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James Thurber

Day 69, Cocktails 65, 66

“One martini is alright, two martinis are too many and three martinis are not enough.”  I have to say that James Thurber’s take on martinis is spot on!  Through the lens of history I remain jealous of the cohort that enjoyed the golden age of nightclubs, dining, entertainment and cocktails of the 50’s and 60’s, as Thurber did.

In our own little way Gwen and I try to relive the swank life when we are at home on Friday nights, such as last night.  After a swim in the pool and having fired up the grill we contemplated which movie to watch (Gwen’s job) and what martini style cocktail to enjoy (my job).  Normally the cocktail would be a straight up martini, but since I’m on this little adventure, the order of the day is something new.  Also, note that I wrote martini style cocktail.  To me, there is only one cockatil called a martini.  It does drive me to distraction when we go to a bar or lounge and are offered the opportunity to peruse the “martini” menu.  It’s not a martini menu, its a cocktail menu!  A martini is a cocktail!  It would be like going to an Italian restaurant and looking over the spaghetti section of the menu and seeing penne, ziti and linguine!

Whew, OK, I got that off my chest.  So, back to the cocktails for the night.  I pulled my copy of the “Martini Book” by Sally Ann Berk off the shelf down in the Twilight Lounge (I know, the book’s title is incorrect, but I’ve finished whining for now), and started browsing for a cocktail to make.  After a bit of searching I decided to try a modified version of what is called the Cold Comfort.

  Cold Comfort

  • 3 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz krupnik honey liqueur

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with 4-5 ice cubes and shake to chill.  Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a flamed lemon peel.

While not to Gwen’s liking I did enjoy this crisp, lemon – honey flavored drink built on a solid foundation of vodka.  At 3-1/2 oz of 80 proof liquor it definately qualifies as boozy, which makes it a good starter for a night in.

For round two I decided to strike out on my own after mixing up a virgin cocktail for #2 daughter that included orgeat syrup.  Orgeat is an almond flavored bar syrup, essential for any well stocked tiki bar (more on that topic in upcoming posts). 

  Blue Almond

  • 3 oz Chopin vodka
  • 1/4 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1/8 oz orgeat

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with 4-5 ice cubes and stir, stir, stir to chill and mix.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

This was much more agreeable to Gwen and I enjoyed it as well.  I was able to strike a nice balance of orange flavor from the curacao with sweet almond from the orgeat.  Of course, the blue color is always pretty in a chilled cocktail glass.

As for the movie, we got about 1/2 way through Slumdog Millionaire.  Not exactly cocktail swilling fare, but a very powerful film.  If you haven’t seen it yet and want to feel fortunate for what you have then by all means, watch it.


Exotic locales make for exotic drinks

Day 44, Cocktail 38

My business associate and friend Ashish was in Milwaukee last night ahead of our meeting today, so we got together for dinner and then cocktails.  The cocktails part will come in the next post, but while at Water Buffalo (a very nice 3rd Ward restaurant right on the river, I highly recommend it) Ashish ordered a shot of Maker’s Mark bourbon mixed with a shot of Amaretto while I sipped my usual martini (although I did get adventurous and had it made with Boodle’s Gin).  I asked him where on earth he had come up with that combination and he just grinned somewhat sheepishly and said he had ordered on a whim previously and that it was pretty good.  Having had a few Amaretto cocktails myself, I could see that this could be a winning combination and made a mental note to fool around with this pairing at the Twilight Lounge.

So, with everything else wrapped up for the night this evening I broke out the Maker’s Mark and Disaronno Amaretto.  I wanted to do more that just mix the two together as Ashish had.  I had an orange laying about and thought that it would add a nice backbeat.  I also knew that I’d want bitters in this and settled on Peychaud’s over Agnosturo since I was going to use some orange juice.  After a few tweaks I settled in on my recipe.

  Bollywood and Vine

  • 1-1/2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 1 oz Disarnno Amaretto
  • 1/8 of an orange wedge (1/4 of 1/2 of an orange)
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

In a mixing glass muddle the orange wedge to release the juice.  Add 3-4 cubes of ice and the remaining ingredients.  Stir vigorously to mix.  Strain into a rocks glass over 3-4 ice cubes.  Garnish with an orange wedge and cherry.

I added the extra bourbon from Ashish’s drink to tone down the Amaretto and give it more balance.  The citrus stays in the background while the Peychaud’s gives the drink a bit of earthiness. 

Ashish, thanks for the inspiration and I hope you like this!


Gin, check. Maraschino, check. Dry vermouth, check. Bitters, check.








Day 18, Cocktail 18

It’s hump day and it’s been cool, cloudy and generally cruddy here in Milwaukee for several days now.  So what better pick me up for the mid-week blahs than the grand daddy of them all, the one and only, the original martini, (drumroll please!), The Martinez!

The Martinez seems to have been around since the 1848 or so.  Various stories place it’s creation in the town of Martinez, outside of San Francisco, in Brooklyn by a bartender named Martinez and at nearly every point between.  What we do know is that the historical Martinez was made with Old Tom gin, Italian vermouth and a dash of maraschino liqueur.  Over the last several years I’ve come across numerous Martinez recipes.  Some purport to be as close to the original as possible while others are updates for the modern palate.  The Martinez that I mixed up for myself tonight is more along the lines of the historical recipe, although I still didn’t use nearly as much vermouth as some of the “classic” recipes call for.


  • 2 oz Plymouth gin
  • 1 oz Martini and Rossi dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes Agnosturo bitters


Combine the ingredients in a shaker and shake until your hands grow numb from the cold (OK, not really, how about for about 20 seconds).  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with olives.

Every other recipe I’ve seen for the Martinez calls for a lemon twist, but I just have to have olives in my martini, or in this case, my Martinez.  At first the flavor of the vermouth was the overwhelmingly dominant taste.  However, as I’ve been sipping my way through this classic the flavor if the maraschino is starting to assert itself on the back end of a sip.  Overall, this has been an interesting flavor experience.  I don’t think I could make a regular habit of the Martinez, but as a change from my usual martini it’s pretty good.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!