This week’s Friday round up of links was one of my biggest collections, with over 100 linked stories, and I didn’t see much in the news yesterday that struck me with that sense of “Dang! I wish I’d known that to include in this week’s list,” nor many that made me go “Oh! We have to follow up on that!” Part of the reason is that I seem to be coming down with something and had barely enough energy to get through my work day yesterday, let alone spend any break time reading news. I crashed right after logging out at work, then got up and started dinner and so on.
But I noticed that once again a couple of links that I had bookmarked to include in yesterday’s list were missed, and one of them absolutely must be shared!
ANSI STANDARD K100.1-1974: SAFETY CODE AND REQUIREMENTS FOR DRY MARTINIS. The American National Standards Institute is (to quote Wikipedia): “a private non-profit organization that oversees the development of voluntary consensus standards for products, services, processes, systems, and personnel in the United States. The organization also coordinates U.S. standards with international standards so that American products can be used worldwide.” ANSI was originally founded nearly 100 years ago when five societies of engineers and three government agencies founded the American Engineering Standards Committee. The organization went through a few name changes over the years before settling on the current name in 1969. ANSI doesn’t impose standards upon industries and so forth, but provides an accreditation of the processes that industry groups, committees, and so forth use to adopt standards. It then publishes the standards once adopted by the group.
Anyway, the amusing document I have linked is a real ANSI standard, originally published through the ANSI process in 1966, and last updated in 1974. When you read it, you can tell it was meant as a joke, but we all know how engineers and scientists can take a joke too far. I don’t know which part made me laugh hardest—probably the table entitled “Maximum Permissible Olive Displacement.” I’m very happy to note that the official ANSI standard for martini forbids vodka from the drink. They won me over right there!
For purely scientific reasons earlier this week I made a martini according to the specifications and thoroughly test it. It was delicious. The standard calls for a 16-to-1 ratio of gin to dry vermouth (variants as high as 20-to-1 are also permissible), and only one olive, the size of which depends upon the size of the serving glass and is listed in the table that made me laugh. I used my favorite gin, Bombay Sapphire.
When I usually make my own martinis at home, the ratio I use is 7-to-1 or 8-to-1. And I really love olives, so I usually put about three olives on a single toothpick to go with the drink. So this was definitely different than my usual. Very good, and I will probably start making them at a higher than 8-to-1 ratio more often in the future. It’s a little difficult to hit that ratio the way I usually make martinis, because normally I make them in a smaller coup-style cocktail glass (of which I own an antique set). The coup glass holds about a 3oz or 3½oz drink, so I would need to measure ⅛ of an ounce of vermouth to 2oz of gin (plus room for the olive); while all of my measuring devices only go down to a ¼ of an ounce. I can eyeball an eighth of an ounce, but it isn’t ideal.
For my experiment I used my more modern martini glass which can hold about a 5oz or 5½oz drink, so it was ¼oz vermouth to 4oz gin, plus the olive.
As I was getting to the end of the drink, I figured for science sake I needed to compare it to another version. Either my usual 8-to-1 ratio with three olives, or my favorite martini, which is to make puppy eyes at my hubby (who used to be a bartender) to make me one. His method it so put ¼oz of vermouth in the shaker with ice, swish it around, then pour the vermouth down the sink, and then pour gin over the ice (which has trace amounts of vermouth) clinging to it, shake it, and pour it into a glass. I have tried to make them exactly as he shows me, and they just taste like plain gin when I do it. When Michael does it, some how, it still has the magical hint of vermouth. Anyway, I asked my husband, and he said he was willing to make me one, but since most of the time I made my own, the most responsible scientific comparison would be to compare it to my usual recipe. So that’s what I did.
I liked it as well. I can’t really say that one was significantly better than the other, though I did like the higher ratio of gin, my main critique of the ANSI standard martini was that with only one olive there was an even tinier trace of olive brine in the mix, and I missed it. I have to confess, here, that often I like what is called a Dirty Martini, where you add between ½ to an ounce of olive brine to the recipe. A lot of martini people don’t like dirty martinis (my good friend, Jared, refers to dirty martinis as “vile” in a rather emphatic tone of voice; but then, he insists that lemon peel is the superior garnish for a gin martini, so what does he know?).
Anyway, clearly more experimentation is needed. I’ll probably be trying the higher ratios of gin with my usual number of olives. And, of course, I need to try a dirty variant. In the interest of science, I will probably even try the ANSI ratios with a lemon peel garnish. It’s all for science, right?