Articles Tagged: TheGinIsIn Original Cocktails


A Proper Martini?

The book has been written on the martini. Actually, several books. But today I found myself shocked by the number of drinks being called martinis in Slate’s recent martini brackets a la March Madness of martinis.

In an alternate world, this could stand for Martini March Madness.

Interestingly enough, I came to wonder at which point do I draw the line when deciding to call a drink a martini. Surely, the line is far away from the Applebees/TGIFriday model of serving adult koolaid in a martini glass spiked with vodka and calling it a “rocking-TINI” [or something similar]. But some of the drinks challenged me. Is a “perfect martini,” as in a Perfect Manhattan a Martini? Sure, I’ll buy that. But what about half a shot of St. Germain? What about dashes of Absinthe? Then what about a dash of Absinthe and Maraschino? 

I mean this is hotly contested ground we’re entering. I know, I’ve always stood by the idea that adding a couple dashes of orange bitters made a martini [and a good one]. I’ve always believe a dash or two of something aromatic and you’re still in martini country.

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MxMo LXXI: the Halja Cocktail

Firstly, you might be wondering about the theme and the name. The theme From Crass to Craft, put forth by Scott Diaz over at Shake, Strain and Sip challenges us thusly: “Create or find a drink that uses one or more ingredients that are not considered “craft” but are or can be used in a “craft” cocktail.”

Back to the name ‘Halja.’ Yes, it is the origin of the name “hell,” but let’s back up again.  Hel was a goddess in the Norse tradition and her name [as well as the word from which our ‘hell’ comes from, the Protogermanic word Halja] means “one who covers up or hides something.” 

This name seemed perfect for this. I’m hiding the fact that our main ingredient [a very specific kind of flavored vodka] is not really a craft ingredient by putting it in a drink where it not only shines- its most definitely the star- but its less desirable qualities are masked in beautiful fashion. Hence the name Halja, because frankly, I thought that it was going to require god-like capabilities to make the kind of drink I expect from top-end cocktail establishments with the kind of ingredient that rarely rises above the level of shots for college students who really haven’t acquired a taste for alcohol yet.

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