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.
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?
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.
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:
With respect to the food only, this is my second most favorite restaurant in the Ghent Norfolk area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Speaking of rum, have you ever had Ma Doudou Rhum?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Rama Garden is one Thai restaurant I have not tried yet. I will make it a point to stop in for lunch soon. It is in walking distance from the downtown Norfolk YMCA where I work out.
Another Thai restaurant that is receiving some good reviews in Sawasdee Thai Cuisine, located on East Virginia Beach Boulevard. I will be going there next week with my Yelp dining club. I will let you know how I like it.
I also love Thai food, but don't seem to eat it very often these days. The best Thai restaurant I have ever tried was the Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. If I lived in Las Vegas, I would probably eat there at least once a week.
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.
Here is another very interesting article on the shaking vs. stirring debate when it comes to the preparation of Martinis:
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.
The article also states: "But a martini glass is only so big."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
What is your opinion of the Classic Martini recipe given at the end of this article?
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?
As you will notice, Hendrick's Gin was one of the Double Gold Medal winners.
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.
Ummmm...........As the original poster, I am not a "she."