Confessions of a Reluctant Tent Pole, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Make the Perfect Martini

I keep having thoughts that are too long to go into a tweet, but that I’m not sure are enough for a blog post. So I don’t write them down at all. Which has resulted in many weeks where they only thing posted to my blog has been the Friday Five posts.

I’ve resolved that I need to get back to posting things, especially if they are not about troubling news stories and the like.

I rhetorically asked on twitter recently: "Is there any better way to kick off a night of editing than with an ice cold martini made with Botanist gin, Noilly-Pratt vermouth, chilled to near freezing?"

The reason I had such an ice cold martini ready to go that evening requires a bit of a story. During the last year and a half at work we have frequently had software release days that had way too much in common with a marathon. Part of the issue is that there are a few of us (I’m the only technical writer in our entire division, for instance) who are on every single project. So I am the one who finalizes and releases all of the documents related to a particular release, right?

And no matter how I try to get any of the documents done early, there are always some last minute changes that are deemed show stoppers. And some details that need to go into the Release Notes, in particular, can not be known until the final build artifacts are finished. So I’m usually up late on these days, scrambling to get things done.

Our group currently only has one Project Manager, and she has to send out the official release notification, which can’t be done until I have uploaded all of the finalized documents to the official locations. She is in the Eastern Time Zone, while I’m in the Pacific Time Zone. Which means that if I don’t get finished until 9pm, she isn’t finishing until after midnight.

We had a particularly bad couples of weeks a while back with two or three releases in each of the two weeks, which meant a lot of very late nights for some of us. (I should mention that we have managed to make the process slightly more rational since, so the really late nights are happening less often). Back to those two weeks. It was very cranky-making, so on the Friday of the second week, having had four previous recent nights were I was working until at least 9pm, I really felt I needed a reward to look forward to when we completed the work.

There was a moment in the early evening were I had finished the more that a dozen other documents and uploaded them, when I was informed by one of the engineering managers that it would be at least an hour before they could give me the last remaining details of the Release Notes. So I headed into the kitchen to start dinner cooking, and made myself a martini.

I mixed up one of my usual 8 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth in one of my metal cocktail shakers full of ice, and then stuck the shaker and its contents into the freezer to wait.

I got this idea from an interview some years ago of Sir Roger Moore. Because Moore had played James Bond for many years, he was more than occasionally asked about his favorite way to make a martini. He was specifically interviewed on that subject at least once on the occasion of World Martini Day. At that point, Moore mentioned that for health reasons he could no longer drink alcohol, but he explained the process, which included putting the shaker full of ice and the mixed alcohol into a freezer for a minimum of two hours. He made the suggestion that if you followed his recipe, that you put at least two olives on the garnish, so that when you had finished the drink you could offer one olive to him, and thus give him a taste.

The week that Moore died, I searched out that interview and mixed myself a martini his way, including keeping it in the freezer to two hours.

It was so, so delicious!

Since that one evening, I often on software release days mix up a martini in the late afternoon and stick it in the freezer to way to serve in a chilled glass once we’re finished and I have logged out of the work network.

I mentioned that my usual martini is an 8-to-1 mix. And it’s always gin and dry vermouth. If you’re making it with vodka it is not, IMHO, a martini. And it’s not thus me, the official ANSI standard for martinis agrees: ANSI STANDARD K100.1-1974: SAFETY CODE AND REQUIREMENTS FOR DRY MARTINIS.

That document heavily prefers a 16-to-1 ratio. I’ve made martinis to that ratio and they are good. I happen to like a good vermouth, and also since I’m usually serving myself my martinis in a classic coup glass or a nick and nora glass–which only hold a bit more the 3 ounces of cocktail–it’s just not easy to measure out the vermouth in a teeny enough quantity to make it work.

My favorite gin for a martini has been The Botanist for a while, and my favorite vermouth is Noilly Pratt. The Botanist is about twice as expensive per ounce as my next favorite and several other acceptable brands, so I often make martinis with one of the other gins. I really like olives, so I usually garnish with one or three olives. My favorite olives for martinis are San Diego Olive Company Pimento Olives, by the way.

There are several gins that do not go well with the briny taste of olive (New Amsterdam, Roku, and Brockmans) so if I’m using one of those for my martini I garnish with a twist of lemon or a twist of lime.

The fun thing about last week’s software release day is, that during my lunch break I mixed up the martini and shoved it in the freezer compartment of our fridge, assuming it was going to be one of those late nights. But when I got back to my computer, all of the other work from other departments was finished. So we managed to release whole thing before 2pm my time, which was before 5pm for the project manager.

The martini wound up sitting in the freezer for a bit over 7 hours before I poured it and took my first sip.

And it was delicious!

1 thought on “Confessions of a Reluctant Tent Pole, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Make the Perfect Martini

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