzz by the end of my first martini. There are times when I don't even want a third martini. On these occasions, the second one took care of me just fine, and a third one would only amount to "diminishing returns."

          If I don't have a buzz by the middle of my second martini, however, then something is wrong, which is usually a quick or brief pour count in my area.

          At the restaurant I complained about in my original post, I barely had a buzz at all by the end of my third martini. This is the one where the bartender used the jigger method.

          This was the only restaurant I have been to this year in which the jigger method was used to prepare my martinis. And I am still wondering why this restaurant suddenly decided to switch from the free pour method to the jigger method when making martinis. As a result, their martinis are nowhere as strong as they were before.

          This restaurant faces stiff competition from the one located right across the street, where their martinis are prepared with the free pour method and are at least twice as strong. Just saying.

          By the way, I always eat at the bar when I eat out. I always get better service this way, and I have a greater opportunity to socialize with my fellow bar patrons. Once again, I never drink home alone.

          Thanks again for your comments!

          PP

        2. Sounds like you like a strong drink so you can get drunk fast. Not a well made, consistent, and well balanced drink.

          I on the other hand like excellently made cocktails that I can appreciate and enjoy. Not huge amounts of cheap booze.

          16 Replies
          1. re: JMF

            Hello JMF,

            You are right on one point. I do like a strong drink. But I do not like to "get drunk fast."

            Instead, I like to sip my martinis slowly. The slower, the better. I always order mine with my dinner meal. I like one before my entree, or during my appetizer if I am having one, and another one during my entree.

            Sometimes I will order a third if I am enjoying the company at the bar. If something on the dessert menu sounds good, I will often order a Manhattan instead. The best Manhattans I have been served in my area have also been prepared with the "free pour" method.

            My usual martini is a Hendricks Gin martini, prepared up and very dry, with a cucumber slice on the rim instead of muddled. Hendricks Gin is not exactly what I would call "cheap booze."

            Last week I went to a different bar and ordered a Hendricks Gin martini as described above. However, the bartender informed me they had no cucumbers in stock. So, he offered to make me one with St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur. It was okay, but a little too sweet for my taste.

            I usually spread out my consumption of my three martinis, or my two martinis and one Manhattan, over about a time period of an hour and a half. Then I leave and walk home.

            .

            1. re: PontiusPalate

              How many oz. of gin would you say are in this "martini"?

              1. re: JMF

                JMF,

                I can't answer for sure.

                All I know is that my favorite bartenders fill my standard conical or coupe Martini glass as close to the rim as possible without it spilling over the edge.

                But I don't mind about a quarter of an inch of space between the top surface of the drink and the rim of the glass. Sometimes I will even let a half of an inch slide, but no more than that.

                The only time I have ever complained was the time my Martini was served to me only half full.

                Then there was the time I caught one bartender squirting soda water into my Martini to make it look more full. I never went back.

              2. re: PontiusPalate

                OK, I re-read this and confess to having surrendered to my more base impulses . . .

                >>> Hendricks Gin is not exactly what I would call "cheap booze." <<<

                What does price have anything to do with wanting to enjoy straight "gin" (if you can call it that)?

                For example, Gordon's and Seagram's Extra Dry are two fines which are not only very affordable, but "play far above their weight division," as fas as quality it concerned.

                Are we more concerned with the quality of what's in one's cocktail glass (i.e.: the quality of the final drink itself), or the quantity of alcohol one gets for the amount of money one puts down on the bar?

                1. re: zin1953

                  And I LOATHE Hendricks cause I LOATHE cucumber. My everyday vodka is Smirnoff...cause I like the taste. A friend/former nabe loved Belvedere and I kept it on hand for her but actively didn't like it.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I dislike Hendrick's as well. It is inconsistent and can sometimes taste medicinal, and I don't like the cucumber flavor either.

                    1. re: JMF

                      While I do find it to be "stretching things a bit" to include Hendricks in the gin category, that's just me personally. The world certainly accepts it as a "gin."

                      As far as the OP's taste in gin is concerned, everyone likes what he or she likes -- and this is why there is more than one type of gin in the marketplace. No one has to agree with *my* personal taste preference(s).

                      Though I am frequently reminded of that wonderful example of graffiti I saw in the late 1960s: "Eat $#|+! 50 million flies CAN'T be wrong!"

                      1. re: JMF

                        JMF,

                        Just curious. What is your favorite gin?

                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                          When I want a London Dry I have Gordon's which I consider the benchmark for London Dry.

                          If I want a new style gin I like Tuthilltown Half Moon Orchard gin, Greenhook, Sipsmith's, several of the Sacred gin's, Knickerbocker... and a few others.

                            1. re: jpc8015

                              Another benchmark London Dry gin...

                            2. re: PontiusPalate

                              >>> JMF, Just curious. What is your favorite gin? <<<

                              Again, I'm not JMF -- actually, I'm JBL -- but can I play?

                              Evolution is constant. That means that, while some gins are indeed "benchmark," an individual's tastes continue to change and "evolve" over a lifetime.

                              So, for Dry Martinis, I want a "London Dry" Gin, and my "go to" gin was long Bombay (regular, not Sapphire), but would occasionally drift to Boodle's or Beefeater. Recently, however, I returned to Gordon's and both my taste buds and my wallet are very happy. ;^)

                              For what I refer to as a "Venetian Martini"¹ -- not for the hotel-casino, but merely because that's what the bar in which I first had it called the drink -- I usually use No. 209, sometimes Plymouth. The same holds true for a Negroni.

                              For a Gin & Tonic, it's often Tanqueray.

                              All this applies to what i make at home.

                              If I am in a "craft" bar -- i.e.: one that takes its cocktails seriously -- what gin I get depends . . . often, if the gin is specified in the description of the drink, I'll go with that one. If it isn't, I'll often ask the bartender what gin he or she suggests works best in that particular cocktail and (as long as it's not Hendricks . . . seriously) I'll generally go with their recommendation.

                              _______________
                              ¹ 4 ounces of No. 209 (or Plymouth) Gin, 1.5 ounces of Caprano Formula Antica Vermouth, lemon peel.

                            3. re: JMF

                              Before I developed a liking for Hendrick's, my gin of choice was Bombay Sapphire. Before Bombay Sapphire, it was Tanqueray. Now both Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray taste "medicinal" to me.

                            4. re: c oliver

                              I didn't like Hendrick's Gin until about a year ago.

                              I could never understand what all the fuss was about with respect to Hendrick's Gin and cucumbers.

                              I had tried a couple of Hendrick's Gin Martinis with a cucumber slices and was not impressed.

                              Then I had another one about a year ago, and it was like an epiphany.

                              Hendrick's Gin has been my choice of gin ever since.

                            5. re: zin1953

                              Quality comes first.

                              That's why my favorite Gin at this time is Hendrick's.

                              It's the best I've had so far.

                              Quantity comes in second place.

                              Two ounces of Hendrick's Gin is better than one.

                        2. The following is an interesting article on the free pour vs. jigger debate:

                          http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/07...

                          PP

                          44 Replies
                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                            This seems to be the opposite of what you prefer. The article claims that free pouring is as accurate as measuring. I'd prefer if he backed that claim up with a demonstration or research.

                            You seems to like free pouring because it *isn't* as accurate -- because you get more of your one-ingredient preferred drink. For your drink, measuring isn't about balance or recipe, it's about portion size.

                            So, sure, if I'm ordering a Lagavulin neat and the bartender wants to count to 10, I'm delighted. But then I've also gotten free-poured expensive spirits where I have no idea if I got a fair pour.

                            The other 99% of the time that I'm ordering a drink at a good bar, I expect them to measure it. Then I know whether I like their recipe or not. If they free pour I have no idea if this drink is predictive of how the recipe tastes.

                            If you see someone free pouring onto ice without a pourer, you know they are guessing. You cannot predict the volume of ice by looking because it depends about how it is lying in the glass.

                            --
                            www.kindredcocktails.com

                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                              >>> The other 99% of the time that I'm ordering a drink at a good bar, I expect them to measure it. Then I know whether I like their recipe or not. If they free pour I have no idea if this drink is predictive of how the recipe tastes. <<<

                              Nor do you know if the drink will be the same the next time you go . . .

                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                Theoretically, I agree that a drink prepared with the free pour method should be equal in strength and measure with one prepared with the jigger method.

                                I was speaking only on behalf of Martinis, a point which I should have made more clear in my original post.

                                In actual practice, the Martinis in my area which have been prepared with the free pour method have been substantially stronger overall than those prepared with the use of a jigger.

                                Of the approximately 40 restaurants with full bar service within a two mile radius of my home, I can only think of one bar in which this was not the case. This was the bar where the bartender made my Martini with a quick pour count which looked like it was about two seconds.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Many of the bartenders in my area know my preferences and get my first Martini started the minute I walk through the door.

                                  Whenever I encounter a new bartender who asks me what I want, I usually say:

                                  "I would like a Hendricks Gin Martini, up and very dry, with a cucumber slice."

                                  Most of the time I get it served accordingly, and with a decent pour count and satisfactory strength.

                                  I have never had one that wasn't served cold and didn't stay nice and cool until the very last sip.

                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                    Aside from the preference for Hendricks -- yes, I know, it's a personal thing -- it's always nice to go where everybody knows your name.

                                    Still . . .

                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                      How long does it actually take you to drink one of those "martini's"?

                                      What temp. do you think the cocktail was served at?

                                      And what temp. throughout the consumption?

                                      And the temp. of the last sip?

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        Hello JMF,

                                        Although I have never really timed myself, I would say that it takes me anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to finish each of the Martinis served at the bar of one of my favorite restaurants. I usually take longer to drink the second one, as I am usually eating my meal at the same time.

                                        If I arrive at 8:00 p.m., and drink two Martinis that night, I am usually out the door no later than 9:15 p.m. after paying my bill. If I have three Martinis, or two Martinis and one Manhattan, I am usually out the door by 9:45 p.m.

                                        I have never conducted a temperature measurement of my Martinis or Manhattans before, during, or after my last sip. All I know is that they have maintained a temperature that has been pleasantly cool enough to leave me satisfied and without complaint.

                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                          A classic Martini has apx. 2-3 oz. gin, and apx. .5-1 oz. vermouth.

                                          A 3 oz. serving of gin is probably way too small according to your descriptions.

                                          Cocktail temp. info:

                                          3 oz. gin, stirred on ice for 30 seconds, poured into a room temp. (70.5F) Rona Classic series Cocktail glass is 27F. Room temp. constant at 70.5F. No touching of glass or sipping. So the cocktail is at the coldest possible temp. for the situation.

                                          At 3.5 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 36F

                                          At 6 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 39F

                                          At 8 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 41F

                                          At 10 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 43.5F

                                          At 13 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 46F

                                          At 15 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 48F

                                          At 18 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 50F

                                          At 20 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 52F

                                          At 23 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 53F

                                          At 25 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 54.5F

                                          At 28 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 56F

                                          At 30 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 56.5F

                                          At 35 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 58F

                                          At 40 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 60F

                                          Rona Classic series Cocktail glass, see pic.

                                           
                                          1. re: JMF

                                            Hello JMF,

                                            Many thanks for the information you have provided above.

                                            This is very educational to me, and I have printed this out for my "Martini files."

                                    2. re: PontiusPalate

                                      Cold gin in a cocktail glass is Gin, Up. Not a Martini. Doesn't matter if the bars in your area call it a Martini, it isn't.

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        I know you don't toot your own horn (much!) but hopefully OP has picked up on the fact that this is your profession.

                                        1. re: JMF

                                          Hello JMF,

                                          I don't understand.

                                          I've been reading up on various definitions of a Martini online, such as the following:

                                          "Martini -- A cocktail made with gin and vermouth and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist."

                                          How and why does it being served "up" not make it a Martini?

                                          I can accept that if I have a Martini without any vermouth whatsoever, with 100% gin, then it no longer satisfies the definition of a Martini.

                                          But as long as it contains even just a drop of vermouth, isn't it still a Martini, according to the definition above?

                                          Does the fact that I like my Hendricks Gin Martini with a cucumber slice, instead of an olive or a lemon twist, not make it a Martini?

                                          Please explain. Thanks.

                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                            >>> How and why does it being served "up" not make it a Martini? <<<

                                            Re-read JMF's post. That is not what he said.
                                            ______

                                            "Cold gin in a cocktail glass is Gin, Up.

                                            [It is n]ot a Martini."
                                            _____

                                            Any drink served in a glass with no ice is "up," so any Martini I've ever had (or made) has been served "up" (as opposed to "on the rocks").

                                            /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                                            >>> But as long as it contains even just a drop of vermouth, isn't it still a Martini, according to the definition . . . <<<

                                            IIRC, there was a scene in a Cary Grant movie -- or maybe it was one of The Thin Man films -- where someone just waved the cork from the vermouth bottle over the pitcher of ice and gin and claimed that was enough gin for him!

                                            I am not JMF -- and lord knows he knows far more about spirits than I do! -- and he is certainly free to speak for himself, but let me attempt to answer your question anyway . . . by first, let me ask you a question:

                                            Why is the vermouth present in the first place?

                                            Let's ignore the fact that you claim not to like the taste of vermouth --

                                            >>> I really don't like the taste of vermouth. Therefore, I usually ask for my martinis to be prepared extra dry. If I can taste the vermouth, then it is too much. <<<

                                            -- and focus on why it's there in the first place. It *does* play an important role.

                                            The original Martini was made with Vermouth that was much sweeter than today's popular Dry Vermouth, so the term "Dry Martini" originally meant "use that dry type of vermouth," rather than "more gin, less vermouth" as the term "Extra Dry Martini" has come to mean today. The aromatics and flavors of the vermouth play off those in the gin, and softened the (frequently harsh) finish of straight gin. It was a cocktail, not straight gin.

                                            >>> Sometimes I even ask for no vermouth. <<<

                                            Yes, well, straight gin is certainly different than a Martini . . .

                                            1. re: zin1953

                                              Hello zin1953,

                                              I enjoyed you description of the scene in the movie you described.

                                              I have actually given up asking for "no vermouth" when I order a Martini. It was making some of my bartenders nervous. Some of our local bartenders are young women in their early to mid twenties. Some of them are bartending in order to help pay for their college expenses.

                                              On the other hand, my favorite bartender in the area is one with several years of experience working in bars in NYC and Miami. She definitely knows her stuff, and watching her in action is like poetry in motion.

                                              I now ask for "extra dry" when ordering a Martini. As a result, I am no longer being assaulted with that unpleasant vinegary taste which has resulted from too much vermouth. As long as I can't really taste it, then I am fine.

                                              The so called "aromatics" and flavors in vermouth have never done anything for me. On the other hand, I do like the "aromatics" present in Hendrick's Gin.

                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                >>> I now ask for "extra dry" when ordering a Martini. As a result, I am no longer being assaulted with that unpleasant vinegary taste which has resulted from too much vermouth. <<<

                                                Then, CLEARLY, you have been going to bars where Martinis aren't very popular. There is NOTHING at all that is "vinegary" about Vermouth . . . unless it is improperly stored, ill-treated, and sits around for months . . . clearly a possibility in Norfolk, as I'm not sure your average "swabbie" drinks Martinis . . . then again, perhaps they do.

                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                  A number of fine wines taste "vinegary" to me as well. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are "vinegary."

                                                  It just means they taste that way to me, as does vermouth. I have never been a wine person and never will be.

                                                  You are right on point. The average "swabbie" here in Norfolk does not drink a lot of Martinis. Beer is their most popular beverage by far.

                                                  There are beer people, wine people, and cocktail people when it comes to their predominant alcoholic beverage of choice.

                                                  In Norfolk, there are more beer people than wine and cocktail people. And there are more wine people than cocktail people.

                                                  When I go into the bar of a restaurant, I am often the only one who is drinking a Martini.

                                                  Several people have tried to convert me to wine. I even joined a wine club for a while in order to develop a greater appreciation for wine.

                                                  I have sampled a number of fine wines at our wine club events. A typical event for our wine club includes a full course dinner and 6 glasses of wine.

                                                  I always left these events wishing that I had a couple of Martinis instead of those 6 glasses of wine.

                                                  It's just not the same,

                                                  I will concede that Norfolk has a lot of catching up to do on the cocktail front.

                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                    >>> A number of fine wines taste "vinegary" to me as well. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are "vinegary." <<<

                                                    Yes, well, "vinegary" means something VERY specific, and proper terminology is important. (Next time you have some Hendricks, try it with a pickle slice instead of a cucumber . . . after all, same thing, right?

                                                    >>> When I go into the bar of a restaurant, I am often the only one who is drinking a Martini. <<<

                                                    Which is why the vermouth probably IS vinegary!

                                                    >>> I have never been a wine person and never will be. <<<

                                                    Actually, that's fine with me.

                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                      Nope.

                                                      Pickles and cucumbers are not the same to me.

                                                      I love cucumbers.

                                                      I hate pickles.

                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                        >>> I love cucumbers. I hate pickles. <<<

                                                        Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)
                                                        Pickle, aka Pickled Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          Sorry, zin. I hate cucumbers but like pickles just fine.

                                                2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                  You obviously haven't ever had a quality and well cared for vermouth, if you say vermouth is vinegary.

                                                  Vermouth is basically a delicate, herbal, white wine; with a pleasant hint of oxidation.

                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                    "On the other hand, my favorite bartender in the area is one with several years of experience working in bars in NYC and Miami. She definitely knows her stuff, and watching her in action is like poetry in motion."

                                                    If this bartender is so good, ask for a proper, classic dry martini, 3.5-4 oz. premium gin with some flavor to 1-1.5 oz. Dolin dry vermouth, and a dash of Angostura Orange or Regan's orange bitters. Stirred, strained into a chilled cocktail glass, garnished with an expressed lemon peel wiped around the rim.

                                                    Then talk about Martini's...

                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                      JMF,

                                                      Okay, will do.

                                                      If she does not have all of the ingredients to make this one, then I know of another bar in downtown Norfolk that probably does. It's a very high end restaurant and bar, one I haven't been to yet.

                                                      I have made a copy of your recipe above for my files.

                                                      Thanks!

                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                        If she is as good a bartender as you say, she'll have all the ingredients . . .

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          She has the skills. However, the bar where she works is more of a wine bar than a cocktail bar. Wine is prioritized there over spirits. As a result, their selection of spirits, vermouth, etc., is limited by whatever the owner allows to be ordered.

                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                            And you go to a wine bar for a Martini because . . . ???

                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                              Yeah, that had occurred to me also.

                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                For the following reasons:

                                                                1) It's the closest restaurant and bar to my home and only a five minute walk away.

                                                                2) They serve the best fresh seafood specials within a two mile radius of my home.

                                                                3) They paid for my entire meal on my last birthday.

                                                                4) Sometimes their waitresses will come over and scratch my back while I am seated at the bar.

                                                                5) They have told me that I am "family."

                                                                6) Their bartender is one of the best in the area. She was one of five finalists in a recent regional cocktail contest. Bartenders from several neighboring cities had applied. Although her talents would probably be better utilized in a cocktail bar, I'm glad she is where she is right now.

                                                        2. re: JMF

                                                          That is a great martini and what I make at home. Measured.

                                                          Tomorrow morning I will be at Tales of the Cocktail in a gin class at 10:30. I promise I won't be wanting a Martini for lunch!

                                                          1. re: collardman

                                                            I'm missing Tales this year. I had to make a last minute cancellation. Have fun.

                                                          2. re: JMF

                                                            JMF,

                                                            This recipe is sounding better and better to me all the time.

                                                            3.5 to 4 ounces of gin sounds like a whole lot more than the amount of gin I had at that bar which made my Martini with only one jigger full of gin.

                                                            I also like the idea of the orange bitters and the lemon peel wiped around the rim.

                                                            It does sound like Hendrick's would not go well with the orange bitters.

                                                            I also forgot to mention in this thread that I HATE olives. A Martini with olives is an abomination to me. The very sight of olives grosses me out.

                                                            If a bar is out of Hendrick's Gin, then I usually ask for Bombay Sapphire and ask for a lemon twist.

                                                            Thanks again for your recipe.

                                                            PP

                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                              I only made those numbers with so much gin because you say that the bars serve you cocktails filled to the rim of the glass. Since most "conical" martini glasses hold at least 8 oz. you would need that much gin, plus vermouth. plus a long stir for the beneficial dilution and chilling, to fill the glass. A normal classic martini would be more like:

                                                              2.5 oz. gin
                                                              1 oz. dry vermouth
                                                              1 dash orange bitters

                                                              stirred on ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon peel garnish.

                                                              My current fav is to use Tuthilltown Half Moon Orchard gin and Dolin dry vermouth, with Angostura Orange bitters. Although Greenhook or Knickerbocker gins are mighty tasty too.

                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                JMF,

                                                                Many thanks for clarifying the numbers and proportions for a "normal classic martini."

                                                                About ten years ago, I had a martini (or a cocktail if you prefer) which used Sake instead of Vermouth, and with pickled ginger slices as a garnish. I can't remember whether gin or vodka was used.

                                                                Ever heard of a drink like that?

                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                  Yes, it is the most basic and classic Saketini. Usually made with vodka, but much better with a floral gin.

                                                                  Proportions can vary from 2.5 oz. sake : 1 oz. vodka/gin to .5 oz. sake : 2 oz. vodka/gin.

                                                                  I like using
                                                                  2 oz. of a junmai sake
                                                                  1 oz. floral gin
                                                                  with a just a scant dash of yuzu juice

                                                                  Stirred preferably, but can be shaken and fine strained.

                                                                2. re: JMF

                                                                  Had some Broker's gin today. They are dropping a ton of money with a large hospitality room.

                                                                  The gin is good. very smooth and "light". It is supposed to have 6 or more botanicals in it but the blend is not heavy on the juniper or any others. It was nice neat and would work nicely as a pink gin with various bitters. My one complaint is it is 94 proof so one must be a bit careful on how many you drink.

                                                                  As you know, the town is full of bar tenders this week, We were at Chris McMillans place for lunch and all the bar tenders used measured pours. (PP, Chris is one of the top five bartenders and drink historians in New Orleans. Having him make you a cocktail on a slow night when he can spin tales is a treat.)

                                                                  Another note on mixing a drink is the ice. I sampled a Pernod Absinthe with lime cocktail that was served on the rocks. I set it aside and 3 hours later there was still cubed ice in the glass. There are machines that make pure ice that lasts.

                                                                  1. re: collardman

                                                                    94 proof is a classic gin proof. 80 proof gin is an American market thing.

                                                                    1. re: collardman

                                                                      I'm friends with Chris. I really miss not being at Tales this year. This is only the second time I have missed it in 7-8 years.

                                                                      Sounds like the ice was from a Kold-Draft or Hoshizaki ice machine. Or else hand cut from block ice made in a Clinebell machine.

                                                                      1. re: collardman

                                                                        I like Brokers. Three or four years ago you could get some real good deals on it. Now, it is no big secret, and is priced about where it should be.
                                                                        But my take is that it is a classic London Dry style, heavy on the juniper.

                                                                        1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                          Agree. It used to be my go to for a gin and tonic.

                                                                          I do get a stronger hit of what I think is witch hazel in Brokers than in many other gins. But I'm with you with regards to the juniper being very forward in Brokers.

                                                                          1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                            I think the balance takes away the juniper for me. It's not like something like Citadel with botanical overload.

                                                                            But gin has now gone all over the place from London dry.

                                                                            Part of the presentation was some great photos of the restored gin palaces in London (and Dublin). Made me want to hop a plane just for an architecture tour.

                                                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                              Agreed for me as well. Smooth, juniper-forward, but I do think it's has a somewhat oily and heavy mouthfeel, which isn't so much a complaint as it is an observation that may not appeal to some folks. I think it makes an excellent Martini though I prefer my go-to, Boodles, or Plymouth, thought the price of the latter has basically made it something I used only in specific things and not for a regular occasion Martini.

                                                                        2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                          Do you like cocktail onions? If so, then ask for a Gibson. Martini with onions instead of olives.

                                                          3. re: PontiusPalate

                                                            It isn't really a debate. Top bartenders know who can do perfect free pours, and who can't. I teach jiggering as a mandatory and consistent factor. I also teach free pouring once a bartender has a solid knowledge and understanding. But don't let them use free pouring until they can hit my exacting standards time and again. So far I have had very few be able to do that. And none of those free pours, except to practice. They count their pours every time, but since they value the consistency and quality of the cocktails, they do this into a jigger. But they let their soul into the equation as well.

                                                            There are very few folks such as Michael Neff at Ward III, or all the bartenders at Employees Only, who put as much effort into their free pouring. They train constantly to maintain accuracy. The average bartender doesn't even have all the same pour spouts in their bottles. So each bottle pours at a different speed. (By the way, I have seen Michael using jiggers. So it isn't an all or nothing thing.)

                                                            In the photo in the article Michael is using spill-stop 285-50 pour spouts. These accurately pour 1 ounce per four seconds. They are basically the only make and model that are highly dependable. It still takes weeks of constant practice to be able to get within 1/8 of an ounce each time. Let alone the 1/16th or less of an ounce that many fine cocktails require.

                                                            The bar staff at Employees Only all free pour. They also have to apprentice for literally years before they become bartenders. They get tested each week, and are expected to be perfect on their pours.

                                                            Whichever style used, a excellent bartender tastes their cocktails, and adjusts as needed. Natural ingredients such as citrus vary from day to day. Eggs can have more or less white. Single barrel or micro batch spirits can differ from bottle to bottle. Ice can be different.

                                                          4. I suggest you don't come to Australia.
                                                            Here, it is against the liquor licensing laws to free pour. You must use a jigger, or preferably, an Electronic Measuring Unit. Not sure if they use them where you are, but they are mounted above the bar and you place the bottle upside down in them, hold the glass to the button and press and the unit measures out exactly 30ml of liquor.

                                                            The old bottle top pourers with the ball bearing for measuring are no longer allowed.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: cronker

                                                              This is the case in MANY nations . . . just not the US.

                                                            2. As others have stated, I think that the free pour method is fine with drinks that are one liquor and a mixer (like a gin and tonic), or one liquor alone (like a bourbon on the rocks). I don't generally drink those types of drinks, however. In Boston, where I live, we have lots of craft cocktail bars making very inventive drinks with multiple ingredients. Measuring is essential in these cases, as the drinks will not be consistent from drink to drink.

                                                              When you order a Manhattan, do you ask for no vermouth? I ask, because you don't want the vermouth in your martini, and I don't know if the sweet vermouth in a Manhattan is OK for you or not. One reason you may not like vermouth is that many bars don't store their vermouth properly (it should be refrigerated), and so you may be getting vermouth from a bottle that's been sitting on a room temp shelf for months. This will seriously alter the taste of the vermouth (and not in a good way). I don't drink Martinis, but my wife does, and she prefers a mix of 2.5 oz gin (generally Bombay Sapphire) to 1 oz vermouth (always Dolin dry-refrigerated). I make Manhattans at 2oz Rye (I prefer it to Bourbon in a Manhattan) and 1 oz Dolin rouge vermouth, and 3 dashes of Angoustura bitters. A Manhattan without the vermouth is cold bourbon (or rye)

                                                              20 Replies
                                                              1. re: kimfair1

                                                                And a martini without vermouth is cold gin. There's nothing wrong with that but why call it something that it's not. It could be a mojito or a Margarita or whatever.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  It's a lot easier to order "a martini, no vermouth, with a twist". Than say "a glass of cold gin, stirred, poured up in a cocktail glass, with a twist".
                                                                  Sometimes being correct, just isn't worth the effort.

                                                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                    It depends upon whether you want to be understood or not . . . I may order a hot dog at the ballpark, but why would I say that when I really wanted a Polish sausage? or a Hot Link? or Andouille? They all look similar, but . . .

                                                                    OTOH, getting EITHER "a martini, no vermouth, with a twist" OR "a glass of cold gin, stirred, poured up in a cocktail glass, with a twist" is considerably cheaper at home -- you night as well as "Why go out?"

                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                      Well....
                                                                      Personally when i order a martini out, i do want the vermouth. I'm just saying why someone would order it that way. It is totally to be understood. Because if you want to be completely correct, then you have to say cocktail glass, not martini glass, and possibly explain what that is, etc., etc.
                                                                      And when i go out, it could be for a lot of reasons, not just to have a certain drink. And every drink that i make at home is considerably cheaper.
                                                                      Your hotdog analogy makes no sense at all. If i want a cold glass of gin up in a cocktail glass, and i order a martini, no vermouth, it is the same thing.(Most bars have no idea about adding orange bitters). If i order a hot dog, but really wanted polish sausage, that would make no sense at all.
                                                                      Once i went into a "martini bar", ordered a beefeaters martini up with olives. The waitress asked me "dry or dirty", which was perplexing as these aren't mutually exclusive, so i asked what she meant. Her reply, dirty had vermouth, dry had none. At that point i could of wasted my time trying to educate her. Instead, i just told her exactly how i wanted it.

                                                                      1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                        I would have figured that "dirty or dry" was asking your sense of humor.

                                                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                          If it's gotten to the point where "dirty" and "dry" are confused then who really gives a rip? For me that remains an argument for ordering exactly what you want, i.e., cold gin, up, in a martini glass with the garnish of one's choice. I was also of the opinion that if you're going to use a 'good' gin then the only acceptable garnish is a twist. But hey what do I know?

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            Part of it comes down to, ordering the right type of drink for the bar you're in.

                                                                            I order cocktails in cocktail bars, beer in beer bars, wine in wine bars... and don't do happy hour or places that have foo foo shots, jello shots, fluorescent liquor, etc.

                                                                            (Although I did have some commercial fine cocktail jello shots recently that kind of blew my mind.)

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              I like em both ways, just depends how I'm feeling that day.
                                                                              Usually at home i do Gordons, Dolin, twist and a dash of orange bitters.
                                                                              After thinking about it. Out to eat i think i prefer olives, for some reason. Maybe because i can feed my date an olive that way ;)

                                                                            2. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                              Ha! Sometimes both (the sense of humor)

                                                                          2. re: zin1953

                                                                            I never drink when I am at home. When I am at home, I usually have water or some type of cold pressed juice with my dinner meal. I only drink when I go out to eat for my evening dinner meal.

                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                              Yes, you said that before, but I remain curious as to why . . .

                                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                                Hello zin1953,

                                                                                I live alone, and I simply do not enjoy drinking alone. Never have.

                                                                                I eat out two to three times a week. When I do, I like to celebrate with two or three Martinis.

                                                                                Another one of my rules is: If I want a Martini or any other kind of cocktail, I have to walk to get it.

                                                                                This helps me to burn off some of the calories from the drinks I consume.

                                                                                For example, I am going out tonight to one of my favorite restaurants and bars, which is a brisk 30-minute walk each way.

                                                                                Burning off the calories from walking gives me a greater sense of well being and the peace of mind that I do not have to worry about being stopped for a DUI.

                                                                      2. re: kimfair1

                                                                        Hello kimfair1,

                                                                        As a result of your post and others, I now have a greater appreciation for the use of jiggers and other measuring devices when preparing more complex cocktails where standards of precision and consistency become more important.

                                                                        I was looking at this issue through the lens of a Martini drinker, as that is what I order about 90% of the time. The vast majority of the bars and restaurants in my neighborhood use the free pour method when making their Martinis.

                                                                        What set me off was that the bar staff at one local restaurant, as mentioned in my original post, suddenly switched from the free pour method to the jigger method when making their Martinis.

                                                                        The result has been Martinis of substantially reduced strength and which are not competitive in strength with the other Martinis in my area. For example, the Martinis prepared at the bar of another restaurant right across the street are now easily twice as strong. Yet, their prices are roughly the same.

                                                                        In regard to Manhattans: I have just looked up the online description of what is now my favorite Manhattan served in my neighborhood. It is described as follows:

                                                                        "Old Overholt Rye, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, house made orange bitters, and ginger puree."

                                                                        This particular restaurant changes their drink menu about four times a year. This one is now their current "house Manhattan."

                                                                        Previously, my favorite Manhattan was called a Mile High Manhattan, described as follows:

                                                                        4 Parts of Maker's Mark Bourbon Whiskey
                                                                        1 Part of Vanilla Liqueur
                                                                        1 Part of Grand Marnier
                                                                        3 or 4 Parts of Anise Flavored Liqueur

                                                                        http://cocktails.about.com/od/whiskey...

                                                                        One of the bartenders in my area was actually making this for a while, before she moved on to another career. As you can see, there is no Vermouth in this one. My bartender was also making this one with the free pour method.

                                                                        However, after asking other bartenders to duplicate it, this one has now grown too sweet for my tastes. The first one I described above with the Old Overholt Rye is now my favorite.

                                                                        I'm pretty sure that the Vermouth made with this one is refrigerated. However, I will make a note to watch for this the next time I order one at the bar of this particular restaurant.

                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                          >>> As a result of your post and others, I now have a greater appreciation for the use of jiggers and other measuring devices when preparing more complex cocktails where standards of precision and consistency become more important. <<<

                                                                          Glad to hear it!

                                                                          >>> I was looking at this issue through the lens of a Martini drinker . . . <<<

                                                                          Keep in mind, too, that Martini "preferences" vary greatly, depending upon the drinker -- and I'm not even talking about the non-Martini drinks called "martini" or have "-tini" tacked onto the back end of their name. Nor am I even entering the Great Gin vs. Vodka debate.¹ But *clearly* you have the ratio of gin to vermouth (2:1; 3:1, 4:1; 11:1², the TYPE of vermouth, the BRAND of vermouth (let alone gin), etc., etc., etc. Some bars may only have one type of vermouth; others may have several, one designated as their "well" vermouth, but others can be "called."

                                                                          __________
                                                                          ¹ OK, I *am* entering it: a "Martini" is Gin. If one prefers vodka, one orders a "Vodka Martini." IMHO, of course.

                                                                          ² Back in the 1960s and '70s, Heublien -- under both the Heublien label of bottled, pre-mixed cocktails, and under the Club label of single-serving cans of pre-mixed cocktails -- sold gin martinis in both a "regular" and 11-to-1 ratio.

                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                            11:1 sounds more to the OPs liking. Why bother? As he said, if he can taste the vermouth then there's too much.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              If I do have a Martini with a ratio of 11:1, then it is still a Martini, right?

                                                                          2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                            That Mile High Manhattan is a cocktail that is similar to a Manhattan in that is has whiskey. That's about all it has in relation to a Manhattan. It isn't even a Manhattan variant, in that to be so it would have to have either all the ingredients and ratios of a Manhattan, plus maybe small amounts of 1-2 other ingredients. Or all but one of the ingredients/ratio of a Manhattan with 1-2 small substitutions. So it may have Manhattan in the name, but that doesn't mean it's a Manhattan.

                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                              Yeah, well . . . that drink sounds gawd-awful to me -- even in an airplane! -- but I didn't want my bias to color my riff on "Manhattans" becoming the whiskey-based "Martinis," i.e.: anything [seemingly] goes.

                                                                              Thanks for chiming in . . . a far better authority than I. ;^)

                                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                                It actually tastes very good, although it is now a bit too sweet for my tastes. I forgot to mention that my bartender garnished this one with a burnt orange peel.

                                                                              2. re: JMF

                                                                                JMF,

                                                                                Does the first Manhattan I described, the one with the Old Overholt Rye, fit your definition of a Manhattan?

                                                                          3. So, just to stir the pot a bit more, are these "martinis" you prefer shaken or stirred? There's a bar near me that free pours, and they make a huge drink. They are nice enough to pour half into the glass, and half into a smaller glass vessel immersed in a ice bucket to keep it cold (same with their Manhattans).

                                                                            39 Replies
                                                                            1. re: kimfair1

                                                                              Stirred or shaken? Was going to be my next question.

                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                      Because she clearly does not like martinis. She likes cold, watered down gin. And lots of it.

                                                                                      I can't say that I would be disappointed if I met a woman like this in a bar.

                                                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                        Ummmm...........As the original poster, I am not a "she."

                                                                                        PP

                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                        Hmmmm..........

                                                                                        In all honesty, I can't remember the last time that I had a Martini that was stirred instead of shaken.

                                                                                        I have read about the commentaries about how the act of shaking allegedly "bruises" a Martini. But I have never had any complaints about the effect that shaking has upon a Martini, either with its taste or texture.

                                                                                        What exactly is it about a Martini that is stirred instead of shaken do you find that makes it superior?

                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                          There is no such thing as bruising.

                                                                                          A shaken cocktail has air incorporated, and ice crystals floating on top. The air lightens the texture, and the ice crystals melt immediately and water it down on top.

                                                                                          Only cocktails with juice, milk, egg, etc. should be shaken, in a full shaker full of ice for 17-20 seconds.

                                                                                          A properly stirred cocktail has a silky/oily feel on the tongue and is very sensual. Cocktails made with all spirits, liqueurs, and vermouth should be stirred. 30-35 seconds in a 90% full cocktail stirring glass of ice.

                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                            JMF,

                                                                                            Any "watering down" effect that the ice crystals have upon my shaken Martinis is minute and barely noticeable.

                                                                                            One thing I do not tolerate are shards of ice floating on top of my Martini. When this happens, I call it to the attention of the bartender. I will admit that the effect of the ice crystals in this case is significant and undesirable.

                                                                                            Most of the local bartenders in my area have been properly trained not to let this happen.

                                                                                            Sometimes my bartender gives me a shot glass of free gin to add to my Martini.

                                                                                            But I will admit that you now have me curious. When I go out to my favorite restaurant and bar this Saturday night, I am going to ask for my first Martini stirred instead of shaken. I want to find out if the difference is a favorable one.

                                                                                            On second thought, make that the second Martini. They always start making my first Martini the instant I step through the door, and it is usually waiting for me at the bar when I sit down. There won't be time to give them enough notice.

                                                                                            I will keep you posted.

                                                                                            PP

                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                              Just make sure it is a real, counted, 30+ second stir, with 90%+ fill of ice. Not one of those crappy 5 second stirs. Just as a shake should be 15+ seconds of hard shaking, with 100%+ fill of ice.

                                                                                              Also, the booze should be measured first, then the ice added. Otherwise you get additional dilution.

                                                                                              There is scientific research behind these numbers.

                                                                                              To keep shards out of a shaken drink, are they double/fine straining through a fine tea type strainer? Or just waiting until they melt before serving?

                                                                                              Just get a great gin. Hendrick's really is mediocre.

                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                JMF,

                                                                                                I may have to go to a different bar and give the bartender the precise instructions you have provided above.

                                                                                                My regular bartender at my favorite restaurant and bar would probably freak out if I gave her these instructions, especially on a very busy Saturday night, which is when I usually go. Maybe I can catch her on a less busy night.

                                                                                                One of the other articles I read mentioned that many bartenders who do a lot of high volume business prefer the free pour method, as it allows them to prepare more cocktails in less time.

                                                                                                This is the case with most of the bars in my area. Our bartenders are accustomed to being slammed with a high volume of customers. The city of Norfolk didn't get named as the 2nd drunkest city in America for nothing.

                                                                                                According to my memory, the thin shards of ice that I used to find floating on top of my Martinis came right out of the shaker and not through any type of fine tea strainer. Fortunately, I have not run into this problem lately.

                                                                                                I am surprised that you and so many others here dislike Hendrick's Gin. It is usually the highest end gin available at most of our local bars.

                                                                                                I am not even sure if any of our local bars even stock some of the other brands you mentioned. But I am willing to ask and find out.

                                                                                                What is your opinion of the following poll?

                                                                                                http://www.thefiftybest.com/spirits/b...

                                                                                                As you will notice, Hendrick's Gin was one of the Double Gold Medal winners.

                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                  Fine straining removes all ice shards. I teach the batrtenders I train to fine strain almost all shaken cocktails. Actually the only 2 that come to mind that I teach not to fine strain are my Cosmopolitan recipe, and the original Corpse Reviver No. 2. Both are meant to be drunk quickly. In the words of the great, classic bartender, Harry Craddock, “The way to drink a cocktail is quickly, while it’s still laughing at you.”

                                                                                              2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                >>> Any "watering down" effect that the ice crystals have upon my shaken Martinis is minute and barely noticeable. <<<

                                                                                                Uh, no.

                                                                                                >>> One thing I do not tolerate are shards of ice floating on top of my Martini. When this happens, I call it to the attention of the bartender. I will admit that the effect of the ice crystals in this case is significant and undesirable. <<<

                                                                                                Ice melt is a key part of making a Martini. (Don't believe me? Keep one bottle of gin in the freezer; another at room temperature. Make two Martinis. Taste the difference.) EXCESSIVE ice melt is to be avoided. Shaking causes excessive ice melt. It's science. It's unavoidable.

                                                                                                >>> Most of the local bartenders in my area have been properly trained not to let this happen. <<<

                                                                                                ROFLMAO!

                                                                                                >>> Sometimes my bartender gives me a shot glass of free gin to add to my Martini. <<<

                                                                                                As I've said elsewhere, why am I not surprised?

                                                                                                >>> I am going to ask for my first Martini stirred instead of shaken. I want to find out if the difference is a favorable one. <<<

                                                                                                Given what you've said so far, I find myself doubting you would like a properly made, classic Martini. That said, I find myself hoping to be proven wrong.

                                                                                                >>> On second thought, make that the second Martini. They always start making my first Martini the instant I step through the door, and it is usually waiting for me at the bar when I sit down. There won't be time to give them enough notice. <<<

                                                                                                I'll send you the money -- just order the second one as soon as you sit down! Taste them side-by-side, not one after the other. Better yet, tell the bartender to make two fresh ones -- one shaken, one stirred -- and don't let you know which is which. Taste them blind.

                                                                                                /\/\/\/\/\

                                                                                                >>> Just get a great gin. Hendrick's really is mediocre. <<<

                                                                                                AMEN to that!

                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                  Hello zin1953,

                                                                                                  Believe it or not, I have been reading some online articles that tend to support what you and JMF are saying.

                                                                                                  Here is one of those articles:

                                                                                                  http://www.drinkspirits.com/gin/james...

                                                                                                  What is your opinion of the Classic Martini recipe given at the end of this article?

                                                                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                    That recipe isn't really classic. The proportions are good, but without the orange bitters, it isn't a classic gin martini recipe.

                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                      Let me answer your simple question ("What is your opinion of the Classic Martini recipe given at the end of this article") in a rather round about fashion . . . and for that, let me apologize in advance.

                                                                                                      My expertise within the "drinks industry" is overwhelmingly rooted in wine. I've spent some 40 years in the trade, working for old-fashioned liquor stores that focused on wine, for wineries, for wholesalers and importers.

                                                                                                      I have a semi-serious wine cellar -- not "high-end, pricey, extravagant" wines but wines nonetheless that benefit from cellaring (as opposed to buying today and pulling the cork tonight). For many years, I rarely if ever had cocktails, favoring instead "straight" distillates (e.g.: Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, and later, Single Malts). My wife, OTOH, enjoys cocktails, and she has slowly expanded my appreciation of the "mixed drink."

                                                                                                      Still, I enjoy my Rye and Bourbon neat, or with very little ice, and have a number of different ones in my liquor cabinet (I rarely drink Scotch anymore), still prefer my Cognacs, Armagnacs, Calvados, and Rhum Agricole¹ in a snifter, and I prefer my vodka neat and straight from the freezer. My favorite cocktails are -- in no particular order, and depending largely upon my mood, the weather, and/or where I am physically in the world -- a Sazerac, Vieux Carrré, Negroni, "gintonica," the occasional Margarita, and a Martini.

                                                                                                      Overall I enjoyed that article very much, and agree -- solidly -- with most of what the author says. (Note: if you look at that picture of Sean Connery as James Bond pouring vodka into a glass, he was drinking the blue label Smirnoff 100-proof, not the red label 80°; I will grant you that might be a little weird for a 10 year old to notice, but I did . . . )

                                                                                                      In terms of the "classic" Martini, while I agree with JMF that it is not THE classic Martini recipe, much depends upon one's definitions. For those professionals within the trade -- bartenders, salespeople, etc. -- that is not a Classic Martini for the reason JMF states: no orange bitters. But for the average consumer, I wouldn't disagree if someone called that a classic Martini.

                                                                                                      One "test," if you will, for distinguishing what I refer to as a "craft" bar from a "regular" one -- that is, one focused on true, hand-crafted cocktails, elevated far above the ordinary (and mundane) -- is their use of orange bitters. Yes, that is an essential part of the true Classic Martini; and no, the average bar doesn't use them.

                                                                                                      Indeed, some bars will -- when someone sits down at the bar and orders "a Martini" -- automatically make their drink with vodka! (Stupid, but true.)

                                                                                                      _______________
                                                                                                      ¹ FWIW, and off-topic, I love Rhum Clément and Rhum Barbancourt (it's Haitian, and not an Agricole), strongly dislike JM Rhum, and most other rums (no "h") as well . . .

                                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                        I find it interesting that you like Clement, but not JM. They are very similar...

                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                          Whoooooops! My bad . . .

                                                                                                          It's a different label -- ***not*** Rhum JM.

                                                                                                          It's that W.A.F.S "Chauffe Coeur Rhum" that I cannot stand! It is harsh and rough, like a raw whacky, rather than smooth and round as a fine Cognac . . . I see no point to this $#|+ whatsoever, but I keep running into it, time and time again, despite its somewhat dubious origin and quality.

                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                Speaking of rum, have you ever had Ma Doudou Rhum?

                                                                                                                http://www.rhummadoudou.com/shop/info...

                                                                                                                My favorite restaurant and bar got some in a few months ago and I tried it.

                                                                                                                I am not really much of a rum person, but I enjoyed this one.

                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                  Ma Doudou isn't actually rum, but a line of rum liqueurs and flavored rums, made with fruit and spices, in St. Martin.

                                                                                                                  They are super small batch. They are made with Domincan white rum.

                                                                                                                  I have only heard of them, but haven't tried them.

                                                                                                              2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                Do you like Demerra rums at all? (El Dorado / Lemon Hart)

                                                                                                                1. re: Dapuma

                                                                                                                  Demerara rums are from Guyana... So I don't understand. Chauffe Coeur Rhum is an agricole from Martinique. (Supposedly anyway, there are some discrepancies from what I remember hearing.)

                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                    It's (allegedly) a Rhum Agricole that is distilled in Martinique, then bottled in France . . . except on one line, the label reads "Produced in Martinique" and on another line, "Produced and Bottled in France." I'm not sure how it can be both . . .

                                                                                                                    The label of Chauffe Coeur states it is "Appellation Rhum Contrôlée," but -- and French law is very strict on this (bear with me here) -- there is no such appellation! The true name is "Appellation Rhum Agricole Martinique Contrôlée" and, under French law, the label must display one of the following options:

                                                                                                                    1) Appellation Rhum Agricole Martinique Contrôlée

                                                                                                                    2) Rhum Agricole
                                                                                                                    Appellation Martinique Contrôlée

                                                                                                                    3) Rhum Agricole Martinique
                                                                                                                    Appellation [d'Origine] Contrôlée

                                                                                                                    [optional]

                                                                                                                    But there is no such thing as Appellation Rhum Contrôlée.

                                                                                                                    See http://www.ministryofrum.com/forums/s... for but one of the many interesting discussions of this product on the web . . . I find the entire discussion (personalities aside) worthwhile, but the last post particularly interesting.

                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                      Yes, I remember reading that on Ed's site many years ago.

                                                                                                                    2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                      I was just curious as zin liked two of my favorite rums (Rhum Clement VSOP and Barbancourt 8y 5 star), and I also really enjoy Demerra rums - It had nothing to do with the conversation per se

                                                                                                                      1. re: Dapuma

                                                                                                                        I really like demerara rums, they are some of, if not in fact my top favorite rums. As you know demerara rums are made in Guyana. Out of the over 200 distilleries originally in Guyana back in the 1700-1800's, there is only one distillery making them anymore. The current distillery bought out all the major distilleries over the years, but kept their equipment, so they can, and do, make any of the old style demerara rums. I use the El Dorado line as my house rums in all the bars I consult with. I also use Lemon Hart 151 a lot as well.

                                                                                                              3. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                Zin1953,

                                                                                                                Many thanks for your commentary, including your "test" for distinguishing a true craft cocktail bar from one which is not, with your primary criterion being their use of orange bitters.

                                                                                                                We have many bars in this area which have their own "in house" cocktail list. These bars may be described by others as craft cocktail bars. But I'm guessing that most of them are probably not true craft cocktail bars.

                                                                                                                I don't even know if Norfolk, Virginia, has a true craft cocktail bar. Many of our bars have a wine list, a craft beer list, and an in-house cocktail list, but with no special emphasis on their cocktails.

                                                                                                                In fact, I'm in the minority most of the time when I go out to these bars. Most people around me order either wine or some type of craft beer while I am sipping on my Martinis.

                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                            So, you want a Martini, shaken, with no vermouth...but...you want it double strained to get rid of any ice crystals? I'm trying to picture the bars you're talking about, and I just can't imagine any of them have fine mesh strainers to double strain.

                                                                                                            I think Hendrick's can be quite tasty in some drinks, but not a Martini. The thing about Hendrick's is not so much that it is "the best" as much as it is a gin with a particular flavor profile. Many classic cocktails were based on London Dry gin and the newer, sweeter, less dry, more floral and/or citrus-forward gins flooding the market today (like Hendricks) simply make those cocktails taste different. A classic example would be a Tom Collins. I use Gaz Reagan's recipe for a Tom Collins with a London Dry, but for Hendricks, I'd knock the simple syrup down by half. I actually think it works nicely in a Tom Collins if made correctly, but you need to compensate for the new flavor profile.

                                                                                                            The thing about tasting competitions is that to some degree (often a large degree) they're basically just marketing gimmicks to get you to think more of a product, and thus shell out more money to buy the product. If you talk to enough experienced bartenders with solid mixology knowledge and experience, you may be surprised to find how many of them repeatedly fall back on classic London Dry gins like Beefeater that aren't as pricey or viewed as being as trendy, but for people in the know, are nonetheless often viewed as some of the best gins out there. Price can also be deceiving. Plymouth is one of my favorite gins, and is widely considered one of the best gins in the world, and yet, for quite a while, it was very cheap. However, after a change in the marketing plan, its' price was nearly doubled due to an effort to rebrand it as a high-end spirit. Did the product change? No...just the price. At its' heart, gin is a relatively cheap liquor to make, much like vodka, and as such, a good deal of the pricing is somewhat arbitrary and reflects how the product is being marketed versus the quality of what's in the bottle.

                                                                                                          2. re: JMF

                                                                                                            After 20 minutes of reading and wondering if this thread was real I was delighted to get information from professional bartenders!

                                                                                                            I love a well-crafted cocktail. I don't get out often, but I have a small collection of spirits and tools and I love nothing better than trying cocktail recipes and mastering them. I have a few mixing beakers (which I use 99% of the time) and a Boston shaker which seems to serve more frequently as a holder of some vintage bar spoons I have than it does shaking cocktails.

                                                                                                            Thank you (and the other bartenders/afficionados/industry professionals here) for sharing your expertise!

                                                                                                            1. re: Susangria

                                                                                                              Hi Susangria,

                                                                                                              My situation is somewhat opposite from yours.

                                                                                                              I don't have any bar equipment whatsoever. I do not keep any kind of alcohol in my home. I do not like to drink at home alone.

                                                                                                              As a result, I go out for dinner two to three times a week and do my drinking seated at the bar of these restaurants.

                                                                                                              My current drink of choice is a Hendricks Gin Martini with a cucumber slice. However, I now see that I am a rut and need to start trying different things.

                                                                                                              I have also learned a lot from this thread. In fact, I have started taking notes from some of the postings and have placed them in a manila file folder titled: "Chowhound On Cocktails And Martinis."

                                                                                                              I now wish I lived in a more advanced craft cocktail city, but I don't.

                                                                                                              Hopefully, things here will improve.

                                                                                                              PP

                                                                                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                Variety is good. I live in a predominantly residential area. Unless I am meeting someone after work, you couldn't pay me to go to a bar for dinner and drinks. I love to come home, relax, try a new food recipe, sometimes I bring work home. I make one drink before I go to bed and enjoy that. It might contain at most 3 to 3 1/2 ounces of booze. I enjoy trying new cocktail recipes and techniques.

                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                  And unlike you, and Susangria, I both keep alcohol at home AND dine out (relatively) frequently . . .

                                                                                                                  Now, admittedly, I *am* a wine guy (having spent 40 years in the wine trade), whereas my wife -- though she enjoys wines -- has been a cocktail person most of her adult life. And as I have educated her (and our children) about wines, she is responsible for opening the World of Cocktails to me.

                                                                                                                  Prior to her, when drinking spirits it was primarily various brandies -- Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, Brandy de Jerez, Californian Alambics, and various eaux-de-vie -- with an occasional after-dinner liqueur, Rhum Agricole, or single malt, served neat. Today, I rarely if ever drink Scotch, still enjoy whiskies straight at home, but now have cocktails out. Wine is enjoyed with dinner, both at home or in restaurants . . .

                                                                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                    I should have been clearer in my post. I dine out once or twice a week, but only if I am meeting people. I don't dine out by myself when I am not traveling. I travel for work a week a month, so I will absolutely dine out then, with or without companions. I love trying new cocktails then re-creating the ones I enjoyed at home. I live on a street where most of us have been neighbors for years, and we will visit one another's homes for a happy hour cocktail or glass of wine.

                                                                                                                    Unlike you, I am not at all a wine person. I do like red wines, but I am clueless about types of wines. I frequent a private club where they have a master sommelier on staff in the dining room, and he is really good about picking wines that I've enjoyed. On my own, I'm a sorry orderer. I do love making sangria, but one's choice of wine as the base is pretty forgiving.

                                                                                                  2. Well, you sure stumbled into a pack of wolves, didn't you?

                                                                                                    Of course, I can only echo most of the erudite comments from the resident experts. While I agree that what you call a martini is what I'd probably call a tragesty (Yeah, I made that portmanteau up), it seems not only seems like that's what you enjoy but you also seem willing to learn more about a traditional/correct martini.

                                                                                                    Stick with what JMF laid out and I think you'll be thrilled.

                                                                                                    One thing I am baffled by, though, is the idea that an essentially pure gin drink somehow tastes weaker or stronger based on amount. Assuming you're just talking gin in a shaker (*shudder*) then there shouldn't be much of a change between 1, 2, or 3 ounces. The amount of ice and shaking time would seem to play a much larger role than the amount of poured spirit. Perhaps there is a real difference in dilution. Perhaps it's a trick of the mind. You see less booze so it tastes weaker. Dunno!

                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                      Greetings cacio e pepe,

                                                                                                      Many thanks for your comments above.

                                                                                                      Pack of wolves? Nah. I don't think so. The experts here seem to be a group of cocktail purists whose knowledge of their craft far exceeds whatever little I know. I have found this to be a very educational discussion.

                                                                                                      In addition, I wish that I lived near where these gentlemen work, so that I can order one of their Martinis and gain a greater firsthand appreciation of what they are talking about.

                                                                                                      On the other hand, I do know what I like. At this point of my personal evolution, I still like Hendricks Gin, I still like the free pour method, and I still like my Martinis shaken instead of stirred.

                                                                                                      In all fairness, I can't remember the last time I have ever had a Martini that was prepared stirred. So, I do owe it to myself to give a stirred Martini a try, if I can find a bartender who is not too busy to make one for me.

                                                                                                      I will try to address the issue above which you said that "baffled" you. It isn't the idea that an essentially pure gin drink tastes weaker or stronger based on the amount.

                                                                                                      Instead, it is based more upon what I call the "buzz factor." Let me explain.

                                                                                                      There is one bar in my neighborhood which consistently fixes a Martini that gives me a buzz during the middle of the first one. This Martini is prepared shaken and with the free pour method.

                                                                                                      It isn't the taste that is stronger. It's the effect. This particular bar is known for fixing the strongest cocktails in my neighborhood.

                                                                                                      In contrast, consider the bar where I had the Martinis prepared with the jigger method, which is located right across the street from the one mentioned above. I barely had a buzz after my third Martini at this bar.

                                                                                                      I was watching their bartender make my Martinis with the jigger method. He only measured one jigger of gin for each of my Martinis. Only one.

                                                                                                      Did this bartender rip me off? Is it customary to fix a Martini with only one jigger of gin? How much gin goes into the largest jigger available at the average bar? In this particular case, it sure didn't look like very much.

                                                                                                      If the "buzz" I had received from the jigger prepared Martini as described above had been equal to the one prepared at the bar right across the street, with the free pour method, then I would not be complaining.

                                                                                                      I don't care where and how the "buzz" comes from -- whether by the free pour method or the jigger method -- as long as the magnitude of the "buzz" is roughly equal from both methods. In this case, it was not even close.

                                                                                                      On the other hand, I did read one article which mentioned that the free pour method gives some customers a psychological impression that they are receiving more alcohol than with the jigger method, whether there is actually more alcohol or not.

                                                                                                      But in the case of the two bars I mentioned above, which are right across the street from each other, the "buzz factor" was substantially greater with the Martinis prepared with the free pour method than the ones prepared with the jigger method.

                                                                                                      This is why I am having such a sour taste in my mouth after my last experience with a jigger prepared Martini.

                                                                                                      What I also find suspicious is that the bar where I had these jigger prepared Martinis used to use the free pour method. All of a sudden, they are now using the jigger method. And as a result, their Martinis are now substantially weaker, not with respect to their respective tastes, but to their comparative "buzz effects", instead.

                                                                                                      Maybe I am wrong, but I suspect that this bar and restaurant may be having financial problems and are now using the jigger method to put a lid on the amount of alcohol that they use. If so, I don't see how they can stay competitive with the bar across the street.

                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                        To clarify one point of confustion:

                                                                                                        When I referred to one Martini being "stronger" than another, I was actually referring to the amount of gin, instead of its perceived taste.

                                                                                                        For example, a Martini which contains 4 ounces of gin would be "stronger" than one which contains 2 ounces of gin, regardless of factors such as dilution and taste.

                                                                                                        I was using the amount of gin in a Martini as a barometer of its strength and not its taste.

                                                                                                        PP

                                                                                                        PP

                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                          You say one jigger of gin. Jiggers come in 2-3 size types. .5 oz. / .75 oz., 1 oz. / 2 oz., .75 oz. / 1.25 oz.

                                                                                                          The first two are the most commonly used. Especially in fine cocktail bars where they will use "Japanese" style jiggers. Those are what I use. (see pic below of my favorite. Copper Japanese jiggers from cocktailkingdom.com.)

                                                                                                          One full jigger, in the traditional sense, means 1.5 oz. But if using the large side of a 1 oz. / 2 oz. jigger would be 2 oz. That is a nice amount of gin in a martini. The classic amount to be exact.

                                                                                                          Most classically constructed cocktails have 1.5 to 2.75 oz. of alcoholic ingredients. with .5 to 1.5 oz. of non-alcoholic ingredients. Coming o a total of 3.25 to 4 oz. of liquid ingredients, before mixing. This then dilutes to an amount that fills a 8 oz. cocktail glass to within a .25"-.5" of the rim.

                                                                                                           
                                                                                                           
                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                            JMF,

                                                                                                            In regard to the jigger shown above at the left:

                                                                                                            What are the portion sizes, in ounces, of both its top and bottom sections?

                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                              the left one is top to bottom .5 oz. / .75 oz.
                                                                                                              the right one is 2 oz. / 1 oz.

                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                JMF,

                                                                                                                Wow!

                                                                                                                I can definitely state that the jigger used to make the martinis at the bar I have been complaining about was NOT the one shown at the right.

                                                                                                                Instead, it looks EXACTLY like the one shown at the left with the 0.5 and the 0.75 ounce measurements.

                                                                                                                If so, then my martinis at this bar were made from the larger end of this jigger, which holds 0.75 ounces, and with only one single jigger.

                                                                                                                No wonder I'm complaining!

                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                  The jigger on the left is tiny. You did not get served from that. not even close. I think you got a 2 oz. pour, maybe a 1.5, but if the jiggers were shaped like those, then you got 2 oz. a normal, respectable, pour.

                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                    JMF,

                                                                                                                    Nope.

                                                                                                                    It was definitely not the 2 ounce size jigger, as shown in your photo, with which those martinis were made.

                                                                                                                    Now maybe.....just maybe.........it did come from a 1.5 ounce jigger. You did not show me a photo of that one.

                                                                                                                    But it definitely was not the 2 ounce size jigger.

                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                      If the jiggers were that tall, Japanese style shape, they do not make a 1.5 oz.

                                                                                                                      They do in this style of crappy jiggers which have been the US norm for a few decades.

                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                        JMF,

                                                                                                                        If the lower section of the jigger shown in your photo above is of a 1.5 ounce size, then the martinis served at the bar I was referring to may very well have been measured by one like the above.

                                                                                                                        PP

                                                                                                      2. I have some observations to make in regard to the demographics of Norfolk, Virginia, including the factors that may play a part in our distinction of being named as the second drunkest city in America.

                                                                                                        Most of those who regularly consume alcohol here in Norfolk appear to belong to one of the following groups:

                                                                                                        1) The sailors.
                                                                                                        2) Students from Old Dominion University (ODU)
                                                                                                        3) The wine snobs.
                                                                                                        4) The hipsters.
                                                                                                        5) Those who prefer cocktails to wine and beer.

                                                                                                        The sailors and ODU students don't seem to care how they get drunk. Beer seems to be their drink of choice.

                                                                                                        Of course, the wine snobs favor wine above anything else.

                                                                                                        The hipsters have a lot of influence here in the Ghent section of Norfolk. They are really into the "craft beer" movement. Most of them seem to know very little about wine and cocktails.

                                                                                                        I might add that the majority of our local bartenders tend to be from the hipster set. This may explain their general lack of expertise when it comes to preparing cocktails and Martinis. This includes the one I caught squirting soda water into my Martini one night. I never went back.

                                                                                                        A few of our local bartenders are exceptions who do have the skills to prepare a decent cocktail and Martini. These are the ones I try to seek out.

                                                                                                        Unfortunately, due to the high volume of customers they have to deal with almost every night, they find that it is a lot quicker to use methods which are not in favor here, such as the free pour method and shaking when preparing Martinis.

                                                                                                        Lastly, there are those who prefer cocktails and Martinis, such as myself. We seem to be in the minority among all of the groups mentioned above.

                                                                                                        I do agree that the city of Norfolk needs to step up its cocktail and Martini game.

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                          I think what is bothering some here is this idea that the free pour drink that you prefer, Hendrinks with very little or no vermouth, shaken, garnished with a cucumber, is somehow "stronger" than the jigger method. It isn't stronger, there's just more gin. If they are using really large conical martini glasses, they may be putting up to 4 or 5 oz of gin rather than the largest jigger, which I believe to be 2 oz. This is why you feel "more buzzed", you're drinking twice as much as the place that gave you 2 oz of shaken gin! Below is a short (1 and a half minute) video from a place here in Boston called Eastern Standard. They crank out a huge amount of business, and the do it right. Naomi, the asst bar manager in the video has made me more great cocktails than I can remember.

                                                                                                          http://vimeo.com/100348177

                                                                                                          1. re: kimfair1

                                                                                                            Kimfair1,

                                                                                                            I think you have hit the nail on the head.

                                                                                                            The Martinis that have given me the greatest "buzz" have been the ones which have used the very large conical Martini glasses, which do contain a substantially greater amount of alcohol.

                                                                                                            I enjoyed the video. That is a bar that I would love to visit someday.

                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                        2. To JMF and others:

                                                                                                          I have recently mentioned that there is one bartender in my neighborhood whose skills I believe eclipse those of all the others. Even though she currently works in what is called a wine bar, I think her skills would be better utilized in a cocktail bar.

                                                                                                          She recently entered a regional cocktail contest, one which also included bartenders from several other cities surrounding the city of Norfolk. She conceived of and submitted a cocktail which made it to the five finalists.

                                                                                                          One stipulation of this contest is that all ingredients had to be made in Virginia. I would welcome your opinion of this cocktail, which is described below.
                                                                                                          __________

                                                                                                          -¾ ounce Raw Summer Thistle Honey (from Golden Angels Apiary in Linnville)

                                                                                                          -1 ounce Virginia Gentleman Virginia Bourbon

                                                                                                          -2 ounces Spirits of the Blue Ridge Vodka

                                                                                                          -Splashes of fresh lemon

                                                                                                          -Lemon twist and cinnamon stick, for garnish

                                                                                                          This cocktail is built in the glass. First, pour honey and bourbon into a rocks glass. With a bar spoon, stir for 15 seconds, then add ice to about 1 inch from the top of the glass.

                                                                                                          Add vodka and 3 drops of fresh lemon juice.

                                                                                                          Submerge cinnamon stick to bottom of glass and use it to stir for another 15 seconds.

                                                                                                          Twist a lemon peel over top of the drink and drop in twist.

                                                                                                          Stir cinnamon stick another 5 seconds and serve.
                                                                                                          __________

                                                                                                          There you have it. As you can see, this is a "stirring" cocktail. I tried one a couple of weeks ago, and it was very good.

                                                                                                          Maybe I will ask her to fix me a "stirred" Martini one night when she is not too busy.

                                                                                                          PP

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                            So that's an Old Fashioned-template drink using honey for the sugar, with citrus aroma, with cinnamon instead of pie-spiced bitters, and with vodka to dilute the flavor of the bourbon. She may be a great bartender, but I don't see this drink as evidence.

                                                                                                            Here's my submission: 2 oz bourbon, the honey, 1/2 oz of lemon, a muddled lemon peel, 1/4 oz of some Angostura-like bitters made in Virginia, and a local whole egg. Dry shake, shake, straight up, sliver of lemon peel garnish.

                                                                                                            --
                                                                                                            www.kindredcocktails.com

                                                                                                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                              Sounds good!

                                                                                                              I was actually surprised that I liked this drink, as I normally don't like vodka.

                                                                                                              I think I like your idea of using all bourbon a little better.

                                                                                                              But I still like the cinnamon stick.

                                                                                                              The bartender told me that she came up with this recipe off the top of her head and that she was shocked when it made the cut to the final five.

                                                                                                              PP

                                                                                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                In case you're curious, here is the drink that came in 1st place in this contest, conceived and submitted by a bartender from Suffolk, VA:
                                                                                                                __________

                                                                                                                -2 ounces Catoctin Creek Organic Mosby’s Spirit white rye whiskey (from Purcellville)

                                                                                                                -1 ounce honey simple syrup** made with honey harvested from John Walters’ hives in Ivor

                                                                                                                -½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

                                                                                                                -Local farm egg white

                                                                                                                -4 dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters (available at www.feebrothers.com

                                                                                                                )

                                                                                                                Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake for about 4 minutes to distribute egg white.

                                                                                                                Pour into chilled coupe.

                                                                                                                **Virginia Honey Simple Syrup

                                                                                                                -4 ounces local honey

                                                                                                                -1 cup of sugar

                                                                                                                -1 cup boiling water

                                                                                                                Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil for five minutes.

                                                                                                                Cool before using.
                                                                                                                __________

                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                                  I agree that the drink she made isn't one showing any skills as a fine cocktail bartender.

                                                                                                                  Just because someone wins a cocktail competition, doesn't mean they are a good bartender, or create well designed cocktails.

                                                                                                                  The great majority of cocktail competitions are for lousy ingredients and judged by folks who don't know cocktails.

                                                                                                                  I've seen dozens and dozens, if not close to 100 cocktail competitions in person over the past decade, and judged quite a few the past 4-5 years. Most of those were pretty great competitions, run by world class quality companies, and with world class judges. But at least a dozen or more were total garbage.

                                                                                                              2. Greetings!

                                                                                                                Here is another very interesting article on the shaking vs. stirring debate when it comes to the preparation of Martinis:

                                                                                                                http://gizmodo.com/5897248/shaken-or-...

                                                                                                                One conclusion reached from the experiments described in this article is as follows:

                                                                                                                "In other words, shaking just ice and alcohol can cut a spirit's potency nearly in half, and which dilutes a drink 1.75 times more than stirring it does."

                                                                                                                If this is true, then this is the best argument I've heard yet in favor of stirring over shaking.

                                                                                                                However............

                                                                                                                The article also states: "But a martini glass is only so big."

                                                                                                                Yes but..........

                                                                                                                There is a significant variation in the size of the martini glasses used in the bars in my neighborhood.

                                                                                                                One particular bar I mentioned earlier does use these extra large conical martini glasses. This is the bar I compared earlier to the other bar which I mentioned which was the last one to use the jigger method on me.

                                                                                                                As kimfair1 pointed out, these glasses can contain a significantly greater amount of alcohol than the largest jigger.

                                                                                                                From my experience, the Martinis prepared with these larger conical shaped glasses, combined with the longer pour counts and the shaking procedure, are the ones which give me the greatest buzz, thus overcoming the greater dilution factor in the shaking process.

                                                                                                                This is especially true of that one particular bar I mentioned earlier, in which I usually begin to feel a "buzz" during the middle of my first one. I might also add that their Martinis are also filled close to the rim.

                                                                                                                Why should I pay the same price for the Martini prepared at the bar which last used the jigger method on me (in which three of their Martinis barely gave me a buzz), as the one whose Martini usually gives me a "buzz" in the middle of the first one? I'm getting less bang for my buck.

                                                                                                                If there was a law that mandated that all Martinis were required to be prepaed in glasses of the same size and shape, and therefore volume, then I have no doubt that I would prefer the stirring method, due to the decreased dilution factor described in this article.

                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                  The article you link to has one major problem. They didn't use enough ice. Five 25 gm cubes, is about half the amount of ice needed for making a quality cocktail.

                                                                                                                  The less ice you have, the more dilution you get. Sounds weird, but the more ice in the shaker, the faster the temp. drops, the less dilution. The less ice, the slower the temp. drops, the more dilution.

                                                                                                                  Once the temp. is as low as it can get, for the alcoholic strength of the ingredients, dilution stops. The cocktail hits homeostasis.

                                                                                                                  Research shows a shaken cocktail gets to 90-95% homeostasis in around 17-20 seconds, full homeostasis in around 20-25 seconds. A stirred cocktail gets to about 80-85% homeostasis in around 35 seconds, full homeostasis in about four minutes.

                                                                                                                  Stirring takes more time to hit homeostasis. But, if you were to shake a cocktails until homeostasis, or stir, dilution would be the same. But 85% of the way in a stirred cocktail is fine, because stirred cocktails are better a bit less dilute.

                                                                                                                  Shaken cocktails are better a bit more dilute because of the ingredients. Citrus, dairy, etc. benefit more from the dilution. Otherwise the cocktail wouldn't taste properly balanced.

                                                                                                                  Oh, by the way, a cocktail that has hit 85-90%+ homeostasis can sit undisturbed in the shaker/stirring glass for at least a minute or more, without changing. At an average indoor temp. of around 70-75F. No more dilution, no warming up.

                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                    Another problem is that they talk about a 4 oz. cocktail/glass. A 4 oz. glass hasn't been popular for cocktails since the late 19th century.

                                                                                                                    A bad bartender has extra leftover cocktail that gets thrown out because they aren't measuring.

                                                                                                                    A good bartender measures so that the cocktail is a perfect pour for the glass it is served in. My recipe amounts change depending upon the glassware in the bar I consult to. The ratio amounts may change as well, depending upon what TYPE of bar it is. Some bars want classic cocktails, some nouveau, some just big honking, tasty, drinks.

                                                                                                                2. 1. A Martini is one of the cheapest and easiest drinks to make at home. Why in the world would you make a rule that you have to walk to a bar get such a simple drink? Besides, most bars never use orange bitters in a Martini, they're just as likely to ruin the thing by shaking it instead of stirring, they skimp on the vermouth, and even then, the vermouth is almost never properly stored, all of which result in a mediocre to downright bad Martini. At least at home you can measure properly, store your vermouth correctly, keep some orange bitters, always have your choice of gin, and be assured of fresh lemons for garnishing.

                                                                                                                  2. A Martini with no vermouth is not a Martini. It's cold gin. You're basically saying you like to get drunk on cold Hendricks with a slice of cucumber floating in there. Again, why would you make a rule that you have to walk to a bar in order to do that?

                                                                                                                  3. A Martini is all alcohol with some water dilution...by it's very nature it's a strong drink. If you're just looking for a cheap way to get drunk on clear liquor then shoot some vodka. As for me, I'll be enjoying my drink for something other than a quick means to getting a buzz.

                                                                                                                  4. Particularly with a Martini, balance is key in providing a smooth and refreshing drink. I would not trust anyone to free pour to the exact standards that requires, so you either use a jigger or I'm ordering a beer.

                                                                                                                  5. So your town boasts a lot of alcoholics...are you proud of that?

                                                                                                                  30 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                    PP has said numerous times on this thread why he goes out for the Martini. It makes sense, cut the dude some slack.
                                                                                                                    Going out and having a drink is more than just the drink, ya know.

                                                                                                                    1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                      It's also about more than seeing how quickly and cheaply one can get a buzz on.

                                                                                                                    2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                      Greetings To The Big Crunch:

                                                                                                                      I will try to respond to your points and answer your questions below:

                                                                                                                      1. Yes, It is my rule to walk to a bar whenever I want a Martini. My number one reason for this is that I live alone and do not like to drink alone. I simply do not enjoy it. Therefore, I do not have the motivation to buy the bar equipment needed to make my own Martinis at home.

                                                                                                                      Instead, I would rather walk to a local bar, where I can enjoy the companionship of my regular bar friends and occasionally talk to and make a few new friends and acquaintences.

                                                                                                                      Second of all, I always feel invigorated after walking back from one of my neighborhood bars, especially one that is located about 1.5 miles away from my home. It is my estimation that I burn off approximately 320 calories during the round trip, which I am guessing is roughly equivalent of at least one and a half of the two or three Martinis I usually drink there on a given evening.

                                                                                                                      Finally, I love the peace of mind that comes from knowing that, by walking to and from one of my favorite neighborhood bars, I will never have to worry about getting a DUI.

                                                                                                                      2. I never said that I like to "get drunk" on cold Hendricks Gin. Getting drunk usually gives me a headache and a general feeling of malaise all throughout the next day. This is something that has happened to me on the few occasions when I have had four or more Martinis.

                                                                                                                      This is why three is my limit. But I won't lie -- I do enjoy the buzz. I do know that I am legally over our state BAC limit of 0.08 after two Martinis, which is another reason why I choose to walk for my Martinis. For the same question you repeated again, please see #1 above.

                                                                                                                      3. I am not looking for a "cheap way to get drunk on clear liquor." If I did, I would order the cheapest gin in the entire bar. My father's favorite brand was Burnett's. If they carried that, I would order it.

                                                                                                                      I do not like to "shoot" any kind of liquor, and I don't usually drink vodka.

                                                                                                                      Nor am I looking for a "quick" buzz. I like to sip my Martinis slowly, and let my "buzz" gradually climb to a rising crescendo and climax. I usually take about 20 to 30 minutes to drink my first Martini as I waiting for and eating whatever appetizer I have ordered. I usually take twice as long to drink my second one, as I am slowly savoring each bite of my entree.

                                                                                                                      Sometimes I will order a third Martini, or a Manhattan, if I am in the mood for dessert. Sometimes the floor manager buys me one. On the average, the length of time I usually spend at the bar of one of my favorite restaurants is about an hour-and-a-half. By the way, I always eat at the bar.

                                                                                                                      4 -- In my particular neighborhood, with about 40 restaurants with full liquor licenses within a 2 mile radius, the free pour method rules. Many of our local bars only have one bartender on duty, who usually has a full load of 20 or more customers sitting at the bar, and who is also dealing with the drink orders from the other diners who are sitting down at their tables.

                                                                                                                      The free pour method takes a lot less time than the jigger measurement method. I don't have the heart to request that a bartender use the jigger method when he or she is being slammed with so many customers at the same time.

                                                                                                                      My one recent experience with a locar bar which did use the jigger method was unsatisfactory. Three of their Martinis hardly gave me a buzz. This bartender only used one jigger full of gin for each of my Martinis.

                                                                                                                      In contrast, the bar right across the street from this one uses the free pour method. There I usually have a nice buzz by the middle of my second Martini.

                                                                                                                      Why should I pay the same amout of money for three weak Martinis prepared with the jigger method, which barely give me a buzz, as for the Martinis prepared by the other bar and which give me a decent buzz before I finish my second one?

                                                                                                                      I do wish that our area was a little more sophisticated about Martinis. The typical bartender in my neighborhood is a young and pretty 20-something who probably doesn't even know what orange bitters are. One of them just turned 21 only a couple of months ago.

                                                                                                                      One of my favorite local bars is an exception. Orange bitters are always in stock, and they are usually used in their house Manhattan.

                                                                                                                      The next time I go there on a slow night, if the bar manager is present, I am going to ask her to make me a "classic" Martini, stirred instead of shaken, and with the orange bitters. I had planned to do this one night last week, but one of the young assistant bartenders was on duty, and she was slammed with customers.

                                                                                                                      Please rest assured that I am keeping an open mind about trying a classic Martini, stirred and not shaken, with orange bitters. I just have to find the right bar at the right moment. I might even have to venture over to one of the high end restaurants in downtown Norfolk in order to do so. This would mean taking a taxi to do so, but I would be willing to do exactly that, in order to satisfy my curiousity, and to hopefully raise my Martini appreciation to the next level.

                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                        I know this is sort've beating a dead thread, but...

                                                                                                                        I'm not really sure how to judge a drink by how buzzed I get. I judge drinks by how they taste, and to a large degree about how they showcase or recast the ingredients. The "jigger method" really only works if the bartender knows how to make a good martini. If they're pouring you 1.5 oz. of gin, no bitters, and no vermouth, then...yeah...I'll agree that in that case the "jigger method" fails. Furthermore, since it sounds like most of the bartenders in your area don't really know much about cocktails, they they are likely just guesstimating what a martini should be in the hopes it simply doesn't get sent back. And, to be fair, a high volume shots and beer place is almost certainly going to be free pouring due to the need for speed. I bartended in a dance club in the '90s where it was the same scene - granted, it was the '90s and very few places had seen a jigger in decades, but still...fruit flavored shooters and Bud Light bottles are not terribly exacting and the main thing people wanted was to be buzzed and not have to wait around very long for drinks.

                                                                                                                        The thing is, if I'm at a bar like that, I just don't order cocktails. In general, at most any bar, I don't order cocktails, and to some degree, making my own at home is the reason for this because it's been through making my own drinks using the right ratios, good recipes, and good ingredients that I've sort've stumbled into being a bit of as cocktail snob. I just don't trust most bartenders to be able to make good drinks, nor do I feel like I'm getting my money's worth when a three ingredient cocktail in DC can easily run $15. If I want a nice buzz, I can always pour a large glass of whiskey on ice, but in general, I enjoy cocktails for the timelessness of many of the classic recipes, and for the interesting ways they can use familiar ingredients to come up with new, and hopefully interesting and exciting flavors.

                                                                                                                        FWIW, my perfect Martini is:

                                                                                                                        2.5 oz. gin (preferably Boodles, Plymouth, or Brokers)
                                                                                                                        .75 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
                                                                                                                        2 dashes of orange bitters

                                                                                                                        Stir for about 40 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe, express a lemon peel over top, toss the peel and serve. It takes me a couple of minutes tops to put one together at home which, despite the drink's sophisticated image, actually makes it a supremely simple and easy drink to make. Also, my stir time is based on ice cubes from ice trays - smaller and less dense ice would require less stirring. One of those will likely not give you a buzz, but it will taste great and fully exemplify the sort of cool, sophisticated, pleasurable, and refreshing sensations a Martini should possess.

                                                                                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                          Greetings To The Big Crunch:

                                                                                                                          Many thanks for your latest commentary above, including your recipe for your "perfect Martini." I have jotted it down on an a piece of paper and stored it in my wallet. Hopefully, I will be able to present it to a local bartender soon and at an opportune time when he or she is not too busy.

                                                                                                                          Some of our local bars do stock Boodles, which is one of the gins you mentioned. Sometimes this brand is suggested to me if they have run out of Hendricks. When this happens, I usually ask for Bombay Sapphire.

                                                                                                                          The first brand of gin I ever tasted was Burnett's, which was my father's favorite brand. The first brand I started to buy on my own on a regular basis was Tanqueray, which I drank for many years. After that, I switched to Bombay Sapphire and drank that for many years.

                                                                                                                          It was only last year when I switched to Hendrick's. I find it smoother and more satisfying than either Bombay Sapphire or Hendrick;s. I can no longer tolerate Burnett's.

                                                                                                                          I will confess that I do tend to judge a Martini primarily on its ability to give me a buzz, with its taste being secondary. I don't expect a buzz after the first one, but I do expect one by the end of the second one. It is my sense that your "perfect Martini" would accomplish that nicely.

                                                                                                                          At that bar I complained about, where the bartender prepared each of my Martinis with the jigger method, he did only use one jigger full of gin and a small amount of vermouth. I am accustomed to a higher volume of gin in my Martinis than that.

                                                                                                                          By the way, this bar was also out of cucumbers when I ordered my Hendricks Gin martini at this bar. The bartender offered to make it with a small amout of St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur instead. I enjoyed the taste of it, but three of them simply did not give me the buzz that I usually get from two Martinis elsewhere, prepared with the free pour method.

                                                                                                                          The Ghent section of Norfolk has a unique overall demographic, consisting mostly of the young hipster crowd, students from Old Dominion University, and sailors. Beer is the most popular beverage, and the craft beer movement is very popular here. I am in the minority, both in my age and my preference for Martinis over beer and wine.

                                                                                                                          I've been doing a little bit of online reading on Martinis. I got a big kick out of the following article. I especially like their idea of only using a cap full of vermouth.

                                                                                                                          http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/05...

                                                                                                                          And also this one, which describes how Robert DeNiro likes his Martinis with those ice shards coming out on top as a result of extra shaking.

                                                                                                                          http://www.grubstreet.com/2013/09/slo...

                                                                                                                          After reading these articles, I realized that none of the bars in my neighborhood have Martinis glasses that are already chilled. Instead, they are usually stacked on their glass shelves or hanging upside down from one of those glass racks. This confirms for me that there really is no true Martini bar in my Ghent Norfolk neighborhood.
                                                                                                                          However, there is a Martini bar opening soon in Virginia Beach.

                                                                                                                          I may ultimately have to go to downtown Norfolk or to that Martini bar in Virginia Beach in order to get your "perfect Martini" or a close approximation to it.

                                                                                                                          Thanks again for your commentary.

                                                                                                                          PP

                                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                            Don't expect to get a real Martini at any place that calls or considers themselves a "martini bar." That's a sure sign of '90's style cocktails, the 2nd worst decade for cocktails in history. (The 80's was the worst.)

                                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                              JMF,

                                                                                                                              Thanks for the warning.

                                                                                                                              I can remember "Chocolate Martinis" becoming very popular in my area back in the 1990s.

                                                                                                                              That is one thing that I would never order. The very thought of it makes me nauseous.

                                                                                                                              PP

                                                                                                                          2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                            The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                            The following is a link to the cocktail menu of one of my top two favorite bars and restaurants in my neighborhood:

                                                                                                                            http://bardoeats.com/pdf/BardoDrinkMe...

                                                                                                                            You will notice that they do stock orange bitters, as shown by its presence in their "Bardohattan."

                                                                                                                            This is the bar in my neighborhood that I deem most likely to be capable of being able to prepare your "perfect Martini", if only I can get there at the right time, when their bar manager is on duty and when they are not being slammed with customers.

                                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                              That menu is fascinating in a perverted and disturbing way. Reading it is like watching a major cataclysm in slow motion. Sort of like those videos of the tsunami in Japan, people being washed away, homes destroyed, lives lost.

                                                                                                                              The great majority of their cocktails sound terrible, and use horrible ingredients and mediocre spirits, with no actual thought on balanced cocktails. Just a bunch of stuff thrown together.

                                                                                                                              It's like they are in the end of the 20th Century, trying to make it into the 21st, but caught in a twisted and inverted time paradox.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                JMF,

                                                                                                                                Wow.

                                                                                                                                And to think that this is the only bar in my entire neighborhood in the Ghent section of Norfolk that emphasizes spirits over beer and wine.

                                                                                                                                The only cocktail I have tried from this menu is their Bardohattan, which I often pair with dessert when the mood strikes.

                                                                                                                                Just curious. How would you improve upon their Bardohattan?

                                                                                                                                In regard to their Vinoraga, which contains Bombay Sapphire East, I was the one who first suggested that they start stocking this particular brand of gin a year ago. However, I will admit that I don't like the sound of the red wine syrup that is included in this particular drink.

                                                                                                                                When it comes to specialty cocktails in my neighborhood, this is really the best we have to offer.

                                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                  I think the Vinoraga could work. In theory, I'd leave out the simple syrup and make a wine syrup out of something really fruity like a Beaujolais. Maybe sub in soda water over the tonic and garnish with fresh berries and it might be a nice warm weather riff on a Tom Collins.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                    Without knowing the actual recipes it is very difficult to comment on improving the drinks.

                                                                                                                                    Like the Big Crunch said, not ginger puree, or syrup. Domaine de Canton liqueur, or a few drops of fresh ginger juice.

                                                                                                                                    But I probably wouldn't use ginger with Dolin vermouth since even a small amount would overpower it. Maybe if it was Rittenhouse rye and Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth. Also depends on how good their homemade orange bitters are. Looking at the cocktail menu... I honestly don't have much hope for them.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                    I admit that I'm not a fan of fusion cooking as it is not easy to pull it off. The drink menu and the food menu both sound like fusion for the sake of marketing fusion. I would guess that there are some good things on both menus but the campy overload would keep me away from here.
                                                                                                                                    It is rated highly on Trip Advisor. One review states "Best tapis in town".

                                                                                                                                    1. re: collardman

                                                                                                                                      Hello collardman,

                                                                                                                                      Whenever I go there, I always start off with their Yaki-Soba Noodles under their Level I menu. I usually get some shrimp added to it for an extra $2 and pair this appetizer with my first Martini.

                                                                                                                                      For my entree, I usually get a fresh seafood special if they have one. If not, my "default" dish is their Wagyu Beef Carpaccio from their Level II menu, paired with their Wasabi Mashed Potatoes from their Level III menu. It is here is where I enjoy my second Martini.

                                                                                                                                      If I order a dessert from their Level IV menu, I usually get their Creme Brulee Duet, the flavors of which can change from day to day. When I get this, I always pair it with a Bardohattan.

                                                                                                                                      For those who are curious, here is their food menu:

                                                                                                                                      http://bardoeats.com/pdf/Bardo_menu_S...

                                                                                                                                      With respect to the food only, this is my second most favorite restaurant in the Ghent Norfolk area.

                                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                                  3. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                    Forgive me. Please don't take this the wrong way, but when I am confronted with a cocktail menu such as this, I usually order beer.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                      I will say this about the cocktail list - they sure are cheap! As awful as most of those drinks look, that same list wouldn't have a drink priced less than $10 in DC. A few are somewhat promising. Ginger might work well in a Manhattan, though I don't think I'd use ginger puree; perhaps ginger-infused orange bitters, or a rinse of Domaine de Canton? The Sacca Sour also might be promising - basically a rye fizz with quinquina. The Ashrama could be saved by getting rid of the sriracha and spicy pepper rim, using a better tequila, and adding a dash of orange bitters, maybe something more sweet and fruit forward like Fee Brothers. That said, the amount of drinks specifically citing Bacardi is disturbing, as are many other aspects.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                        Greetings To The Big Crunch:

                                                                                                                                        Do you live and work in the DC area?

                                                                                                                                        If so, then you know that you are not too far away from Norfolk.

                                                                                                                                        How much would you charge the owner of this restaurant to hire you as their bar consultant and completely revamp their cocktail operation? This would include coming to Norfolk and retraining their bartenders as well.

                                                                                                                                        The owner also owns three other restaurants in the area with one more opening in a few weeks. It wouldn't surprise me if he met your price.

                                                                                                                                        Then again, most people in this area probably wouldn't notice the difference with the changes you made. Most of us are simply not accustomed to fine cocktails prepared with the level of quality you describe.

                                                                                                                                        PP

                                                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                          I'd charge no less than $100,000....with another $100,000 as a retainer :)

                                                                                                                                          I haven't been to Norfolk in over a decade and all I really recall about the place is that there were a lot of very big ships. Funny thing about it is that I have no idea why I was going through there. Maybe it was on the way to Virginia Beach?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                            that's a question you should be asking me. Have barkit, will travel...

                                                                                                                                        2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                          Hello zin1953,

                                                                                                                                          That wouldn't work for me, as I no longer like beer.

                                                                                                                                          Bartenders are constantly asking me to taste this craft beer, that craft beer, etc., and I do so to oblige them, But none of them taste good to me. They all leave a bad taste in my mouth.

                                                                                                                                          PP

                                                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                            >>> That wouldn't work for me, as I no longer like beer. <<<

                                                                                                                                            Yes, well, I prefer wine to beer, but that cocktail list doesn't make me feel confident about their BTG selection, either. Perhaps just some Rye or Bourbon with a couple of ice cubes or -- in summer months -- a Gin & Tonic. (I guarantee their G&T won't hold a candle to the gintonica I have in Spain, but it's also not very easy to screw up your basic American G&T. Possible, true, but not easy.)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                              Except for the bars that use fountain tonic water. It's still drinkable, but inferior to decent tonic. Even schweppes if it's from a recently opened bottle is way better than the fountain stuff.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                  And then there are folks like me who just find all tonic water to be terribly unpleasant ;)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                    I do not like tonic either, so I am with you on that

                                                                                                                                                    I also thought looking at the menu the Vinoraga could be redeemable, the rest of the menu should be thrown away

                                                                                                                                                    Beer is the way to go with that cocktail menu, not sure why they have sake at the bottom of the menu and even then most of the sake is american sake?

                                                                                                                                            2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                              I have been following this thread mostly due to the Ghent references. I miss the place. (are the public clay tennis courts still there?)
                                                                                                                                              I find that old school Barkeeps that know the Pre-90s bar menu can usually be trusted to make a 2 or 3 ingredient cocktail by free pour. Younger ones, not so much. Todays cocktails often require several steps and layers of ingredients that call for carefull measurement. I don't care as long as drink is balanced.

                                                                                                                                              My martini however must include at least 1/4 vermouth. Gin on its own is pretty foul.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: budnball

                                                                                                                                                Hello budnball,

                                                                                                                                                I can't think of or picture any public clay tennis courts located actually within the bounaries of what is now designated as the Ghent area. However, I believe the ones located across Old Dominion University are still there.

                                                                                                                                                If you are familiar with the Ghent area, then you probably remember Colley Avenue. I live right off Colley Avenue. Walking along Colley Avenue in the evening can be a beautiful and festive experience, highlighted by the sight of beautiful historic old buildings and the street musicians who are playing outside.

                                                                                                                                                It is here where most of our neighborhood restaurants and bars are located, with most of the others located on or about 21st Street.

                                                                                                                                                Ghent does not seem to have any "old school Barkeeps." At least, I can't think of one. Most of our local bartenders are under 30 years of age. One of them just turned 21 a couple of months ago and is majoring in fashion merchandising from Old Dominion University.

                                                                                                                                                If I have to live in Norfolk, I wouldn't live anywhere else. It is probably the only section of Norfolk where I feel safe walking at night.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                  My memory of Ghent is from 1980-82. I lived in a tiny apt behind a high school and would walk to the Naro which did double bills of "art films" old films and foreign films. I saw To Catch a Thief there the night of Grace Kelly's death which was too weird since it had been scheduled at least 2 months before. I was in Navy then and not much of a drinker, so I don't remember the bar scene. Ghent was a charmer even then.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: budnball

                                                                                                                                                    Hello budnball,

                                                                                                                                                    It sounds like you lived in an apartment behind Maury High School, which is off Colonial Avenue.

                                                                                                                                                    You will be interested to learn that the Naro is still there and going strong, showing lots of independent films. Most of the street musicians in Ghent play right in front of the Naro.

                                                                                                                                                    I'm trying to think of the names of some of the restaurants that were in Ghent from 1980 to 1982.

                                                                                                                                                    There was Cogan's on Colonial Avenue, which is still there. On Colley Avenue, which is also where the Naro is located, I believe there was Elliott's and also the Intermission, whose spaces now house entirely different restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                    Dan's Hideway is another one that comes to mind. Maybe Kelly's Tavern. Maybe the Do Nut Dinette.

                                                                                                                                                    Further down Colley Avenue, the Red Mule Inn was a popular spot for listening to folk music around that time.

                                                                                                                                                    Either the Potpourri or Master's was located at the intersection of Colley Avenue and Princess Anne Road.

                                                                                                                                                    Maybe Charlie's Cafe, located on Granby Street behind Maury High School. It's still there.

                                                                                                                                                    Do any of those names ring a bell?

                                                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                                          2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                            Choosing from the cocktails on that menu, I'd definitely order a beer.

                                                                                                                                    2. I like free pour. Or the bartender who fills the jigger and lets it overflow into the glass. Something to show me the company is not just a bunch of tight asses.

                                                                                                                                      18 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: genoO

                                                                                                                                        Hello geneO,

                                                                                                                                        Right on!

                                                                                                                                        That's exactly how I feel.

                                                                                                                                        I also enjoy the watching the artistry of a bartender free pouring a number of drinks in rapid succession.

                                                                                                                                        Watching a bartender use the jigger method with so much exactitude makes me feel like I am in a chemistry lab.

                                                                                                                                        On the other hand, I am willing to give some of these precisely measured cocktails a try.

                                                                                                                                        PP

                                                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                          >>> I also enjoy the watching the artistry of a bartender free pouring a number of drinks in rapid succession. Watching a bartender use the jigger method with so much exactitude makes me feel like I am in a chemistry lab. <<<

                                                                                                                                          PP, I *do* understand where you're coming from. I understand the concept of *watching* the artistry, but -- and here's where you lose me -- I would rather TASTE the artistry.

                                                                                                                                          EXAMPLE:

                                                                                                                                          Three bars. Three bartenders. Same cocktail. Two measure, one "free pours." All THREE cocktails will taste different from one another.

                                                                                                                                          Measuring doesn't make individuality disappear. Indeed, it lets creativity shine as each bartender puts their own spin on that recipe -- whether it's the choice of spirit (e.g.: No. 209 Gin for that Martini versus Beefeater¹; Rittenhouse Bonded Rye versus Old Overholt in that Vieux Carré), in that choice of bitters (Fee Brothers versus Scrappy's; Peychaud's versus Angostoura; etc., etc.), garnish (mint leaf or basil; lemon zest, orange or perhaps tangerine?), etc., etc., etc.

                                                                                                                                          >>> On the other hand, I am willing to give some of these precisely measured cocktails a try. <<<

                                                                                                                                          I seriously, honestly, genuinely applaud your open-mind. You may not be able to try the sort of cocktail that JMF (and I) are talking about without going to DC, or perhaps Richmond, but I *do* urge you to try them. There is far more to the world than merely 11:1 Martinis . . . .

                                                                                                                                          _______________
                                                                                                                                          ¹ I am not speaking of call drinks versus well, but rather when a "craft" bar has a specific cocktail menu, why is it that the chief bartender opts to choose *this* gin for that cocktail, rather than any of the other dozens and dozens of gins available?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                            Hello zin1953,

                                                                                                                                            Many thanks for your comments above. I have no arguments to put forth against them.

                                                                                                                                            It appears that I happen to live in an area in which the type and quality of the complex cocktails that you and others have spoken of are not available.

                                                                                                                                            If that cocktail menu I posted is as bad as you all say it is, which is still the best one I have seen in this area, then I am probably better off drinking those stiff Martinis as long as I am living here.

                                                                                                                                            I didn't realize that there was so much artistry and complexity to the actual taste of various cocktails.

                                                                                                                                            Trust me when I say that if you or JMF ran a bar in my neighborhood, I would become one of your regulars.

                                                                                                                                            By the way, I went to a bar a few nights ago where the bartender fixed me a Hendricks Gin Martini with a 12-count pour. I saw it with my very own eyes and counted.

                                                                                                                                            This one was TOO strong. This must have been one of those bars where I gave a very generous tip before.

                                                                                                                                            I don't think I can handle too many more of these in my advancing old age. This is all the more reason to seek out and gravitate to the type of cocktails you have mentioned.

                                                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                              PP- here's a video of one of my favorite Boston bartenders making a craft cocktail. This is the type of thing that we are taking about. Interesting ingredients that go together, put together with care (and measured!).

                                                                                                                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHG8m2...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: kimfair1

                                                                                                                                                That looks fantastic! I will be making that tonight, though I'll be subbing in Espolon for the the Dulce Vida tequila.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                  We went to that restaurant the other night, and I had that drink. Wow, it was phenomenal! Dinner was great too, though too expensive to be on our regular rotation.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                            I don't find much artistry in free pouring a bunch of drinks in rapid succession. That was the sort of thing I did when I bartended in a high volume dance club with a low premium on the taste of what was being poured and a high premium on getting drunk off of it. It's an assembly line mentality, trying to get booze to people as fast as possible so they don't have to wait...because the longer they wait, the more impatient they become, and the more impatient they become, the higher the likelihood of receiving little to no tip money.

                                                                                                                                            If someone is using a jigger for exact pours, then they are often trying to dial in a specific flavor in a drink, which is far more artistic than slopping booze in a glass as fast as possible so that you can get a minute or two when you're out of the weeds and able to catch your breath.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                              The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                              I hear and understand what you are saying.

                                                                                                                                              It just so happens that the vast majority of the bars in my neighborhood are high volume operations, where the free pour rules, and with the type of atmosphere and climate you have described above.

                                                                                                                                              The Martinis I recently had at that one and only bar in my neighborhood, where the jigger method was used, were the weakest (with respect to alcohol content) I have had in years.

                                                                                                                                              This is what soured me on the jigger method, at least in the manner it was used at this particular bar. Why go there when I can get that 12-count pour Martini at another bar only a five minute walk away, and at the same price?

                                                                                                                                              I really do wish there was a bar in my neighborhood which specialized in the type of complex cocktails that you and others have described.

                                                                                                                                              PP

                                                                                                                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                QUESTION:

                                                                                                                                                On the one hand, you wrote:
                                                                                                                                                >>> I went to a bar a few nights ago where the bartender fixed me a Hendricks Gin Martini with a 12-count pour. I saw it with my very own eyes and counted. This one was TOO strong. <<<

                                                                                                                                                In your next post, you wrote:
                                                                                                                                                >>> Why go there when I can get that 12-count pour Martini at another bar only a five minute walk away, and at the same price? <<<

                                                                                                                                                Well, either the "12-count pour" was too strong (and, as such, *not* a good Martini), or the "12-count pour" was a *great* deal and you'll never go anywhere else. Which is it?

                                                                                                                                                Even with a "simple" cocktail -- Scotch & Soda, or your 2-ingredient Martini -- is all about balance. Too much whisky and not enough soda, and the drink is so strong as to be harsh and "unpalatable" (as in, why not drink the whisky neat?); too much soda and not enough whisky, and it's way too watery, like drinking fizzy water. Too much vermouth in your Martini, and you would hate it! Too much gin in your Martini and it was way "TOO strong" (in your own words).

                                                                                                                                                In other words, as Goldilocks suggested, balance in all things.

                                                                                                                                                Now, imagine a more complex drink -- even if it's just three or four ingredients, and relatively simple as multi-ingredient drinks are concerns (think Sazerac, for example). Without balance, the flavors, textures, aromas or the drink are "off."

                                                                                                                                                So, sure, if you are walking to the bar to get buzzed, that 12-count Martini is the best deal in town! But if you're walking to the bar because you want a great cocktail, that ain't it.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                  Hello zin1953,

                                                                                                                                                  To answer your question, I guess I consider the 12-count Martini to be the lesser of two evils.

                                                                                                                                                  It wasn't too strong to me taste wise, but it did prove to be too strong with respect to how I felt the next morning after drinking two of them and then a Manhattan afterwards.

                                                                                                                                                  Next time I am going to exercise some restraint and skip the Manhattan.

                                                                                                                                                  You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                  >>So, sure, if you are walking to the bar to get buzzed, that 12-count Martini is the best deal in town! But if you're walking to the bar because you want a great cocktail, that ain't it.<<

                                                                                                                                                  I agree. I also agree with what you have said about the importance of "balance."

                                                                                                                                                  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there are any really great cocktails being prepared in any of my neighborhood bars, at least not by the standards that you and others go by.

                                                                                                                                                  But I will keep looking.

                                                                                                                                                  In the meantime, if given a choice between a Martini prepared with one jigger of gin, and a 12-count Martini as I described, both for the same price, the 12-count Martini wins hands down.

                                                                                                                                                  PP

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                    You never did respond to what amount that "one jigger of gin" was. Historically the measurement "jigger" was 1.5 oz. But the tool called a jigger can be 0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.5, or 2 oz.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                      Hello JMF,

                                                                                                                                                      To be honest, I don't know. I didn't ask. Whatever it was, it was not very much. If I had to guess, I would say 1.5 ounces.

                                                                                                                                                      I will ask the next time I go. I want to go at least one more time, so that I can write a Yelp review.

                                                                                                                                                      Right now they have three stars (out of five) going in, with all things considered, including the food.

                                                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                        As an addendum:

                                                                                                                                                        I am not accustomed to watching local bartenders use jiggers to measure their drinks.

                                                                                                                                                        Consequently, I have never learned to identify the measurement sizes of the different jiggers by sight.

                                                                                                                                                        That's why I don't know for sure how large a jigger was used to prepare my Martinis at this one particular bar.

                                                                                                                                                        PP

                                                                                                                                          3. re: genoO

                                                                                                                                            Geno, I am not trying to change your opinion -- after all, everyone is entitled to have one -- but do you mind if I ask a question? What is your "go to" cocktail (if you have one)? What cocktail do you most often make/request?

                                                                                                                                            The reason I'm asking has to do with what this entire thread is about.

                                                                                                                                            I have no problem with a "free pour" if it's free; the bartender can buy me a drink anytime he/she want to! (Oh, wait. Different "free pour." Reboot.)

                                                                                                                                            I have no problem with a "free pour" if we're talking (e.g.) "Scotch & Soda," "Gin & Tonic," or even a (true) Martini. But the more complicated the cocktail (as opposed to, say, "drink"), the more the artistry demands measured pours. Just as with wine, balance is everything.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                              If you're going 2:1 in the Martini then I can see a free pour being accurate a decent amount of the time, but for more unusual (and IMO, better) ratios, I don't trust it. Free pouring .75 ounces is not something most bartenders can do.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                With a good pour spout, like the Spill-Stop 285-50, a free pour with a three count is .75 oz. A WELL trained and constantly practicing bartender can do this easily.

                                                                                                                                                But how many bartenders have only these pour spouts, the most accurate, and practice their pouring skills and get tested?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                  In an odd irony, I'm related by marriage to Fritz Katsky, the inventor of the Spill Stop, which I fondly pronounce with a German accent as "Schpill Schtop".

                                                                                                                                          4. Well, how about that!

                                                                                                                                            I have just received an invitation to attend a "Handcrafted Cocktail Dinner" at our local Ruth's Chris Steak House.

                                                                                                                                            http://www.ruthschris.com/promotions/...

                                                                                                                                            However, I am not a fan of Ruth's Chris, and none of the cocktails described inspire me.

                                                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                              The only thing I can say about that menu is, how is it a handcrafted cocktail dinner when it is being given at dozens of their places across the country.

                                                                                                                                              Otherwise, about the website background. Nice copper bar tools from CocktailKingdom.com. I have the same ones. Actually I have their full copper lineup.

                                                                                                                                            2. Greetings!

                                                                                                                                              Last night I went back to the restaurant I have mentioned before, the one whose bar is the only one in my entire neighborhood that uses the jigger method for measuring and making their martinis.

                                                                                                                                              I watched my bartender make my martinis very carefully. She used one jigger of gin, the size of which was larger than the one on its opposite end. I did know its exact size and I did not ask. All I know is that it was not very big. My guess would be one and a half ounces.

                                                                                                                                              She also stirred it instead of shaking it. I counted the length of time she stirred it, which was about 40 seconds.

                                                                                                                                              I have learned that there is a new bar manager here, one whose philosophy is firmly entrenched in the use of jiggers when measuring cocktails, as opposed to the free pour method, and the process of stirring instead of shaking when mixing Martinis. It was only a few short months ago when this same bar was free pouring their cocktails and shaking their Martinis.

                                                                                                                                              Another change I have noted is that the size of their martini glasses has drastically shrunk. Apparently, the new bar manager ordered a new set of Martini glasses, which are much smaller than the ones they used before. In fact, these are the smallest Martini glasses I have ever seen in use in any of the bars in my neighborhood.

                                                                                                                                              The actual taste of my stirred Martinis was fine. I was able to appreciate the immediate visual clarity of my Martinis upon their arrival, instead of having to wait about five minutes for the cloudiness of a shaken Martini to clear up.

                                                                                                                                              But was it worth it? Nope. Not in my book. The two Martinis I ordered were just too weak with respect to their alcohol content. After finishing them, I barely had a buzz.

                                                                                                                                              Why should I go to this particular bar, whose Martinis probably contain only one and a half ounces of gin, when I can go to another bar across the street, and get a Martini with enough gin to last for a 12-second pour count, and get more buzz for my buck?

                                                                                                                                              I might add that the two stirred Martinis I had last night were not very cold. The shaken Martinis I have enjoyed in my neighborhood have been much colder.

                                                                                                                                              Upon further reflection, it isn't the use of the jigger method and the stiring of my Martinis that I am complaining about. It is the substantialy reduced amount of alcohol that is now being used in the cocktails served at this one particular bar. If they were to simply double the amount of gin in my Martinis, with two jiggers instead of one, I think I would feel okay with their Martinis.

                                                                                                                                              At least two other people have already complained about their weak and undersized cocktails in their Yelp reviews. And I was not one of them.

                                                                                                                                              Why is this bar doing this to itself? The word is already out about their weak and undersized cocktails. In such a concentrated and competitive market, with about 40 bars within a two mile radius of my home, and where the spirits flow freely from the free pour method, I don't see how they can stay in business very long if they keep this up.

                                                                                                                                              It's a shame that the only bar in my neighborhood that is using jiggers to measure their alcohol, and stirring their Martinis instead of shaking them, is preparing cocktails and Martinis whose alcohol content is not competitive with those of all of the other bars in my neighborhood.

                                                                                                                                              If the use of jiggers and stirring are truly superior methods, then they certainly deserve a much better showing that that which is currently on display at the one and only bar in my neighborhood that is using them.

                                                                                                                                              PP

                                                                                                                                              24 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                At this point it's beating a dead horse, but you just have to understand, many, many, many people don't judge a cocktail by how drunk it makes them...and yes, I'm going with that term instead of the more polite "buzzed". Most of us are far more interested in the taste, balance, originality, or, proper execution of a classic drink. Believe it or not, but many cocktails drinkers (perhaps most of us) enjoy the drinks for the flavors, and often we actually don't want to get a buzz from the things since we have to do things like drive home, get up early for work the next day, or just not spend the evening heavily buzzed and drunk. Sounds like she gave you a 2.5 oz pour of gin, which is just fine in my book. You may be surprised to learn this, but one of the more popular trends in cocktails right now are what are known as "shims" meaning low alcohol, yet sophisticated cocktails, often making ample use of vermouths, amari, fresh juices, bitters, and sherry (and other fortified wines) over hard liquor. Again, I just don't understand why, if your main interest is getting buzzed for as little as possible, you just don't order five shots of well vodka over ice with some cranberry juice, or five shots of orange or raspberry flavored vodka over ice with some Sprite, or something like that. In any case, if you're main issue in judging whether a drink is any good is whether it gets you drunk for as little as possible, then I really can't say we have anything in common in terms of how we judge drinks, so I can't recommend anything else to you, other than Long Island Iced Teas. Sorry it didn't get you buzzed enough for you to be happy, but again, if your whole issue with drinking cocktails is how buzzed you get, then maybe you should consider why you're drinking in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                  Agreed. On ALL counts.

                                                                                                                                                  I find the whole thing rather "sad," in a certain way, in that I suspect this is far more a societal problem than individual one. One hears, every year, about some "frat party" where someone dies of alcohol poisoning, or someone gets seriously injured after doing 7-8 shots -- and didn't think that was excessive amount . . .

                                                                                                                                                  The object of the exercise is *not* to get "buzzed." If it were, then I would (once again) suggest the OP stay home. (At least he's not driving!)

                                                                                                                                                  /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                                                                                                                                                  From http://sf.eater.com/archives/2014/06/...

                                                                                                                                                  For The European . . . bar director Adam Wilson gave Eater a sneak peek of the style of drinks he hopes to bring to the forefront: European drinks (surprise!) created during the early 20th century, Champagne drinks, and approachable cocktails that appeal to the lighter side of the palate.

                                                                                                                                                  "In San Francisco, so often a 1.5-oz pour will turn into 6 ounces [for a cocktail]," he says. "So I wanted to slow people down—Champagne cocktails that are complex, stylish, and lower-proof all at the same time." The impressively large 22-cocktail menu is divided into three sections: aperitifs, Champagne cocktails, and featured cocktails. Featured cocktails are broken down further into long drinks (lighter drinks served in a Collins glass), crushed drinks (served over crushed ice), up drinks (served with no ice in a cocktail glass), and "down" drinks (served on the rocks). Apart from the menu, the bar is also happy to serve heavier cocktails, according to the customer's whimsy.

                                                                                                                                                  "My whole motto is, 'I don't care what you drink, as long as you drink and enjoy yourself,'" said Wilson. "I'm not here to fill you with alcohol. I'm here to help you have a good time."

                                                                                                                                                  /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                                                                                                                                                  On the one hand, I have been quite pleased with the OP's willingness to listen to the comments and suggestions offered. On the other, I am disappointed that the OP seems to have listened, but not understood.

                                                                                                                                                  It is NOT all about the "buzz," nor is it -- God forbid! -- all about how buzzed you can get on the fewest number of drinks, which (bottom line) does appear to be what the OP's concerns are anchored in.

                                                                                                                                                  Sigh . . . I'm finished here.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                    The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                                    I don't think the Martinis I was served at this bar last night contained 2.5 ounces of gin.

                                                                                                                                                    Where did you get the idea that they contained 2.5 ounces of gin each?

                                                                                                                                                    As I described in my post above, each of my Martinis last night were prepared with only one jigger of gin.

                                                                                                                                                    That jigger sure didn't look very large.

                                                                                                                                                    It is my guess that it was a 1.5 ounce jigger.

                                                                                                                                                    Is there such a thing as a 2.5 ounce jigger?

                                                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                      The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                                      I don't drink to see "how buzzed" I get, as you have inferred. If I did, then three Martinis would not be my absolute limit. I would just keep on going until I am unable to stand up.

                                                                                                                                                      But when I do drink, I don't mind confessing that I seek to get "just the right buzz", which I describe as a warm and euporic glow. Is that really a bad thing?

                                                                                                                                                      As far as driving home, I never drink and drive. Period. I live in a neighborhood where I can walk to any one of 40 bars within a two mile radius of my home.

                                                                                                                                                      If I want to eat at a restaurant with a bar that is located outside this limit, then I get a ride. But I never drive.

                                                                                                                                                      I only eat out and drink twice a week, which is one evening during the work week and usually on Saturday evening. During the other five nights of the week, I eat at home and drink either bottled water or a container of organic cold-pressed fruit or vegetable juice.

                                                                                                                                                      If all I want out of a drink is "flavor", then I would just prefer to stay home and enjoy one of the cold-pressed juices.

                                                                                                                                                      By the way, I am also beginning to drink for "flavor" as well. Please read my post describing the cocktail I recently had that was served in a mason jar. It was delicious and full of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                      In fact, I am looking forward to having one again in a few days, which will be in place of the second Martini I used to get.

                                                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                        No, getting a nice alcohol buzz isn't a bad thing at all. I'll be at a bachelor party all weekend and don't expect to be sober for a couple of days. I've played in bands off and on for years and when I hit the stage, it's nice to have a mild buzz to take the nerves off and relax. Most band practices start with at least a couple of beers to "warm up'. However, in none of those cases would I order (or make) a classic cocktail and then judge the drink solely by its ability to get me buzzed, which I think is sort've the issue in this whole thread. I do think it's great to know that you're starting to see cocktails as a diverse and fun thing to explore for the flavors rather than how buzzed they can get you in a single serving. I wouldn't say cocktails are at the top of life's pleasures, but they're definitely a fun world of flavors and pleasures to explore.

                                                                                                                                                        If I want a drink with flavor, I'll skip fruit juices and have a dram of good booze or a nice cocktail :)

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                      It is only in the late 80's and 90's that huge cocktail glasses came into vogue. Historically cocktail glasses were much smaller. Originally 2-3 oz. Although by the 50's they had gotten to around 4-6 oz. Most of the cocktail glasses used today in fine cocktail bars are 6-8 oz. The bar manager at the place you mention is incorporating a quality bar menu and tradition, not the 90's, over the top, consumer aimed bigger is better attitude.

                                                                                                                                                      You really shouldn't use the term "weak", that you keep throwing around. The cocktails you had were not "weak" they just were smaller in volume and so had less alcohol. It seems you like a very large martini made with 4-5 oz. of gin, rather than the historical 1.5-2 oz. of gin.

                                                                                                                                                      Whether the bar will make it won't be because of the size of the cocktails, but the quality, if there is the correct demographic of educated or willing to be so, that want quality cocktails.

                                                                                                                                                      Why didn't you ask the bartender how much gin and vermouth they use in their recipe? I do that quite often. As for you guessing the size of the jigger, it may well have been 2 oz. A person who is not familiar with jiggers could easily mistake a 1 oz. / 2 oz/ jigger for a 1.5 oz. / .75 oz. jigger. Most bars making quality cocktails don't use 1.5 oz. measures of gin in a martini.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                        Also worth noting is that these "weak" cocktails the OP bemoans may only be weak to him. Remember, restaurants and bars serve hundreds of people a night, thousands per week. Many (MOST) guests are looking for a good time and at best a minor buzz by THE END OF THE NIGHT. For example, my GF is under 5'5" and somewhat petite. If she drinks a 2.5 oz. martini in under twenty minutes she is buzzed. If you gave her a 5 oz. Martini and she finished it in under a half hour (at which point it has long become an unpleasant warm glass of gin) she would be well on her way to passing out early. Forget ordering dinner or staying for another drink, she would be calling a cab to take her home. My guess is that most bar patrons fall much closer to her end of the spectrum than the OP's, or for that matter, my tolerance. Why don't bars make drinks that get folks with high alcohol tolerances buzzed off of one serving? Because they'd have most of the rest of their clientele passed out or wasted within an hour of entering the establishment. This is bad for a number of reasons, not only in terms of possible legal ramifications and guest behavior, but in terms of being able to make more money by continuing to sell them drinks throughout the night, rather than losing a guest who needs to go home and puke or pass out after two drinks. Sure, there is a place for bars like that, but those kinds of places have no need whatsoever to worry about making a good cocktail - it wouldn't be something their target clientele cares about and it would be a waste of their staff's time to learn and prep the drinks, as well as the bar's resources to purchase the higher end and various alcohols needed to achieve that level of cocktail preparation.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                          The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                                          You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                          >>Also worth noting is that these "weak" cocktails the OP bemoans may only be weak to him.<<

                                                                                                                                                          Nope.

                                                                                                                                                          If you read my other post in full, you would have read that at least two other people have written and posted negative Yelp reviews on this particular bar, in which their weak and undersized cocktails were specifically mentioned.

                                                                                                                                                          I did not write one of these reviews.

                                                                                                                                                          Therefore, I am not the only one complaining.

                                                                                                                                                          PP

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                            The number of people who write on Yelp is but a small subset of the guests that go to any bar or restaurant even on a single night, and people are far more likely to complain than to spend time writing to say they had their expectations met, which is one reason you see a lot of one star and five star reviews on Yelp but very few three stars. Again, if you did in fact receive a 2.5 oz. pour in your drink then that is not weak and would, most likely, produce a mild alcohol buzz in most guests. Remember, you are talking about the equivalent of two and a half glasses of wine in a cocktail glass.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                              The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                                              I get what you are saying above.

                                                                                                                                                              But where did you get the idea that I was served a Martini with 2.5 ounces of gin when I clearly watched it being made with only 1 jigger full of gin?

                                                                                                                                                              PP

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                My bad. I thought you said she used both sides of a jigger, which in general (though not always) translates to 2.5 ounces. Clearly that bartender has no idea how to make a martini, which, I might add, has long been bemoaned in another Chowhound thread.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                                  The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                                                  Sure enough, she only used one side of that jigger.

                                                                                                                                                                  This was also the case when I went there about two or three weeks ago.

                                                                                                                                                                  PP

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                          JMF,

                                                                                                                                                          You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                          >>You really shouldn't use the term "weak", that you keep throwing around. The cocktails you had were not "weak" they just were smaller in volume and so had less alcohol. It seems you like a very large martini made with 4-5 oz. of gin, rather than the historical 1.5-2 oz. of gin.<<

                                                                                                                                                          Sorry. Apparently, I have developed the habit of equating the strength of a drink with its alcohol content. Therefore, I tend to describe a Martini with 1.5 ounces of gin as "weak" in comparison to one with 3 ounces of gin.

                                                                                                                                                          You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                          >>Why didn't you ask the bartender how much gin and vermouth they use in their recipe?<<

                                                                                                                                                          I admit that I should have.

                                                                                                                                                          The reason why I didn't do so last night, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit to this, is that this bartender was georgous, and I was a little intimidated by her beauty.

                                                                                                                                                          I didn't want to come across as questioning how she made my Martinis. In addition, she is only 21 years old, and I did not want to make her nervous as well.

                                                                                                                                                          By the way, the new bar manager is a male. If I go back when he is tending the bar, I will definitely ask him.

                                                                                                                                                          You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                          >>As for you guessing the size of the jigger, it may well have been 2 oz. A person who is not familiar with jiggers could easily mistake a 1 oz. / 2 oz/ jigger for a 1.5 oz. / .75 oz. jigger. Most bars making quality cocktails don't use 1.5 oz. measures of gin in a martini.<<

                                                                                                                                                          Are you saying that a Martini made with only 1.5 ounces of gin most likely falls short of the standard for a quality cocktail?

                                                                                                                                                          PP

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                            That is what JMF is saying (if I can answer for him). Most martinis are made with a minimum of 2 oz of gin.

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                          Well, props for trying. But I think you'll just need to own that you're a quantity over quality kind of guy. There's nothing wrong with that, but it seems to me that you've discovered that you're much happier with just a gargantuan martini or three over a consistently well-balanced drink that is small enough to actually stay cold while you drink it. Nothing wrong with knowing what you like. Cheers!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                            Hello cacio e pepe,

                                                                                                                                                            Quantity over quality? Well, not always.

                                                                                                                                                            I still like that gargantuan Martini for my first drink of the evening.

                                                                                                                                                            However.......

                                                                                                                                                            It is my inner sense that I am also moving a bit further toward an appreciation of finely crafted cocktails, as long as they don't wimp out on the alcohol content.

                                                                                                                                                            For example, here is the recipe of a cocktail I have enjoyed very much on at least two occasions from my favorite bartender in my neighborhood:
                                                                                                                                                            __________

                                                                                                                                                            -¾ ounce Raw Summer Thistle Honey (from Golden Angels Apiary in Linnville)

                                                                                                                                                            -1 ounce Virginia Gentleman Virginia Bourbon

                                                                                                                                                            -2 ounces Spirits of the Blue Ridge Vodka

                                                                                                                                                            -Splashes of fresh lemon

                                                                                                                                                            -Lemon twist and cinnamon stick, for garnish

                                                                                                                                                            This cocktail is built in the glass. First, pour honey and bourbon into a rocks glass. With a bar spoon, stir for 15 seconds, then add ice to about 1 inch from the top of the glass.

                                                                                                                                                            Add vodka and 3 drops of fresh lemon juice.

                                                                                                                                                            Submerge cinnamon stick to bottom of glass and use it to stir for another 15 seconds.

                                                                                                                                                            Twist a lemon peel over top of the drink and drop in twist.

                                                                                                                                                            Stir cinnamon stick another 5 seconds and serve.
                                                                                                                                                            __________

                                                                                                                                                            This cocktail has given me a great taste and a satisfactory buzz as well with its 3 ounces of alcohol. Note that it is prepared and served in a shots glass, which I would hardly describe as "gargantuan." I haven't ordered one lately, as I prefer bourbon drinks in colder weather.

                                                                                                                                                            On the other hand, those Martinis I had the other night, which only consisted of one single jigger of gin (which I am guessing was a 1 1/2 ounce serving), and served in the tiniest Martini glasses I ever saw, just didn't cut it. They didn't stay cold very long either.

                                                                                                                                                            And this is the only bar in my entire neighborhood that prepares their Martinis with jigger measurements.

                                                                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                              I am going to be very honest and I hope it doesn't offend. (I don't believe I just wrote that.) Virgina Gentleman is mediocre bourbon. Adding vodka to that is just compounding the crime. What the heck are "splashes of lemon"? Later you say, "3 drops of fresh lemon juice" that is meaningless in the way of flavor.

                                                                                                                                                              Why a cinnamon stick? It has no bearing on the cocktail. Which by the way, is a bourbon/vodka old fashioned. Nothing more, nothin less. Well less in why would you not use all bourbon, and a good one, not VG?

                                                                                                                                                              But I was impressed in a nerdy way, but not as a consumer, in "Raw Summer Thistle Honey (from Golden Angels Apiary in Linnville)"

                                                                                                                                                              How can 3 oz. of booze fit in a "shots" glass?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                The recipe for this cocktail was copied and pasted from an article in our local newspaper. I also noted the disprepency between the use of "splashes of lemon juice" and the "3 drops of lemon juice."

                                                                                                                                                                This was the cocktail I mentioned earlier that made it to a list of five finalists in a local regional cocktail contest.

                                                                                                                                                                One stipulation for this contest is that all of the ingredients had to be Virginia ingredients.
                                                                                                                                                                Hence, the Virginia Gentleman Bourbon.

                                                                                                                                                                If you say it is an inferior bourbon, then I respect your opinions enough to believe that it actually is an inferior one.

                                                                                                                                                                The cinnamon stick did add a lot of flavor to this cocktail. I sipped it slowly and stirred the cinnamon stick at various moments, which seemed to enhance its flavor over time.

                                                                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                  Virginia Gentleman isn't completely made in Virgina. Only finished there. I is distilled in Kentucky.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                  JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                  You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                  >>How can 3 oz. of booze fit in a "shots" glass?<<

                                                                                                                                                                  Oops!

                                                                                                                                                                  The recipe I quoted from the article said:

                                                                                                                                                                  >>First, pour honey and bourbon into a rocks glass."

                                                                                                                                                                  I later referred to it as a "shots" glass.

                                                                                                                                                                  This was my error.

                                                                                                                                                                  It was a rocks glass instead of a shots glass.

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for calling my attention to my error.

                                                                                                                                                                  PP

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                  Quantity vs. quality is a continuum. All that you have described in your drinking preferences seems to confirm to me that you're tastes lie further towards the quantity end of the spectrum than most of us commenting. I think that's the disconnect between your posts and many others.

                                                                                                                                                                  Everyone has a mutable position on the continuum. I'm just not going to pay $15 for a 1 oz. martini no matter how well crafted. I'm also not happy at all to pay $10 for a mixing tin full to the brim with poor ingredients that are treated with disrespect even if it will get me sloshed/buzzed/tipsy/wasted. It's all personal preference. You place a lot of value on total alcohol content.

                                                                                                                                                                  You've asked a lot of people to weigh in on this forum and we're all pretty serious about what we drink. JMF, in particular, I know to be a heavyweight in the field. We've all come down on the side of measured pours, precision, and smaller cocktail sizes so the drink can be enjoyed the same way every time at the proper pace and proper temperature.

                                                                                                                                                                  You have a taste for larger cocktails that aren't as precise. No problem.

                                                                                                                                                                  As to that recipe listed, I think that's further evidence to your point that your area is not a home for lots of sophisticated bar programs. The provenance of the ingredients aside, putting bourbon and vodka together in a drink is an insult to both spirits. 3 drops of lemon juice? Why insist on it being fresh, it won't be tasted in such a small concentration. I propose that you like the cinnamon stick because it and the honey are the only things with any flavor in high enough concentration to taste. I don't find that cocktail recipe a good representation of the craft.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                    Greetings cacio e pepe!

                                                                                                                                                                    Many thanks for an interesting post.

                                                                                                                                                                    Let me respond to a couple of your points.

                                                                                                                                                                    You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                    >>Quantity vs. quality is a continuum. All that you have described in your drinking preferences seems to confirm to me that you're tastes lie further towards the quantity end of the spectrum than most of us commenting. I think that's the disconnect between your posts and many others.<<

                                                                                                                                                                    I concede your point above. I do tend to value quantity a little more than quality at this time.

                                                                                                                                                                    However, it is my sense that I am beginning to move a little more toward the direction of quality.

                                                                                                                                                                    But where do I find it in my area?

                                                                                                                                                                    You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                    >>As to that recipe listed, I think that's further evidence to your point that your area is not a home for lots of sophisticated bar programs. The provenance of the ingredients aside, putting bourbon and vodka together in a drink is an insult to both spirits. 3 drops of lemon juice? Why insist on it being fresh, it won't be tasted in such a small concentration. I propose that you like the cinnamon stick because it and the honey are the only things with any flavor in high enough concentration to taste. I don't find that cocktail recipe a good representation of the craft.<<

                                                                                                                                                                    I agree that my area is not a home for sophisticated and high quality cocktail programs. This is something I regret very deeply. Instead, craft beer programs rule in my area.

                                                                                                                                                                    The bartender who came up with the cocktail above is, in my opinion, the best in my immediate area. This includes all of the bartenders who work in the approximately 40 bars within a 2 mile radius of my home.

                                                                                                                                                                    This bartender is also the one who came up with that mason jar cocktail I described elsewhere. I have already made up my mind that I am going to order another one tomorrow night instead of that second or third Martini.

                                                                                                                                                                    So you see, given the limitations of our local cocktail scene, I am trying to stick to the best of what we have available.

                                                                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                    (Sigh)

                                                                                                                                                                    >>> Quantity over quality? Well, not always.

                                                                                                                                                                    I still like that gargantuan Martini for my first drink of the evening. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, well, that certainly sounds like "quantity over quality" to me.

                                                                                                                                                                    /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                                                                                                                                                                    PP, I know I said I bowed out of this thread, but I have yet to abandon all hope, so please permit me to ask a question or two, and make another observation (or two or three).

                                                                                                                                                                    Question: you have two Martinis (since we seem to be focused, regrettably, on that particular cocktail) -- one is produced from two ounces of London Dry Gin and one-quarter ounce of Dry Vermouth; the other from four ounces of the same brand of London Dry Gin and one-half ounce of the same Dry Vermouth. (I know, you don't like the taste of vermouth -- why, again, do you order a Martini instead of straight gin?) They both are prepared the same way (right now, let's forget about the shaken vs. stirred method), and both are priced the same. Which is stronger?

                                                                                                                                                                    Honest. It's not a trick question. I know which is the better VALUE, as one is twice the volume of the other and priced the same -- and with the same ingredients (i.e.: one is not make from the cheapest gin available, while the other is some rarefied bottling of gin that 's only made when the moon is full by blind monks on a remote island in the middle of the South Atlantic). But which is stronger?

                                                                                                                                                                    The problem with phrases like "a 12-second pour" is that it doesn't mean anything. I can hold a bottle upside-down for 12 seconds and empty the entire 750ml contents into the sink. I can also hold a bottle upside-down for 12 seconds and get less than one ounce out of it. (And I'm not talking about pouring something thick and viscous, like honey, versus water; both liquids have identical viscosities.)

                                                                                                                                                                    So -- depending -- a "12-second pour" may result in a greater volume of liquid . . . or not.

                                                                                                                                                                    /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                                                                                                                                                                    >>> The idea of a cocktail served in a mason jar also made me cringe at first......Until I tasted this one. <<<

                                                                                                                                                                    Would it taste any different out of a "regular" glass? (Again, not a trick question, but rather a serious one.)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                      Greetings zin1953:

                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you very much for your most recent post above and your questions. I will try to answer them to the best of my limited knowledge and ability.

                                                                                                                                                                      First, in regard to the following exchange:

                                                                                                                                                                      I wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                      >>Quantity over quality? Well, not always.<<

                                                                                                                                                                      And then I wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                      >>I still like that gargantuan Martini for my first drink of the evening.<<

                                                                                                                                                                      Then you wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                      >>Yes, well, that certainly sounds like "quantity over quality" to me.<<

                                                                                                                                                                      Again, I wrote "Well, not always." I also wrote that my liking for a "gargantuan Martini" applies for my first drink of the evening.

                                                                                                                                                                      In other words: I do concede that I value quantity for my first martini. After the first one, quantity becomes of lesser importance to me.

                                                                                                                                                                      As evidence, I am now trying to experiment with some of the craft cocktails available in my neighborhood instead of the second or third martini I used to order in the past.

                                                                                                                                                                      For your first question, you asked me why I order a martini instead of "straight gin?"

                                                                                                                                                                      Well, when I go into one of my favorite bars now, the bartender usually asks me "Your usual?" I just nod my head. Sometimes they start making my martini the instant I walk through the door.

                                                                                                                                                                      Now then. If I walk into an unfamiliar bar with a bartender I have never seen before, I usually say: "I would like to have my usual drink, which is a Hendricks Gin Martini, up and dry, and with a cucumber slice if you have one."

                                                                                                                                                                      I just can't bring myself to say: "I would like a glass of cold gin." That just sounds too hardcore for me, even though I concede that it probably is the same thing as my martini I am ordering.

                                                                                                                                                                      In regard to the two martinis you mentioned -- the one with 2 ounces of gin and 0.25 ounces of vermouth vs. the one with 4 ounces of gin and 0.5 ounces of vermouth: In accordance with the definition of "strength" used on this board, then these two martinis would be equal in "strength", due to the fact that their proportions are equal. In contrast, the popular definition of "strength" by the drinkers in my neighborhood would say that the martini with 4 ounces of gin is stronger, simply because it contains more gin.

                                                                                                                                                                      In regard to the martini I recently had with a 12-second pour count of gin, all I can say is that I honestly did count to 12 before she ended the pour. According to my notes, a one-second pour is usually equivalent to 0.25 ounces of liquor. Therfore, if I am right about the above, and if the bartender's pour was one of standard practice, then that would have resulted in a martini with approximately 3 ounces of gin.

                                                                                                                                                                      Finally, you asked me about the cocktail which was served to me in a mason jar. You wanted to know if it would have tasted differently if had been served in a different kind of glass.

                                                                                                                                                                      Good question. I honestly don't know. This particular cocktail, which is called a Spicy Cucumber Rita, is the only cocktail that they serve in a mason jar.

                                                                                                                                                                      Why did the bartender choose the mason jar for this one particular cocktail and not any of the others? I honestly don't know. If I get the chance, I will try to ask her about this.

                                                                                                                                                                      I went out to have another one of these cocktails last night. I will say this. There seemed to be something about the diameter of the mason jar at its lower end, combined with the ice cubes nestled inside the cocktail and pressing against the glass inside, that made the cocktail feel colder the longer I sipped at it. This is a big part of what made it taste so refreshing to me.

                                                                                                                                                                      It would be an interesting experiment to sample this cocktail in two separate glasses -- the mason jar vs. any other type of glass -- in order to note any differences in their tastes.

                                                                                                                                                                      In the meantime, it is my inclination to believe, as explained above, that the combination of the wide diameter of the mason jar at its lower end, in combination with the ice inside, somehow manages to make it colder to the touch and taste over a period of time.

                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks again for your questions!

                                                                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                                                              2. Greetings Again!

                                                                                                                                                                In another update, I am pleased to report that I enjoyed one of the specialty cocktails, instead of a second Martini, at one of my favorite bars last week.

                                                                                                                                                                I'm a little embarrassed to confess that I do not know all of its ingredients. What I can tell you that it was profoundly delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                As a result, I can now appreciate what many of you are talking about when you speak of the "flavor" of a cocktail. This one had it.

                                                                                                                                                                This cocktail was served in a mason jar with either tequila or gin or a mixture of both, ice cubes, cucumber slices, jalapeno pepper slices, and some sort of sweetener. It was very refreshing, especially on the hot and humid evening I had it last week.

                                                                                                                                                                I will be going back in a few days to have another one and will report back to describe exactly what was in it.

                                                                                                                                                                By the way, in addition to its great flavor, it gave me a decent buzz.

                                                                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                                                                36 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                  Sounds like a recipe style of around the late 90's early 2000's. I say this for three reasons. First, you couldn't tell what the main spirit was. There is quite a bit of difference between gin and tequila. Second, served in a mason jar. Third, cucumber AND jalapeno in the same cocktail? Both of which are part of the nouveau cocktail style, although it is rare to see both in one drink. (Although cucumber has a minor historical tradition as in the Pimm's Cup.)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                    JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                    The following is a recipe which includes both cucumbers and jalapenos in the same cocktail:

                                                                                                                                                                    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/jalapeno...

                                                                                                                                                                    At first, I could have sworn I either heard or read that the cocktail I described above contained gin.

                                                                                                                                                                    I searched the internet high and low for a cocktail recipe which contained gin, cucumbers, and jalapenos. I was not able to find one. Therefore, I did not find a precedent. But I did find the one above with tequila.

                                                                                                                                                                    As a result, I began to "second guess" myself as to what type of liquor I originally thought was actually in that cocktail.

                                                                                                                                                                    I will find out for sure and report back after my next visit in a few days from now.

                                                                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                      Gack, that is an awful sweet/sour cocktail, which also probably covers up the flavor of the tequila. Also just the idea of cocktails served in mason jars makes me cringe.

                                                                                                                                                                      Breaking it down to one serving
                                                                                                                                                                      2 oz tequila
                                                                                                                                                                      1 oz. triple sec
                                                                                                                                                                      2 oz. lime juice
                                                                                                                                                                      1 oz. simple syrup
                                                                                                                                                                      1 slice cucumber
                                                                                                                                                                      1/4 of a jalapeno
                                                                                                                                                                      I don't see how just letting the cucumber and jalapeno just float in the cocktail in the fridge would give much flavor. I would think you would have to muddle them slightly.

                                                                                                                                                                      But then again, it isn't a quality cocktail website...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                        Just my personal taste, but I don't care for jalapeno, or any other hot pepper flavor in my drinks. I don't want to feel like I'm drinking something that is making me thirsty, or reminding me of hot sauce. Cucumber on the other hand can be great! One of my favorite drinks is The Archangel (from PDT) which makes great use of cucumber in a wonderful, refreshing, and very simple manner.

                                                                                                                                                                        Archangel
                                                                                                                                                                        2.25 oz. Plymouth Gin
                                                                                                                                                                        0.75 oz. Aperol
                                                                                                                                                                        2 slices cucumber
                                                                                                                                                                        Lemon twist, as garnish

                                                                                                                                                                        Muddle the cucumber along with the Aperol together in the mixing glass, then add the gin and ice. Stir until well chilled and strain into a chilled coupe. Twist the lemon peel over the drink to release its oils and place as garnish.

                                                                                                                                                                        This is one of those drinks where Plymouth makes a noticeable difference over a London Dry, even one as good as Boodles.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                                          Personally I don't like hot spice of any type in cocktails. And as for cucumber, the first cocktail I had with cucumber was one of Audrey's recipes at Bemelmans, this was after long she left, must have been eight years ago, but made by a very elderly bartender who used 2 oz. of cucumber juice instead of 1/4 oz. This was right before a best friends wedding. I then proceeded to have the cucumber juice repeat on me for the next two hours. Since then I haven't liked cucumbers in cocktails.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                            I'm with you on the spiciness, except of course a bloody mary

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                                                              But a Bloody Mary isn't a cocktail, it's brunch. ;-)>

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, cucumbers can do that - my mom hasn't been able to eat them for years because of this. The Archangel may be worth trying though because the cucumber flavor is very mild. It's sort've a magical drink in that it is far more than the sum of its parts. To put it another way, it doesn't actually taste like Aperol, gin, or cucumber, but a delicious new flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                              I hate tomato juice, so Bloody Marys have always been something I dislike.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                                                I had the Archangel at PDT back when it was on their menu when they first opened. It just didn't grab me back then. I thought it was like a mild negroni. I think I might enjoy it more nowadays. If I get some Aperol I'll try it again. Or make it with Campari, but half the amount.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                  I can kind've see that, but it lacks any of the bitter bite of a Negroni, which is neither good nor bad IMO, just a different flavor profile they're going for, plus, without the vermouth, it has a lighter body. I made a few rounds of them for me and my GF a couple of weeks back before going out for dinner on a fairly humid summer night and it was the perfect light and refreshing drink for a warm summer night, which, thankfully, we haven't had too many of this summer in DC. Oh, and of all the people not to have a bottle of Aperol?!?! ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                                                    I actually only have around 100 bottles of modifiers right now. Most more esoteric than Aperol. Not the over 700 bottles of spirits and modifiers I had back when I was a full time booze/food writer.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I am living in a small apartment right now and actually don't have much room since I'm currently in a one bedroom apt after moving back to NY from Maine. I have three bedroom house worth of furniture, all the equipment of a small distillery, and my beverage lab with 250 botanicals, all also in 190 proof tincture form, and around 30+ as single botanical distillates, plus all my lab equipment like a centrifuge, chamber vacuum, filtration stuff, sous vide stuff, etc. It's one of the best equipped cocktail labs in the country. From having worked in the best cocktail labs in the world, once I finally get a roto-vap and liquid nitrogen dewars, I will have the best equipped cocktail lab in the world!

                                                                                                                                                                                    But, it's like living in a storage unit connected to a commercial laboratory...

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                      Maine? MY GF and I are going to be up there on vacation next week near Kennebunkport. Any advice on places to get some good drinks, decent liquor stores, or any worthwhile brewery tours? I'm planning on stopping at Smuttynose on the way up from Boston and a friend told me that the Gritty McDuff brewery is worth checking out. Shipyard is up there, but I've been unimpressed with everything I've had from them.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                                                        I really don't know southern Maine. Mainers call it "North Boston" because it isn't much like the "real Maine." In Portland there are some good places. A quick google can find them. And wherever John Meyers is working will have some of the best cocktails.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Up in Mid-Coast I had some good cocktails a few weeks ago in Rockland at 3 Crows, and they have another place in Camden.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Shipyard is boring. I used to be partners in a winery and opened a brewery in Maine... a bit farther north than that.

                                                                                                                                                                                        There is an absence of really good liquor stores. The liquor is state control. They have one distributor which has had a monopoly for decades, although I think they just had their contract cancelled, but you can only get stuff that the state allows. New Hampshire is the place to get booze. Loss leaders at the state liquor stores can be amazing buys for the educated consumer.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                                                  The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                                                                  We agree on something!

                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't like tomato juice or Bloody Marys either.

                                                                                                                                                                                  PP

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                                                The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                                                                I would be willing to try this cocktail.

                                                                                                                                                                                I noticed that the ratio of the Plymouth Gin to the Aperol is 3 to 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                Do you think that 3 ounces of the Plymouth Gin and 1 ounce of the Aperol would also work?

                                                                                                                                                                                Or would that be too much?

                                                                                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                  If getting drunk is you goal, then why not.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                    JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                                    As I have stated before, "getting drunk" is not my goal.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I do not enjoy "getting drunk." It causes me to get up the next morning feeling poorly. It ruins my day the next day, causing me to be generally unproductive. I don't enjoy that.

                                                                                                                                                                                    What I do enjoy is getting a nice warm glow and buzz, one which still allows me to get up the next morning feeling fine and still allowing me to be both functional and productive throughout the day.

                                                                                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                      make that getting mildly buzzed.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                    You could certainly try, but I tend to believe that when Jim Meehan settles on a recipe, it should be followed to the letter.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                                                      The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                                                                      I had never heard of Jim Meehan before, so I did a Google search to read up a little about him on the internet. Very impressive!

                                                                                                                                                                                      I will take your word for it about this recipe being followed to the letter.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Just curious. Do you know how much he charges for this drink?

                                                                                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                        No idea about the cost - I've never been to PDT, but I've probably made about a third of third drinks in the PDT Cocktail Book. My guess is that most of the drinks on their menu go for $12-$14. Cocktails are expensive in NYC, as well as DC, which is one reason I started gradually building a massive home bar a few years ago. It doesn't hurt that Montgomery County (right across the DC line) has some of the cheapest liquor prices in the country.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The other thing about the ratios that you have to remember is that the cucumber needs to be fit in if you're going to increase the volume of liquor. So, if you're going to up the alcohol by .25 oz. you'd probably need to consider what that means in terms of adding more cucumber. I thought the drink was perfect as printed (I used 1/2 inch tick slices BTW) and thus didn't feel the need to tinker with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                          At PDT cocktails are $14-16 usually. Jim is both a good guy and does good cocktails.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                            All the drinks I had at PDT 2 years ago were $15 each, and they were all spectacular, especially the Flower Power with whiskey, kumquats, and muddled green pepper. I had the bartender give me the recipe, and I've made them at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kimfair1

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'd wondered if it was considered polite to ask.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                I ask all the time. Some tell, some don't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good to know it's okay to ask. Thanks, buddy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've only asked twice, at PDT, and at The Hawthorne in Boston, but they know me quite well there. They will give anyone the recipe if asked, however. They even have them on computer, so that they can print out a small copy and not have to worry about writing it out. At PDT, the bartender told me the recipe and I wrote it down myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                Word is Jim Meehan is moving to PDX soon. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited (assuming he eventually opens a bar here). His will be a very nice addition to an already pretty good cocktail town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cobpdx

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes, it was announced last week.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, well, it took me far too long to realize this entire thread was *not* about taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                                                                          I have been really nice during this thread. I'm so proud of myself!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                          JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                                          The idea of a cocktail served in a mason jar also made me cringe at first......

                                                                                                                                                                                          Until I tasted this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                          You can't argue with flavor, and this one definitely had a great flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I am going to try to find out exactly what was in this cocktail tomorrow night.

                                                                                                                                                                                          PP

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't see the problem with serving a drink in mason jar. I've happily sipped on juleps in mason jars and they are nice for smashes as well. That said, you want to use the smaller mason jars - not the giant mason jars.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                            The idea of cocktails in mason jars doesn't make everyone cringe :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.theonion.com/articles/were...

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Ah, what a read!

                                                                                                                                                                                      First, I applaud you for exploring some version of the craft cocktail movement (such as it exists in your home town).

                                                                                                                                                                                      To distill this thread down a bit (heh heh), the common themes are:

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. You have been confusing strength and volume (I think you have gotten the message on this).

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. You value volume (to a degree) over an actual recipe. This may be due to the fact that you can get 6 drinks for the price of 3 (a bargain!) at some establishments, whereas at others you can only get 3 drinks for the price of 3. But then let's not lose sight of the fact that while you BELIEVE you are drinking only 2-3 martinis per night, in reality you are drinking 4-6 martinis (made in more of the classic methods/proportions/volumes). Just because they are calling it "a" martini does not change that fact. If I went to a bar and ordered "a glass of wine" and they filled a proper (reidel style) red wine glass to the rim, that would equate to much more than a half bottle of wine (in fact it would be almost an ENTIRE bottle of wine - this is not an exaggeration). If I then had "2 glasses" that would almost be 2 full bottles of wine for 1 person. Technically true that I had only "2 glasses", but in reality I would have consumed much, much more. It sounds as though the bar that is now measuring is trying to bring drink VOLUMES (not strengths) back toward a generally accepted norm (based on classic recipes and normal serving sizes). And hopefully their drinks will also be more consistent and balanced.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. I honor your reasons for not consuming alcohol at home, but if you DID make your own martinis at home, then I think you would understand the value in measuring because you know how you like your martinis and you would want it the same way every time. Measuring accomplishes that. Even if you discovered your perfect martini was 4 oz gin, 1/8 oz vermouth you would actually KNOW that and you could have it the way you like it EVERY time, instead of the Russian Roulette of martinis that you experience when you go out. This is why the rest of us like measuring and hate (I'll speak for myself) free-pouring. I want the drink to taste right (i.e. be well-balanced) every time I order it, not just sometimes. Even when we are talking about drinks with relatively few ingredients, like a classic martini or a manhattan.

                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Although you state that others feel the same way about the bar that has changed to measuring their cocktails, that is likely because they (like you), value #2 above and nothing else matters. This would in part explain why your city is so high on the list of drunkenness, or whatever the statistic was.

                                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cobpdx

                                                                                                                                                                                        Greetings cobpdx!

                                                                                                                                                                                        Many thanks for your very interesting and enlightening post. You have made some excellent points.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In regard to my apparent confusion between the meanings of strength and volume when it comes to cocktails, I believe most people in my area define the strength of a cocktail like I do.

                                                                                                                                                                                        When a person writes a Yelp review that says "My drinks were strong", that almost always translates into "There was a good dose of alcohol in my drinks." When a person writes "My drinks were weak", that almost translates into "There was not very much alcohol in my drinks."

                                                                                                                                                                                        A drink that contains 3.0 ounces of alcohol (gin, for example) is "stronger" than one which contains 1.5 ounces of the same type of alcohol, regardless of the size of its glass or container. This has been the mindset, however wrong it may be, of most of the drinkers in my area for as long as I can remember.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In the second point you raised, you wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                                        >>It sounds as though the bar that is now measuring is trying to bring drink VOLUMES (not strengths) back toward a generally accepted norm (based on classic recipes and normal serving sizes). And hopefully their drinks will also be more consistent and balanced.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                        This was in reference to that bar I have been complaining about, which happens to be the only bar in my neighborhood which uses the jigger method instead of the free pour method.

                                                                                                                                                                                        However, the "generally accepted norm" you mentioned does not coincide with the regional norm here in Norfolk, Virginia. The bottom line is that this bar is now preparing drinks whose alcohol content is of significantly lesser volume than those which were prepared only a couple of months ago with the free pour method.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In addition, they have reduced the size of their martini glasses, so much so that the martinis I received during my last two visits were the smallest I ever seen in my entire life. I wish I had taken a photo of one of their martini glasses to post here, so that you all can see for your very own eyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I might add that those martinis did not stay cold as long as those I have had prepared with the free pour method. Obviously, they are doing something wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                        So, why did I go back to this bar in the first place a few days ago when I was so dissatisfied with my previous visit? I promised one of the female bartenders, who is knock down gorgeous, that I would come back one more time in July. She is beautiful to look at, even before my first drink.

                                                                                                                                                                                        To return to my main point, the volume of alcohol in their drinks is currently not competitive with that of the "regional norm" of the other bars in my neighborhood. In fact, I would be willing to bet that the volume of the alcohol content served in their drinks is about two standard deviations below that of our regional mean.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The third point you expressed provides the best rationale for preparing your drinks at home that I have ever read. Bravo! But as I have mentioned before, I just don't enjoy drinking alone at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I truly wish there was at least one other bar in my neighborhood which prepares their drinks with the jigger method, so that I could compare them to those currently being prepared at the bar I have been complaining about. If JMF, for example, had a bar in my neighborhood, I would probably become a regular customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately, that is not the case in my Ghent neighborhood in Norfolk, Virginia. If there is only one thing I have learned from this thread, it is that our cocktail scene is very limited and in a very early stage of development, if it is truly developing at all. I have accepted this reality with much regret.

                                                                                                                                                                                        In regard to your last point, the city of Norfolk, Virginia, came in 2nd place among the "drunkest cities in America." Boston came in 1st.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks again for an interesting and enlightening post.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Cheers!

                                                                                                                                                                                        PP

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah Boston! Seriously, though Boston surely came in first due to the huge volumes of college students consuming huge amounts of very cheap beer at many of the college bars, and faux Irish pubs around town, we are lucky enough to have an active and thriving high end high quality craft cocktail scene here in the city with over a dozen quality bars and restaurants when one can consume excellently crafted cocktails. There's plenty of places like in your home too, like the steak house that's thankfully walking distance from my house that makes it's martinis and Manhattans in the huge glasses with a side glass on ice to hold the extra booze, but they are the exception to the norm these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kimfair1

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah Boston! I'm heading up to Boston from NY today to get some cocktails. I think that Boston is the #2 cocktail town in the US, maybe tied with NYC for quality. (SF, Chicago, and NOLA are right up there for quality as well.) Although the cocktails I am going to try are not on that list. I have to try to break the hidden recipe of a cocktail at a Harvard area restaurant for a client, so they can have a similar cocktail on their menu. I have heard it's not very good. (The things I do for my clients...)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: cobpdx

                                                                                                                                                                                            Here's one more point I want to express about the bar I have been complaining about.

                                                                                                                                                                                            They seem to be shifting to a "nightclub" format. On their Facebook page, for example, they frequently post messages such as "Come jam with us tonight!" and "Dancing tonight! Come dress to impress!" And so on.

                                                                                                                                                                                            It has been my experience, at least with a number of bars and restaurants in my area, that the quality of the food and drinks tend to go downhill when they go in this direction.

                                                                                                                                                                                            At my age, I could care less about "jamming" and "dressing to impress." They are also playing a lot of Latin "salsa" style music, of which I am not much of a fan. I would much rather sip a nice cold martini with some nice Frank Sinatra music playing in the background, such as "New York, New York!"

                                                                                                                                                                                            I might go back to this bar in a month or so, in order to see if there has been any progress made with the quality of their drinks, and to gaze my eyes upon that bartender if she is still working there. In my opinion, she deserves better.

                                                                                                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. A couple of things I gleaned from a chat with an accomplished, it seemed, bartender.

                                                                                                                                                                                            o If you order a "martini" when you actually want "cold gin up," you may be paying more because a "martini" is considered a cocktail and costs more than straight booze.

                                                                                                                                                                                            o Plenty of bartenders have been trained to "free pour" the exact amount that a jigger holds. So you're not necessarily getting more. The mind can play powerful tricks.

                                                                                                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                              Hello c oliver,

                                                                                                                                                                                              Many thanks for your message.

                                                                                                                                                                                              You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                                              >>If you order a "martini" when you actually want "cold gin up," you may be paying more because a "martini" is considered a cocktail and costs more than straight booze.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                              Good point. I never thought of that.

                                                                                                                                                                                              You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                                              >>Plenty of bartenders have been trained to "free pour" the exact amount that a jigger holds. So you're not necessarily getting more. The mind can play powerful tricks.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                              Another good point.

                                                                                                                                                                                              However, that martini I had at one particular bar in my neighborhood, measured with a 12-second pour count, with the bottle held at a perfect vertical position during the entire time and with its opening right at six o' clock, was mighty powerful.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Cheers!

                                                                                                                                                                                              PP

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                Has anyone here asked (don't want to reread) what your martini costs? Just curious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Greetings c oliver:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The most I have ever paid for a martini in my neighborhood, which includes not only my neighborhood in Ghent, but in downtown Norfolk as well, is $12.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I just checked over some of my most recent receipts. Those powerful 12-second pour count Hendricks Gin martinis at one of my two favorite neighborhood bars cost $9.50 each.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Hendricks Gin martinis served at the other bar I like, where the bartender came up with that mason jar cocktail I described earlier, cost $11.50 each. Sometimes their floor manager buys me a free one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Hendricks Gin martinis at the bar I have been complaining about, which is the bar which suddenly switched to the jigger method about a couple of months ago, cost $8.00 each.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The last time I actually paid $12 for a Hendricks Gin martini was about ten years ago. This was at a restaurant and bar in downtown Norfolk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Overall, the cost range for a Hendricks Gin martini has held pretty steady during the past ten years, between $8 and $12.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I call nonsense on a 12 second pour. Knowing how fast or slow spouts pour, that would be a 6-12 ounce pour depending upon the spout.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The most recommended and used pour spout, the Spill Stop 285-50 is a four count per oz.,/ 1 seconds for 1 oz.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                    JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That 12 second pour only occurred one evening and with one particular bartender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If a 12-second pour count appears to be an impossibility to you, then maybe there is a chance that I miscounted. I was counting in my head: one, two, three, four, etc., in my head the instant she began pouring. I could have sworn that I counted to 12 before she ended the pour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    On another evening at the same bar, with a different bartender, I counted a 10-second pour count. On another evening, it was an 8-second pour count. And on another evening, at a different bar, I counted a 6-second pour count.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I went out last night to be bar I usually go to on Saturday evening, I counted an 8-second pour count.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    It was only a few weeks ago when I even learned what a pour count was. I was at a particular bar one night and another customer asked the bartender: "What pour count do you use?" I had never heard that expression before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I made a point to come home that night and look up "pour count" on the internet. Since then, I have been counting the duration of the gin pours into my martinis, whenever the bartender is in visible sight so I can do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    So, I have only been doing this counting business for a few weeks. Maybe my counting is off a second or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    But wait a minute. I have just been looking through some of the notes I have been taking from this thread. I recently started a manila file folder titled "Chowhound on Cocktails and Martinis", so that I can refer to and study the notes I have taken. You see, I am trying to learn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    According to my notes, a one second pour usually equals one-fourth of an ounce of liquor. This would mean that the 12-second pour I counted that night would have resulted in 3 ounces of gin (12 X 1/4 = 3). Please correct me if any of this is wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If not, then isn't 3 ounces a plausible amount of gin that can be poured into a large conical shaped martini glass?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I wish you could have been there on that particular night to witness that pour. When I was counting in my head, I really did count to 12 before the pour ended. Again, maybe my counting was a bit off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am tempted to bring a stop watch next time in order to get an exact pour count. But I am not going to do that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I concede the possibility that I may have miscounted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    But please rest assured that I am not trying to con you or lie to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe download a stop watch app for your phone and see how long it actually is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pour spouts pour at varying speeds. The Spill Stop 285-50 is considered a medium speed spout.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                      To summarize:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ever since I began to "count pours" a few short weeks ago, the time length of the pours I have counted, however accurate they may be, have ranged from 6 seconds to 12 seconds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry, I wrote incorrectly when talking about the Spill Stop 285-50 above. A four count is apx. two seconds, and one oz. I just checked a dozen times with a stop watch and measuring cups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. THE MASON JAR COCKTAIL

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Greetings:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I recently described a cocktail I had that was served in a mason jar and said that I was unsure of the type of liquor that was in it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I went back to the bar that serves it last night. This time I wrote down the ingredients on a note card I had in my wallet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I know that you are not going to be impressed with the ingredients. But here goes:
                                                                                                                                                                                                    __________

                                                                                                                                                                                                    SPICY CUCUMBER RITA
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sauza Silver Tequila
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Triple Sec
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cucumber
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cilantro
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jalapeno
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lime
                                                                                                                                                                                                    _________

                                                                                                                                                                                                    There you have it. The proportions were not listed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    So fire away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here goes another cocktail I noted from their menu:
                                                                                                                                                                                                    __________

                                                                                                                                                                                                    THE ST. GERMAINE
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pinnacle Gin
                                                                                                                                                                                                    St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Prosecco
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cucumber
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fresh Lemon
                                                                                                                                                                                                    __________

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I had never heard of Pinnacle Gin or Prosecco before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also noted on their menu the use of Ransom Vermouth for one of their specialty martinis. I am not familiar with this brand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I welcome your thoughts on any of the above, however negative they may happen to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine. Usually off dry. (A little sweet.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ransom is a small batch vermouth made in Oregon. It's pricy. I've heard good things but haven't tried it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sauza silver tequila is pretty mediocre.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pinnacle gin is a basic, low end gin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If I saw Pinnacle gin or Sauza silver tequila on a cocktail menu, I would walk out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                        JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Many thanks for your comments and assessments of the liquors mentioned above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I must confess that I am a little disappointed that one of my two favorite restaurants stocks and serves these inferior brands of gin and tequila.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Their bar is primarily a wine bar, and this is where they place their priorities. In fact, this restaurant was given the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence last year. But this means nothing to me, as I am not much of a wine person.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I usually go there on Saturday evenings after a two-hour cardio workout at my local YMCA. They do great fresh "fresh catch" specials and are located only a 5-minute walk away from my home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I will probably stick to Hendrick's Gin during my future visits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Greetings!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Okay, please give me credit for making the attempt to try something new.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Last night I decided to take an extra dining excursion. There is a "gastropub" located only a 20-minute walk away from my home. I usually eat there once a month. I was in the mood for a hamburger and they do a great one. They also have a fairly large liquor selection for our area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My first Hendricks Gin Martini with a cucumber slice was prepared with only a count of 6 seconds. After finishing it, I decided to order a second one with something different. Specifically, I asked the bartender if she could add two drops of orange bitters to this martini. I timed a 5-second count for this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I liked the taste of the orange bitters, but I thought it clashed with the cucumber taste a bit. I also thought it was a bit overpowering. Those two drops of orange bitters also gave my martini a very noticeable orange tint. Is this the way it's supposed to be?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      After finishing this one, I then decided to try something even newer. I asked the bartender to list all of the brands of gin they carry. She rattled off the following names:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      "Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Beefeaters, Boodles, Half Moon......"

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I stopped her right there, as I recognized the "Half Moon" name from this thread. I asked her to show me the bottle. Sure enough, it was Tuthilltown Half Moon Gin. I remembered this brand of gin from the notes I have been taking for my manila file folder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      JMF, I believe this is one that you recommended.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I then went totally off the reservation and said to the bartender: "Could you fix me a martini with 2.5 ounces of Half Moon Gin, 0.5 ounces of vermouth, and two drops of orange bitters?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                      She said that she would do so and began to prepare it. She used jiggers to measure the 2.5 ounces of gin, but she free poured the 0.5 ounces of vermouth. I did not know the brand of vermouth she used.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      She began to add another cucumber slice to this one, but I stopped her just in time. I wanted to sample this martini without one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My impressions were somewhat mixed. On the positive side, the vermouth did not give me that vinegary taste I have complained about before. I did like the novelty of drinking a martini with a totally different taste and without a cucumber slice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the negative side, I thought the orange bitters were a bit overpowering once again. Once again, they gave my martini a very noticeable orange tint. After I left, I had that "orange taste" in my mouth for about two hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The bartender had her back turned to me when she was adding the orange bitters. I have been wondering if she added more than 2 drops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I would be willing to try one of these martinis again, but only under the hands of a different and more competent bartender. If I find a bar that stocks Plymouth Gin, which has also been highly recommended in this thread, I will also give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the meantime, I still like Hendrick's Gin martinis better. The one that I had timed to a 12-second count is mighty hard to beat, especially at a cost of $9.50.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I did not have much of a buzz when I left the restaurant last night, but I am not complaining this time. I have a lot to do today and did not want to be hung over. I was just in the mood to try something different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      By the way, the cost of each of the Hendrick's Gin martinis were $9.50. The one with the Tuthilltown Half Moon Gin was $10.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Comments welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll be honest, Hendrick's isn't that great a gin. The cucumber isn't that great a garnish. Orange bitters don't go great with the cucumber/rose of Hendrick's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Interesting that they charge more for the Half Moon martini. in NY Half Moon retails for around $36 a liter and Hendrick's $44 a liter (and way overpriced) at Astor Wines & Spirits.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        You can ruin a good martini by using mediocre vermouth. The vermouth is important. A mediocre vermouth that is fresh and kept refrigerated is better than a great vermouth that is old and kept on the bar

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Two drops of orange bitters wouldn't color a martini, must have been two dashes. What brand orange bitters? There are several brands, and they have different strengths and flavor ranges. My fav is Angostura Orange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I still think you are not counting correctly on the pours. Use a stop watch. It takes training to be able to count a pour correctly, and to count seconds correctly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                          This sounds so silly but I was taught that if counting, to go "one one thousand, two one thousand, etc."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hello c oliver,

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oops!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I can tell you right now that I have not been doing it that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Instead, I have been counting in my head, "one, two, three, four, etc., etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            No wonder that "12-second pour count" martini defied belief.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                              :) I only said that's how I was taught - and who knows why or by whom - but I think long ago I checked it against a timer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                            JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I do not know the brands of the vermouth and the orange bitters which were used in my martinis last night. I will make it a point to find out in the future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have also been noticing that just about all of the vermouth I see being poured into my martinis comes off the shelf instead of from inside a refrigerated area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            There is one bar in my neighborhood that says they use their own "house made" orange bitters. Whatever this means, I do not know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I suspect that you are correct about my miscounting of the poors I have been getting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                              JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have just thought of a few more comments and questions in regard to your post above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              >>Interesting that they charge more for the Half Moon martini. in NY Half Moon retails for around $36 a liter and Hendrick's $44 a liter (and way overpriced) at Astor Wines & Spirits.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think I have a theory as to why the Half Moon martini was more expensive than the Hendricks martini.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My Hendricks martini was prepared with what I counted to be a 6-second count by the bartender. If my counting was correct, and if a 1 second pour is equal to 0.25 ounces, then this would be equivalent to 1.5 ounces of gin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              When I ordered the Half Moon martini, I requested (off the top of my head), 2.5 ounces of gin and 0.5 ounces of vermouth. It is my guess that the Half Moon martini contained more gin than the Hendricks martini. Hence, its greater cost. Again, this is only a theory.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              >>You can ruin a good martini by using mediocre vermouth. The vermouth is important. A mediocre vermouth that is fresh and kept refrigerated is better than a great vermouth that is old and kept on the bar.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The vermouth I see being poured into my martinis appears to come from a different shelf than the gin. Is there such a thing as a "cold shelf?" Or should I see the bartender open and reach into a separate refrigerated section of the bar to get the vermouth? What exactly should I be looking for? Would it be too blatantly obnoxious if I ask to feel the bottle before ordering a martini with vermouth?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              One more question. According to my notes, two brands of vermouth I have seen highly recommended here and elsewhere are as follows: (1) Dolin (2) Noilly Pratt. Are there any particular brands of vermouth that you regard as so bad that they would cause you to walk out of the bar if they were all they had available?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              >>Two drops of orange bitters wouldn't color a martini, must have been two dashes.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                              What exactly is the difference between a "drop" and a "dash?" I am guessing that a drop is exactly what it is, a single drop, and that a dash is like a shake of the bottle which is significantly more than a single drop. Is my guess correct?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Any comments you would be willing to provide in response to the above would be appreciated.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks in advance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, a drop is a drop. A dash is a firm shake of the bottle. apx. 1/8 tsp. Or if using an eye dropper, you need to know apx. how much 1/8 tsp fills up the dropper. I always use 4 oz. bottles with eye droppers and 1/8 tsp is apx. 1/4 of a dropper full.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good cocktail bars pour smaller amounts of vermouth into small bottles which they keep out during service, either at room temp. or in an ice bath with syrups and juices. The larger bottle is then kept in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vermouth kept at room temp has about a two week shelf life once opened. Sometimes up to a month. If in a cocktail bar, ask them how they store their vermouth and how long ago the bottle was opened and how fast they go through bottles. If the bartender can't answer all those questions, then the vermouth isn't being treated well. Remember, vermouth is a wine, and needs to be treated as so. It is a little more robust from having the infused herbs, and being fortified with a neutral spirit to up the proof and have a few week shelf life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                As long as they are fresh most of the main vermouths on the market are fine. Noilly Prat dry and Cinzano sweet are the two best of the normal ones you see. Some of the slightly cheaper ones aren't as good. But I'll take one of those over a stale/heavily oxidized quality one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dolin, all three types are great. Boisserie are great. Carpano Antica Formula sweet and Carpano Punt e Mes are great. Some of the new ones that have come out are great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm sure this has been asked and answered before but how long should opened vermouth be held in the fridge? I'm sure mine has long since died :) Could part of a bottle be frozen or is that going to destroy/diminish hugely the taste?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here's a semi-scientific look from Kenin Liu on SeriousEats.com. He explores some interesting stuff, and while not always the most scientific, makes a great effort to seek out new info, test it, and publish about it. His book is pretty good as well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/07/be...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Personally, I have found that refrigerated, and re-bottled so there is little air, sweet vermouth can last six months, and dry 2-3, with a good taste. My vermouth fridge is kept at just above freezing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In bars I work with all vermouth is kept in the fridge once opened. A smaller, 8 oz. bottle is kept with syrups and fresh juices on ice to keep cool during service. Juices get thrown out at the end of the day. The vermouth goes back in the fridge overnight. The small containers of vermouth are finished and washed, before being re-filled. Never topped off, to keep the product as fresh as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I know it goes against repeated wisdom which frequently suggests tossing the bottles after a month, but I've found that vermouth can keep for many months when stored in a fridge and vacu-vined. FWIW, here's my notes on a six month old bottle of Dolin Dry stored in the fridge and always vacu-vined compared to a freshly opened bottle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Appearance is the same, completely clear, and a swirl produces the same results, basically no ring and a lot of tiny clinging droplets. The new vermouth has a crisp, sweet, floral and herbal nose with hints of light thyme, curry, a touch of allspice, some lavender, honeysuckle and muscat wine. Taste is light, crisp and very clean. The best description would be a somewhat light, white dessert wine, sweetened, more herbal, with a noticeably boozier kick to the flavor profile. Finish is short, clean, and mildly dry with lingering sweet honeysuckle, pear, fresh thyme, and general floral notes. Greats stuff that would be excellent served chilled over ice, or on the rocks with a bit of soda and twist of orange or lemon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The six month old has a noticeably weaker nose, with some slightly stale and musty odors and perhaps just a slight metallic note suggesting a hint of oxidation. That said, there is a strong underlying similarity in terms of the basic wine flavor and the overall herbal impression. Furthermore, there are no strongly “off” odors suggesting excessive oxidation screaming out from the glass, and it’s not an unpleasant aroma; really, it’s basically just weaker, less dynamic, slightly stale, and as such, a tad less good. The taste is somewhat similar - there are no off notes of vinegar suggesting excessive oxidation nor anything truly repulsive. The biggest difference is that there is no real depth of flavor, the sweetness is stronger and more generalized, and the whole thing feels a bit flabby. The finish is not as dry, the alcohol notes rougher, and the sweetness stronger and less complex and refined. All that said, it’s not bad, and IMO it could certainly be used in a cocktail without any serious damage. Would the fresher Dolin be a step up? Sure, certainly for some cocktails. I made a round of martinis (2.5 oz of Boodles to .75 oz vermouth) a few weeks back using the old Dolin and they were fine. I do think the more pronounced and unrefined sweetness made a slight difference, and I think the generally weaker body resulted in a more gin forward flavor than that recipe normally produces, but the difference was in a measure of degrees, and overall, they were still fine martinis that got very good reviews from my guest whose favorite drink, it’s worth noting, is a martini.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Many thanks for your replies to the questions I posed. This is good information and very helpful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The bartenders I see on a regular basis are really going to freak out if I start asking them these questions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. There may be hope for Norfolk yet!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                There is a new restaurant in downtown Norfolk that I just found out about and which only opened a couple of months ago. With only nine Yelp reviews so far, here is one excerpt:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                >>This place is awesome. They make unique and old fashioned drinks and have fantastic smoked whiskey where you can chose the wood chips to flavor your whiskey. I personally love the MacArthur which they make their own orange vodka for.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Another from a different reviewer:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                >>Now our waiter was very nice but the unseen star of the show was the bartender. The mixology of the drinks were perfect! Whoever they are I hope Gershwins keeps them because i have not had drinks so well balanced in a long time.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And another:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                >>The bartender, knows what she's doing. The drinks are as great as the music. Clad in a flapper-era outfit, this mixologist made terrific, interesting drinks for two. Mine was a smokey whisky, literally. She hickory-smoked the bourbon right in front of me. It was a dandy little show, matched only by the drink itself.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                One more:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                >>The bartender offered to serve me JW, either smoked or straight...what? I don't know? (the look on my face)... she explained to me the difference and recommended the smoked. I sat there as the chemist went to work. first she poured a shot, then she grabbed a piece of orange peel and blazed it with a torch! the oils from the orange peel fell into the glass at the sultry tune of the lady on stage...then, she place a strainer on top of the glass and added a few bit of oak chip on top, then blazed it with torch... the smoke permeated my personal space but for once in my life, a didn't mind! I welcome the smell of burned wood as it transported me to a warm camp fire in the woods, as I cuddle, next to the warm tasty body of someone special...the final product was awesome!!<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I find it most unusual that 4 out 9 different reviewers offered specific praises for their bartender and drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I am going to check it out soon and may even try one of those scotch or bourbon drinks described above instead of a martini.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I take anything said on Yelp with a pound of salt. It's the lowest denominator. Folks who make hateful or fancy reviews. You rarely see 3 stars, but lots of 1 and 5.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But it is good to hear drinks mentioned. But the silliness of the reviews is in direct proportion of the trendiness of the reviewers. (As opposed to the quality or trendiness of the bar/restaurant which can't be determined from afar.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    JMF,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I will admit and agree that most of the Yelp reviews I read are garbage. Some of them are downright embarrassing to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I do try to add some substance and detail to my reviews. Some of them are even more long-winded than my posts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In any event, I have only been writing Yelp reviews for about a year now. When I first started, I made the mistake of giving out too many 5-star reviews.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have written a total of 28 Yelp restaurant reviews during the past year. Here is my breakdown so far:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nine 5-star reviews
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Eight 4-star reviews
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Five 3-star reviews
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Five 2-star reviews
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One 1-star review

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Out of the nine 5-star reviews I have written, I now realize that three of them should have been 4-star reviews instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In my irrational exuberance, combined with my aim to please, I allowed my sentiments to overrule my objectivity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I now make it a point to eat at a restaurant at least three times, and try several different dishes, before giving a 5-star review.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I found the following article, with a video included, to be very enlightening and informative:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/ways-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This article describes several ways in which dishonest bartenders can rip off their customers with dishonest pours, which can give the optical illusion that you are getting more alcohol, when you are actually getting less.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is why I place some value on the "buzz factor" when evaluating my martinis. If I don't begin to feel a decent buzz by the middle of my second one, then I am probably being ripped off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It is also why I eat at the bar and watch my bartenders very closely when they prepare my martinis. This is how I recently caught a bartender squirting soda water into one of my martinis to give the illusion that I was getting a drink with greater alcoholic content.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The dishonest methods described in this article and video appear to point the way toward the jigger method is a more honest and consistently reliable method of measuring the amount of alcohol in one's drink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Unfortunately, the martinis served by the one and only bar in my neighborhood that does use the jigger method contain a low volume of alcohol, compared with most of the other bars in my neighborhood which use the free pour method.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Consider and compare the following:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BAR A: This bar uses the free pour method when preparing my martinis. When I finish my first martini at this bar, I usually have a pretty decent buzz. The cost of one of their martinis is $9.50. By virtue of the "buzz factor", I feel fairly certain that this bar is not ripping me off with one of the dishonest free pour methods described in the article and video above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BAR B: This is the only bar in my neighborhood that uses the jigger method when preparing my martinis. Three of their martinis gives me less of a buzz (and not even a satisfactory one) than only one martini from BAR A. The cost of one of their martinis is $8.00

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Although I see the merits of the jigger method, I find it unfortunate that the only bar in my neighborhood that uses it produces martinis that are unsatisfactory with respect to their alcohol content.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I will be visiting a new bar in downtown Norfolk in a few days, one which I have also heard uses the jigger method. It will be interesting to find out how their martinis, prepared with the jigger method, compare with those I have described from BAR B above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PP

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You spent a lot of text writing about $$$ and buzz. Not a word about taste. That says a lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The martini, especially the way you have grown accustomed to enjoying them, is a fairly mutable and forgiving recipe. A free pour from a highly competent bartender will get you something drinkable most of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You start getting into more sophisticated recipes that have more intriguing ingredients and small amounts matter too much to free pour your way to excellent results.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Seems like you value getting drunk on some level (buzzed, sluiced, sauced, etc). So do that! All of this back and forth is just an academic exercise. You like what you like. If you can get it cheaper one place than another, save yourself some cash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Many of us came to that conclusion weeks ago. ;^)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Greetings cacio e pepe:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        >>You spent a lot of text writing about $$$ and buzz. Not a word about taste. That says a lot.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Actually, I have mentioned taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe you missed it, but I posted a very recent admission that a "stirred" martini I had last week at a new bar in downtown Norfolk had a superior taste and texture to that which was exhibited by the last "shaken" martini I had. I consider this a giant step forward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This martini gave me a great taste, in addition to a decent buzz. I am going back to that bar this week. If their martinis give me the same great taste as those I had last week, in addition to a decent buzz once again, then I may very well have found the best of both worlds -- and my new favorite bar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The cost of one of the martinis at the bar I am mentioned above is $12. I do consider the superior taste of their martini to be worth the extra cost, above and beyond the $9.50 I was paying for the "shaken" martini whose taste is simply not as good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So let the record show that I have now mentioned "taste" and in a positive light.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        __________

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You wrote:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        >>You start getting into more sophisticated recipes that have more intriguing ingredients and small amounts matter too much to free pour your way to excellent results.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can agree with that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If I ever give up martinis, and take up more sophisticated cocktails instead, I probably will evolve to a preference for more precise measurements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And if I were to ever enter a cocktail contest, where the proportions of the ingredients is of critical importance, I will definitely use the jigger method of measurement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But as long as I am still in my martini phase, the free pour method treats me just fine the vast majority of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        PP