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The Vesper Cocktail

For those of you who enjoy the Vesper cocktail, which was made famous by the James Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953), do you have a favorite recipe?

Personally, I've never had one. But I am looking forward to trying one soon with the new bar equipment I have just ordered and received.

I have also just ordered and received Jim Meehan's book: "The PDT Cocktail Book." His recipe is as follows:

2.25 ounces of Plymouth Gin
0.75 ounces of Belvedere Vodka
0.5 ounces of Lillet Blanc
Stirred instead of shaken and garnished with a lemon twist.

Another recipe I found on the internet calls for 3 ounces of Gordon's gin (which I believe was Bond's brand), 1 ounce of Belvedere Vodka, and 0.5 ounces of Lillet Blanc. Garnished with a lemon twist.

Another recipe I found calls for 3 ounces of Tanqueray gin, 1 ounce of Stolichnaya Blue Label 100 proof vodka, 0.5 ounces of Lillet Blanc, and 2 dashes or orange bitters. Garnished with a lemon twist.

Is it true that the formula for Gordon's gin has changed since 1953, and this might be the reason why it may no longer be the preferred gin for the Vesper cocktail?

I have also become a fan of orange bitters in my martinis, so much so that I now take a bottle of Angostura orange bitters with me to any bar I go to that doesn't stock any kind of orange bitters at all. I then hand the bottle to the bartender and instruct him/her to add two dashes to the mixing glass for my martini. I think this is giving me the reputation of an eccentric, but so be it.

If you like the Vesper cocktail, what are your preferred brands of gin and vodka?

What is your opinion of the addition of orange bitters in a Vesper cocktail?

PP

about 8 hours ago
PontiusPalate in Spirits

A Question About Chilling A Martini Glass

The Big Crunch,

Many thanks for the information above. I am glad to hear that at least a few of our local bartenders are doing it right.

Unfortunately, I have yet to find a bar in my area that uses a glass chiller as you have described.

I have just ordered Jim Meehan's PDT Cocktail book.

PP

Sep 07, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

I recently had a martini that was neither shaken nor stirred. Instead, the bartender merely swirled it around in the shaker with a slow clockwise motion with his hand. He did this for about 30 seconds.

The end result was a martini with a clarity and texture very similar to that of a stirred martini. In fact, I couldn't tell the difference.

Then again, it has only been within the past few weeks since I became converted to stirred martinis over shaken martinis.

PP

Sep 07, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

A Question About Chilling A Martini Glass

Last night I went to a bar and ordered a gin martini with 2.5 ounces of gin, 0.5 ounces of vermouth, 2 dashes of orange bitters, prepared stirred for 30 seconds, and with a twist of lemon.

I expected the bartender to throw me out after making such a detailed request. Our local bartenders are not accustomed to this sort of thing.

To my surprise, the bartender was very friendly and willing to make this martini for me. As I watched him make it, I made the following observation.

When he chilled the martini glass, he filled it full of ice cubes. But then he did something I had never seen before. He filled it full of water.

It is my guess that he thought that adding water to the ice in the martini glass would chill the glass faster. When he ready to pour the mixture of the gin, vermouth, and the orange bitters into the martini glass, he threw out both the ice and the water.

Did the bartender make a mistake by adding water to the ice in the martini glass in an attempt to chill it? This is not the way that Jim Meehan does it in the video I recently watched.

PP

Sep 01, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Looking For A Good Beginner's Cocktail Kit

I would like to thank you all once again for the leads and suggestions you provided in regard to the development of a beginner's cocktail kit.

I did follow the suggestion for investigating a local restaurant supply store. We have a small one in my area, and I was able to buy the following:

A set of jiggers
A Hawthorne strainer
A Boston shaker
A muddler
Two pint size mixing glasses

I still need to get the following:

A cocktail stirring spoon
A mint julep strainer, like the kind that Jim Meehan used in the video I recently posted in the other thread I started in regard to the stirring of martinis.

Neither of the above were available at our local restaurant supply store.

Hopefully, I will have my cocktail kit completed soon, so that I can start to practice making some of my own cocktails and martinis.

If I can learn how to make a decent martini and Manhattan by the end of the year, I will be very pleased.

Thanks again!

PP

Aug 31, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

Hello zin1953,

I believe he described the martini he was making in the video as one he would make for himself. This is what caused me to wonder if he really does like orange bitters in his own martinis.

If he does like orange bitters in his martinis, but did not include them in this particular martini for whatever reason, it is my guess that he would put them in the mixing glass first, then the vermouth, the gin, and finally the ice, in that order.

Does this guess sound correct?

By the way, I had a stirred Bombay gin martini with orange bitters the other night that was great. I am now sold on orange bitters in my martinis from now on.

I am also now off the Hendrick's.

PP

Aug 30, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

I have just found the following video that features Jim Meehan, a bartender whose name seems to be highly regarded here, preparing a classic gin martini.

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

As you can see, he adds the vermouth and then the gin into the chilled mixing glass before adding the ice.

I like the way he explains his rationale for performing each step.

One more question. I noticed that he did not add any orange bitters to his martini.

Does this mean that he is not a fan of orange bitters in a martini?

PP

Aug 30, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Looking For A Good Beginner's Cocktail Kit

The Big Crunch,

Many thanks for the tip on the Oxo vegetable peeler. I don't have one at the moment. If Oxo makes it, I am sure it will serve me well when it comes to cutting the lemon twists for my martinis.
PP

Aug 28, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Pho vs. Ramen [moved from L.A. board]

I don't think so.

Overall, I like pho better, regardless of the price.

Maybe it's because I have been eating pho a lot longer than ramen.

In all fairness, I probably need to eat ramen a little longer to see if I am able to develop more of a taste for it.

PP

Aug 28, 2014
PontiusPalate in General Topics

Pho vs. Ramen [moved from L.A. board]

In resurrecting this topic thread, I would like to answer the question posed above.

If given the choice between eating pho or ramen every day for the rest of my life, my choice is pho hands down.

I guess this puts me in the minority.

We have both a pho restaurant and a ramen restaurant in my neighborhood. They are about a 5-minute walk away from each other.

A small bowl of pho at the pho restaurant costs $7.75. A bowl of ramen at the ramen restaurant costs exactly $12.

The size and volume of the small bowl of pho at the pho restaurant and that of the bowl of ramen at the ramen restaurant are about the same.

As a result, I am paying over $4 more for a bowl of ramen at the ramen restaurant that is about equivalent in size and volume as the bowl of pho at the pho restaurant.

Don't get me wrong. I like ramen. It's just like I like pho better. I prefer rice noodles to ramen noodles. I enjoy being able to add fresh herbs and spices to my pho.

I enjoy many different varieties of pho, including those which include beef, chicken, and shrimp. I haven't experienced quite the degree of variety available in ramen that is available in ramen.

I have never had a bowl of ramen that justifies the difference is costs.

Maybe I have never really had a great bowl of ramen. But I have had many great bowls of pho.

PP

Aug 28, 2014
PontiusPalate in General Topics

Looking For A Good Beginner's Cocktail Kit

The Big Crunch,

Thank you very much for your suggestions and recommendations above. I especially like your suggestion of keeping a few chilled glasses in my freezer.

I have a juicer which I have never got around to using. I guess I will dust it off and start doing so.

I also like your suggestion of the hand held mesh strainer and the books you listed.

Thanks again!

PP

Aug 27, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Looking For A Good Beginner's Cocktail Kit

Hello patsully,

Many thanks for your suggestions above. I have bookmarked the links you provided.

I plan to start off by making martinis only, so I especially apreciate the link to the solution of chilling a martini glass with smaller cubes.

Thanks again!

PP

Aug 27, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Looking For A Good Beginner's Cocktail Kit

Hello kimfair1,

Many thanks for your suggestions above, especially the Oxo measuring cup, the heavy pint glass, and the Hawthorne strainer. I had also noted the sets of Oxo jiggers on Amazon.com.

I will check out the Boston Shaker website.

Thanks again!

PP

Aug 27, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Looking For A Good Beginner's Cocktail Kit

JungMann,

Many thanks for your suggestions above.

Your suggestion about chilling the glass in the freezer wrapped around a paper towel was very helpful.

I had also forgotten about the paring knife.

I will probably start out by making martinis only.

Thanks again!

PP

Aug 27, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Looking For A Good Beginner's Cocktail Kit

Hello mcsheridan,

Many thanks for the link you provided for the cocktail kit above. It was actually cheaper than I thought it would be. I had envisioned such a cocktail kit costing at least $100.

There is also a restaurant supply store in my area, and I am going to check that out as well.

Thanks again.

PP

Aug 27, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Looking For A Good Beginner's Cocktail Kit

Greetings:

In the past, I have stated in the past that I don't like to drink at home alone.

However, I have decided that I would like to start experimenting with making a few of my own cocktails and martinis at least one evening a week.

At the present time, I don't own any bar equipment whatsoever.

What I am looking for is a good cocktail making kit, one that would be suitable for a beginner, and one that includes all of the necessary equipment. I am guessing that this would include a shaker, a strainer, a stirring stick, and a set of jiggers.

Did I leave anything out?

Do any of you know of such a kit that you would recommend?

One more question. I am guessing that I would need to buy a new set of ice cube trays, ones which house the smaller size cubes. It is my guess that the smaller size cubes would be more suitable for chilling my martini glass and for the stirring process.

Would you agree?

I also want to buy some martini glasses. I am thinking of buying one of each size, from the largest to the smallest. I am guessing that I would have to buy those separately.

Any comments and suggestions would be deeply appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

PP

Aug 26, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits
1

A Question About Stirring Martinis

Here goes a follow-up question.

What would you say is the desired rate of speed when stirring a martini?

My guess would be that the stirring spoon should take about one second for each rotation it travels around the circumference of the glass, for a total stirring time of about 30 seconds.

It should be a slow and gentle stir instead of a rapid one.

Does that sound about right?

In one of the videos I saw, the bartender gave the gin and vermouth in the stirring glass a vigorous rapid stir and said that it should be stirred exactly 50 times. But wouldn't that tend to give the texture of the gin more of a diluted effect?

PP

Aug 26, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

Hello hill food,

I am a recent convert to stirred martinis over shaken martinis. But I still like the big ones.

I recently found a new bar that prepares a wonderful stirred martini in one of the large conical shaped glasses I like.

I simply asked for a Bombay Sapphire Martini, up and dry, with a lemon twist. This was a change from the usual Hendricks cucumber gin martinis I was getting in the past.

I don't know how much vermouth the bartender put into the martini. I didn't ask. All I know is that he free poured some vermouth into the glass.

I have complained about the taste of vermouth in the past, but now with this one. This martini had flavor as well as size and a decent volume of gin.

PP

Aug 26, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

Hello fourunder,

Many thanks for your reply. I had the feeling that placing the ice in the glass first was correct. It seems more intuitive to me. Yet two of the three videos I watched showed the gin and vermouth going in first.

PP

Aug 26, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

A Question About Stirring Martinis

Greetings:

I watched three YouTube videos earlier this evening on how to prepare a gin martini with the stirring method.

In two of the videos, the bartender poured the gin and the vermouth into the stirring glass first -- and then dumped the ice inside -- before stirring.

In one of the other videos, the bartender filled the stirring glass with the ice first -- and then added the gin and the vermouth -- before stirring.

Which method do you consider to be correct?

By the way, I went to a bar two nights ago where my martinis had always been shaken. This time I asked the bartender to refrain from shaking and to give it a 30 second stir instead.

This totally freaked him out. He told me that he had never prepared a stirred martini before. He also said that he always shakes his own martinis so that he can enjoy the shards of ice that come out on top.

I might add that the person sitting next to me at the bar also ordered a martini, which was prepared shaken. I couldn't help but notice that his martini has a cloudy appearance and lacked the crystal clear appearance that mine displayed.

PP

Aug 25, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Craft Cocktails In Hampton Roads

JMF,

Many thanks for your comments above.

To answer your question, a martini is most commonly defined in our area is any alcoholic beverage that is poured into a conical shaped martini glass.

I ate at the bar of a high end steakhouse in downtown Norfolk last week. An elderly and well dressed couple sitting next to me both ordered a "chocolate martini." Apparently, most of our local bars choose to put such drinks on their "martini" menus in order to cater to local tastes.

Do you remember the thread I started last year on the "Black Soybean Martini?" This is still being served by one of the highest rated restaurants in Norfolk.

In regard to the "muddled" Virginia Dare cocktail described in this article, which I had also tried, I also noted the bits and pieces of mint and cucumber sticking to my teeth and gums as I was drinking it. This was another complaint I had about this cocktail, in addition to the excessive volume of ice.

I have also had my Hendricks Gin martinis which were "muddled" with cucumber pieces as well, with their seeds floating on top. These are not to my liking.

Sometimes a new bartender who has never served me before will suggest this method of preparation to me, and they are usually surprised when I decline.

PP

Aug 19, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Craft Cocktails In Hampton Roads

JMF,

Many thanks for your the more accurate historical background you provided on the history of cocktails in the United States. Very interesting!

I remember all too well my own hippie days. Alcoholic beverages were regarded as a symbol of the "establishment" and I wanted no part of them. Most of us thought we represented the next stage in human evolution.

You wrote:

>>As for the cocktails... they sound like well made drinks, although derivative of what has been done elsewhere for the last 10-15 years. A great intro to fine cocktails for an area that hasn't been known for them.<<

I am pleased to hear this. Maybe there is hope for our area after all.

PP

Aug 19, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Craft Cocktails In Hampton Roads

A review in our local newspaper of one of our newest cocktail bars appears in the following link:

http://hamptonroads.com/2014/08/spiri...

I am sure that most of you will find the following quote to be cringe worthy:
__________

>>"We shake our martinis until our hands stick to the tin...," promised Beth Hobbs, manager and chief bartender, whose staff gets rigorous training before taking to the rail."<<
__________

I did try their Virginia Dare cocktail as described in the article. In my opinion, it was served jam packed with far too many ice cubes, so much so that they had a suffocating effect upon the drink. I was not impressed.

I also ordered one of their "classic martinis." Sure enough, it was shaken instead of stirred. No orange bitters were added. Two lemon slices were hastily cut up and dumped on top of the martini, so they were merely floating around. The result was a very mediocre and unsatisfying martini.

Believe it or not, I am finally beginning to prefer my martinis stirred instead of shaken.

PP

Aug 18, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Craft Cocktails In Hampton Roads

The following article features four of the best bartenders in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. The recipes of some of their favorite cocktails are provided.

http://distinctionhr.com/2014/08/in-t...

I have had the pleasure of enjoying at least one of the creations of one of the bartenders featured.

I welcome your thoughts and opinions on this article and on any of the recipes featured.

PP

Aug 18, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

Even though this article was written in 2005, it was posted TODAY on Tales of the Cocktail's Facebook page. That is what caught my attention.

PP

Aug 12, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

Hello zin1953,

Many thanks for posting these menus.

There is no cocktail menu here in Norfolk, Virginia, that even comes close to any of these.

From the bar menu from Loa in NOLA, I definitely like the description of the Delilah, the Canary, and the Sweet Virginia.

PP

Aug 12, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

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

Aug 12, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

Expert bartender Toby Ellis has written the following article in defense of free pour!

http://bartendbetternow.com/toby-elli...

PP

Aug 12, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

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

Aug 12, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits

Killer Bloody Mary Mix Recipe?

Speaking of Bloody Marys, get a load of this one!

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelysander...

Aug 11, 2014
PontiusPalate in Spirits