Showing posts with label martini. Show all posts
Showing posts with label martini. Show all posts

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Guest Blogger: J.J. Murphy!

Hello, friends, and Happy New Year!  Please join me in welcoming the wildly cool and enviably brilliant J.J. Murphy to the Kitchen ... J.J.'s Algonquin Round Table Mystery series launched last January with Murder Your Darlings.  The most recent, You Might as Well Die, came out last month.  They're delightful must-reads for cozy fans as well as lovers of historical fiction, traditional mysteries, and generally clever prose.

Potent Potables from Prohibition

You know Dorothy Parker, don’t you? Even if you don’t, you probably do. She was a writer, poet and critic who came to fame in New York in the 1920s. Nowadays, she’s better known for her wisecracks than her writing, such as, “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses” and “That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say No in any of them.” She was one of the few women members of the Algonquin Round Table—a group of critics, writers and wits who traded quips and insults over lunch every day at the Algonquin Hotel. “It was the 20s,” Dorothy said, and “we had to be smarty.”

She was a thinker and a drinker. (And in my Algonquin Round Table Mystery series, she is also an amateur detective.) You may have heard this little rhyme, attributed to her:

I love a martini—
But two at the most.
Three, I’m under the table.
Four, I’m under the host.

Robert Benchley, Dorothy’s dear friend and another member of the Algonquin Round Table, also loved a martini. He’s known for this famous line: “Why don’t you get out of those wet clothes and into a dry martini?” Good idea, Mr. Benchley! To that end, here’s the recipe for a classic martini. Take note that it’s only 3 ounces of liquid, compared to the 7-ounce or mammoth 10-ounce cocktails that bartenders serve today. That’s how they did it back then. It was small enough that the drink stayed chilled until you finished it.

Classic Martini

2 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 green olive or lemon twist for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker half filled with ice cubes. Stir or shake for one minute. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the olive or lemon twist.

Dorothy Parker also wrote:

Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

You don’t need an event like New Year’s to enjoy Champagne or sparkling wine. Any night can be worthy of some bubbly. Try this flavorful twist on Champagne:

Champagne Cocktail

1 sugar cube
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Lemon twist

Drop the sugar cube into a champagne glass and soak it with the bitters. Fill the rest of the glass with champagne. Garnish with the lemon twist. Option: add an ounce of cognac.

Alexander Woollcott, an acerbic member of the Round Table and the role model for the title character in the play “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” tried to take credit for the Brandy Alexander cocktail. He liked to say, "All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal, or fattening."  This cocktail satisfied just about all those requirements during the Prohibition era:

Brandy Alexander

1 1/2 oz brandy
1 oz creme de cacao (brown or dark)
1 oz half-and-half
1/4 tsp grated (or ground) nutmeg

Shake the liquid ingredients together in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice cubes. Strain it into a cocktail glass or small brandy snifter. Garnish with the nutmeg.

Cheers to 2012!

In YOU MIGHT AS WELL DIE, J.J. Murphy’s latest Algonquin Round Table Mystery, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley try to figure out why a second-rate illustrator jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. Meanwhile, they’re busy scrounging up enough money to pay off their bar tab at their favorite speakeasy—and debunking Halloween séances with Harry Houdini.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Raspberry Lemon Drop Martini

In my new series (turned in the first manuscript about two weeks ago!), my character, Grace Wheaton, says that there’s no better drink to celebrate with than a Raspberry Lemon Drop martini. And she’s right.

My eldest daughter graduated college from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida in 2008. (Check out some of her artwork here: ) While we were all down there for graduation my brother’s partner, Mitch, invited us out for drinks at the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton. The waitress there suggested the Raspberry Lemon Drop and it was *fabulous.* Really, truly, the finest martini I’ve ever encountered. And so pretty!

Back home I was unsuccessful trying to find another restaurant to serve anything even close. Some of them were downright terrible. So, I blogged about it. To my great surprise, Valerie from the Ritz-Carlton in Sarasota saw my lament and sent me the recipe! Wow. Talk about incredible customer service! She shared it in my blog comments here: but I’ve since tweaked it ever so slightly so that it makes two servings at once—because I don’t ever enjoy these by myself. They’re too much fun to share.

The *most* important ingredients here are the freshly squeezed lemon juice and the homemade simple syrup. And trust me, it’s very simple. I’ve tried making these with store-bought sour mix and the results are not nearly as good. The difference between homemade mix and the kind that comes from a bottle are worth the small effort it takes to make your own.

Next time you’re ready to celebrate or just relax, here’s the beverage to do it with:

Raspberry Lemon Drop

I use the cap of my martini shaker as a measurement. So, rather than ounces, I use “parts.”

3 parts Raspberry Vodka (I like Stoli Razz. Not terribly expensive compared to others.)
2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 parts simple syrup (recipe below)
Chambord raspberry liqueur
Fresh raspberries
Sugar to rim the glass (you can use sugar on a plate. I actually splurge and buy lemon sugar)

Mix the first three ingredients *not the Chambord* in a martini shaker, with lots of ice.
Rub the rims of two martini glasses with lemon peel (from squeezed lemons) and then turn glasses upside down in the sugar one at a time. Wiggle until rims are coated. Bring glasses upright.

Pour one serving of martini into each, careful not to mess the sugar. Leave a little room.

Pour a quick drip of Chambord into the center of each glass, allowing it to settle in the bottom.
Garnish with fresh raspberries.

If you’re only serving a few people and you have room, you may want to freeze your martini glasses ahead of time. They look so fresh coming out frosty.

Not exactly low calorie, I know. But worth an occasional indulgence.

Simple Syrup

You’re not going to believe how easy this is.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Boil until clear, stirring occasionally to get the sugar to dissolve. Let cool

That’s it! I usually make 2 – 4 cups of syrup at once. Depends on how many people I’m serving, and how long I expect them to stay. Always easier to pull more syrup out of the fridge than have to zip up another batch with folks right there. I also always squeeze the lemons ahead of time and keep the juice in the fridge. For parties, I’ve sometimes pre-combined the lemon and syrup in a 1:2 ratio just to have it handy and not have to mess around too much when time is at a premium.

With friends over for Labor Day to chitchat and play Rook (that's me and my good friend, Rene, sipping), and with a whole bunch of landscaping work done this weekend, I think there was cause to celebrate. If you enjoy the occasional indulgence, I hope you try this recipe. It's perfect for parties.


The White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime.

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