Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dive Right In

Hey, that would make a good name for a bar, the Dive Right Inn. One day, though, I will open my Loose Stool Bar @ Grill, home of the world-famous Loose Stool Burger.

But, back to business. The Mysterious Chinese Woman left for a bit yesterday afternoon so I figured it would be a good time to make my Miller's Martini. Maybe I shouldn't have visited Gaid at the Waterfront Ale House first, where I had a couple or three IPA's, the brand of which now escapes me. Maybe I should have had more for lunch than a bowl of popcorn. Maybe I should floss regularly.

Waterfront Ale House on Urbanspoon

But I digress. First, I assembled the essentials, Vya Dry Vermouth, Miller's Gin, Fee Brother's Lemon Bitters, my favorite measuring beaker, and an appropriate sized Martini glass.

The Essentials Assembled

Now, don''t get me wrong. I like my bigger cocktail glasses as well. The beauty on the left (below) is one of three Art Deco ones that I have, all similar but unique. Too big for a Martini or a Manhattan though, unless you like them on the rocks. And I don't. They might be okay for a lighter cocktail, like a Cosmopolitan. At the rate I slurp down Margaritas, they would work for them as well. But the little one on the left, from a set of six that a good friend gave me, is my favorite for the stiff drinks served straight up.

Actually, one of my three art deco glasses was given to me by my Mysterious Sister-In-Law, but I don't remember which one. Bad Bar Man. Okay, let me be a bit more precise. I remember which Mysterious Sister-In-Law gave me the glass, I just don't remember which of the three glasses. They are very similar; the glasses, not the Mysterious Sister-In-Laws.

For Comparison Purposes Only

And my favorite cocktail shaker. They were selling replicas of this at the Museum Of Natural History for about $25 one time. I got this one for one dollar at a flea market, and it is an original. You know it is an old shaker because the recipe for a Martini is just two parts gin to one part Vermouth. Martinis have gotten a lot stronger over the years. To the point where some people simply wash the ice cubes in the Vermouth and then toss it. Others simply coat the inside of the Martini glass with it. For awhile I was using an oil mister (a thing intended for coating a pan with oil) to just spritz the top of the Martini after it was in the glass. Now I like them eight to one with a good Vermouth. Interestingly, though, the recipe on the shaker does call for orange bitters.

My Favorite Shaker With His Little Friend

Time for your trivia lesson. Ernest Hemingway liked his Martinis ice gold and straight up. He also liked them made 12 parts gin to 1 part Vermouth. He called these Montgomery Martinis after British General Sir Bernard Montgomery who, supposedly, refused to attack enemy forces unless he outnumbered them 12 to 1. It was not intended to be an endearment.

Okay, one more, if you insist. Luis Bunuel, considered to be one of Spain's finest directors (he once collaborated on a film with Salvador Dali) kept a bottle of Vermouth on a window sill. He proclaimed that the sunlight passing through the bottle and shining on his glass of gin was enough Vermouth for his liking.

Be that as it may, I prefer a bit of the taste of the Vermouth to come through. James Bond's preferred Martini, which he named the Vesper Martini after a woman he loved who met a tragic fate (don't they all) called for gin, vodka, and Kina Lillet. I don't know if you can get Kina Lillet anymore, but Lillet Blanc is pretty close.

I threw all of the ingredients into my cocktail shaker with a whole ice-cube tray full of ice minus the one cube I used to chill my Martini glass, shook vigorously for several minutes, dumped the ice-water out of the Martini glass, and dumped the Martini in.

A Thing Of Beauty

Makes You Want To Dive Right In

And dive in is just what I did.

Here's Looking At You

It was sunny early this morning when I went out to get the paper, but it seems to be clouding up. I am hoping it doesn't rain, though, because the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I are heading to Coney Island for their annual Mermaid Parade. Harvey Keitel is leading the parade as King Neptune. I think this is far and away the biggest celebrity they have ever had doing this. Can Robert De Niro be far behind.

Actually there is a large gay presence at the Mermaid Parade and, shortly after Robert De Niro was born, his father, also named Robert, came out of the closet. More useless trivia for you. Okay, a bit more, Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando are the only two actors to win an Oscar for playing the same character, Vito Corleone. I am on a roll and just can't stop. Up until Vincent D'Onofrio gained 70 pounds for his role in Full Metal Jacket, De Niro held the record when he gained 60 pounds to play Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. De Niro lost all of the weight during the filming, which shot the scenes of the older and heavier Jake first and then, as De Niro lost weight, shot the scenes of the younger Jake.

Robert De Niro is only one-quarter Italian.

I am done now, I promise. I hope to get some decent shots of the parade today. I am meeting my friend Allen at Ruby's on the boardwalk at around 1:00 P.M., so that can only lead to trouble. He rented a room in town so, after our day of carousing, he doesn't have to travel back to wherever he comes from. Somewhere in Pennsylvania, I know, because he is a Steelers fan and likes to dress up in their bumblebee colors of black and yellow.

Maybe we can go to Footprints Cafe for some dynamite Carribean food after the parade. I love that place. They also have some staggeringly powerful rum drinks that go down way to well. It might be too crowded though.

Footprints Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's Miller's Time

I made a dynamite batch of Martinis the other night when my darling brother-in-law Jim stopped by for a visit. Failed to take any pictures but I will add one when I make another, probably in about half-an-hour.

Eight parts Miller's Gin
One part Vya Dry Vermouth
One dash Fee Brother's Lemon Bitters

Shake with plenty of cold ice (and yes, not all ice is the same temperature) and pour into a well chilled Martini glass of your choosing. I prefer mine to be on the small side and then make an additional Martini if I want more rather then ending up with half of a less than ice-cold one. That is my biggest gripe about the expensive ones that you get in bars now. They are too damn big.

If you are compelled to make a BIG Martini to justify the price and cut down on the mixing and shaking time, serve a more than decent four ounces in an appropriate sized glass and then figure out a way to keep the rest cold. In a little shaker with ice is one way, but not the best. In a little carafe stuck in ice is even better. Or just make the damn things smaller, charge less, and let the customer decide if he wants more.

I get one of those big Martinis and it starts to go warm on me I start thinking I should have just bought a pint of gin at the liquor store and drunk it straight from the bottle. A hell of a lot cheaper that way. Particularly when so many bartenders now seem to regard Vermouth as an after-thought and not an essential ingredient. Given the quality of the Vermouth most bars use and it's questionable freshness, that probably isn't a bad idea, though.

Anyway, my Martini was very smooth and a bit perfumy. Just a hint of a yellowish tinge. No garnish required, but a thin slice of cucumber floated on top wouldn't be out of place.

I also poured Jim a shot of my Hangar One Chipotle Vodka and had an 'aha' moment. Todd, my friend at the liquor store, and I have been pondering over a use for Crop Organic Tomato Vodka. The next time I replenish my stock of Crop Organic Cucumber Vodka I am going to pick up a bottle of the tomato and experiment with making a Bloody Mary Martini using it, the Chipotle vodka, a dash of Worcestershire (bonus points to those who can spell that without looking it up or checking a bottle) Sauce and a dash or two of either Tabasco Sauce or Louisiana Hot Sauce. Maybe a bit of horseradish juice, if I can get some out of the bottle.

This would be perfect for those of us who like a Bloody Mary in the morning but shudder at the thought of ingesting anything as healthy as tomato juice.

I will be sure to let you know how my experimenting turns out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rooftop In Red Hook

After getting the phone call from Ellen we quickly showered and headed out to catch a bus to Red Hook. Living in one of the coolest places in the world all we had to do was walk a couple of blocks to catch the free Ikea Shuttle Bus that took us almost right there.

Almost Like A Limo

Of course you did have to kind of squeeze in.

I Should Have Oiled Up

A Plug To Ikea

Our friend, Ellen, was able to take a free water taxi from downtown Manhattan to get here. God bless Ikea.

Rocky Sullivan's is just a short four or five blocks away from Ikea so it is almost like door-to-door transportation. And free. How can you beat that?

Rocky Sullivan's

Rocky Sullivan's is right next door to Six Points Brewery and supplies a lot of their draft beers.

Count The Points

Barrels Ready To Roll

We got here just as Marnie Rice was starting her set. She was my favorite, sounding like a cross between Tom Waits and Edith Pilaf. A lot of her songs were in French and had that kind of boozie barroom sound to them. She just came back from performing in Japan but, I think, New York is her home base. By all means, catch her if you can.

Marnie Chanelling Tom And Edith

It was a lovely afternoon. The sun came out, it was warm, and there was a nice breeze. A welcome break from what must have been one of the coldest and wettest springs in the recorded history of weather. We have had rain 14 out of the first 15 days of June and the temperature is averaging five degrees below average so far this month.

But, Today Was Beautiful

This whole shebang was Moe's doing, and it looks like he intends to keep it up throughout the summer. I will certainly be hittiing it again. How can you go wrong. I might check out the fishing trip as well.

Hanging With Moe

And Moe even provided the entertainment between the main acts. He reminded me a bit of my buddy Bob who tends to break out in song after he has had a few. Actually, I think Bob has the better voice.

Moe Singing An Irish Ballad

The next act was two thirds of Chapter Three. One of the members was missing but Peter Chance and Cecil Hooker did there best to make up for it. I don't know where Cecil gets his hair cut, but I strongly suggest you avoid the place at all costs.

Chapter Two

The last group we saw was a rolicking Irish Bar Band, the Itinerants.

Staying Put For Awhile

They make a nice pie here too. Great afternoon; beer, pizza, good music, good friend. Hey, the day sure turned out a lot better than I thought it was going to.

A Pretty Much Perfect Day

And just a short walk back to Ikea where we caught the free bus back home. It just doesn't get much better than this.

Oh, I also had jalapeno poppers, and they were dynamite. I strongly recommend that you get some if you visit. There was a pretty lively crowd at the downstairs bar too.

Rocky Sullivan's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An Amazing Coincidence

The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I were kind of planning on going to Kevin's in Red Hook for brunch today. I even bought a bottle of bubbly to bring with us because they don't have a liquor license. Well, the day was so gloomy we decided not to go.

Then, this afternoon it started to clear up a bit, but we had kind of decided to just stay in. The Mysterious Chinese Woman took some shrimp out of the freezer to cook and I kind of pouted because we were staying in on such a nice day.

Well, the phone rang and I jokingly said I hoped it was someone calling to invite us to go out. And it was. An old friend, Ellen, called to see if we wanted to go to see a band with some friends of hers in it. And where were they playing. No, not Kevin's, but damn close. They were playing at Rocky Sullivan's, in Red Hook.

Anyway, we are heading out now. I will post more about it tomorrow, but I couldn't help sharing what, to me at least, seemed like quite a coincidence. Ellen seemed to think I had somehow sent her a mental message telling her to call and invite us.