is exactly what I'm tucking into right now. There is really nothing finer than trying to stay thought-provoking and lucid while that delightful concoction washes over your brain - a kind of gymnastics in which one can never improve. How many times do you sit down with a drink in hopes of being able to stay clear-headed, knowing damned well that in a short time you are going to be struggling to hit the center of the toilet bowl with a stream of urine? More times than you want to imagine, homeboy.
I remember distinctly the first time I ever had a really fine martini given to me, just as distinctly as I remember the first martini I ever tried to make. The former was a Hendricks martini, sipped on a summer evening in the Catskills. The latter is a whole lot more interesting of a story.
I think I was about 7 or 8. My parents, never really big martini drinkers, had nonetheless sat down for drinks with some friends who were visiting (I think it must have been the holidays, most likely). Wacky as it sounds to our oh-so-enlightened 21st century ideals, mom showed me how to pour a diamond martini - washing the inside of the glass with Vermouth, pouring the remnants out, refilling the glass with gin and then topping it off with an olive. I think I poured 3 of these without supervision, and in the course of doing so I found the aroma of the gin and the olives so intoxicating (no pun intended) that when I had delivered all of the drinks I then proceeded to pour myself one in a shot glass, reasoning that since I was a lot smaller than the adults in the other room, I should have a proportionately smaller drink. I had just poured the thing when my mother walked in and asked what I was doing. I told her that I had poured one for myself. This did not sit well with mom, and she quickly rethought the wisdom of having a 7 year-old pour martinis. She took it away from me and sent me to the other room, where I could safely occupy myself with things that kids did in 1975. Probably watching TV or something mind-expanding like that.
My next experience with the martini did not come for probably another 25 or thirty years, and it came just as these delightful drinks were starting to come back into vogue. That wonderful, heady aroma of gin and vermouth and olives is in my brain, though -- always has been, always will be. Love it, love it, love it.