Thursday, December 31, 2015

Kumquat Martini Season

Here's a picture of our dog Chowderhead contemplating the kumquat bush in the driveway.

Kumquats are among the few foods Chowder doesn't like.  He does sometimes help out by watering the bush - in his fashion

As you can see we have a good deal of fruit this year and that fruit has been ripening nicely.  Experience has revealed that if I pick them in large quantity they'll go to waste inside.  So, instead, I leave them on the bush as long as possible.  That way I can enjoy a few freshly picked bursts of citrus each time I walk by.

Yes, I like kumquats.  I'm like the dog in one respect; there are very few foods I don't care for, but our opinions about kumquats differ.

And I am the reason we even have a kumquat bush.  Leslie planted it.  She has occasionally attempted to grow certain plants simply because I like the produce.  She herself doesn't care for kumquats any more than the dog does.  She planted it for me.  The kumquats have been a great success.  Not so great successes have included strawberries and blueberries, those are both ill-suited to our climate.

One thing I've acquired a taste for as I've grown older is martinis.  I noticed that these always tasted better to me in restaurants than when I made them at home.  So I set out to make a better martini.

To this end, several years ago, I took an informal martini making lesson from composer Bill Kraft.  Bill makes a great drink.  I've experimented with his method and lately my recipe has formalized.

I realize that tastes and dogmas vary when it comes to cocktails.  This is just how I do it.  If this doesn't sound good to you, at least you'll know not to ask me to make one for you.

Mix together:
  • 4.5 ounces (3 shots) of gin (Lately I've been enamored of 114-proof Few gin.  It's potent stuff.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vermouth (Yep, this is a dry martini.  I try to ignore Tom Lehrer's recipe: "Hearts full of youth, Hearts full of truth, Six parts gin to one part vermouth.")
  • A dash or two of Fee Brothers Orange Bitters (you might already have McCormick Orange Extract in your spice cabinet.  That'll work too.)
  • Crushed Ice  
Shake well.

Pour into a super-chilled martini glass.  I use a wine goblet from my Grandmother's etched pink depression stemware set.  My Grandmother was not a martini drinker.  The small size of this glass determines the quantity of gin in the recipe.

Garnish with two or three fresh-picked kumquats.  (In the off-season I settle for green olives.)

Drink up.  After all 'tis the season.  Best wishes for a prosperous new year to all three of my readers and everyone else as well.

The resulting libation looks something like this:

I've been using Carpano Antic Formula vermouth, a strongly-flavored dark-colored liquid.  I selected this brand mostly because it came in a small bottle.  I had been told that vermouths get old once the bottles are opened and you can well imagine that I don't go through the stuff very quickly.  I've started keeping it in the fridge to prolong its life.  I'll try another brand next time.

Listen to the source of Tom Lehrer's martini recipe:

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