Trailing Off

January 25, 2010
Valencia Martini

January 24, 2010

I’ll have to check with Sue how she’s feeling about this, but for me, the latter third of The Martini Book of recipes is just NOT inspiring me.  It could be just a conglomeration of drinks with more vermouth, Pernod, or Campari than I care for ended up clustered in the latter half of the alphabet.  Or it could be that I’ve consumed enough martinis by this point that I know whether I’m going to like something or not just by reading the ingredient list.  So forgive me for not posting these nearly as quickly as I should be, because I’m not consuming them as quickly as I should be!  🙂 

To complicate matters, I started a new job a couple of weeks ago.  Finally.  As you probably figured out from my previous posts, I’ve been unemployed for almost six months.  Which gave me plenty of time to update this blog and go hunting for obscure martini ingredients as well.  I’m working now as a contractor for the Navy, at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, CA.  Gorgeous location (for the base), although the building I work in is a squat, 1-story square box that sits in the middle of an enormous, end-of-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark, two-story storage warehouse that has about a dozen forklifts being driven around at any given time during the day.  On my way to the restroom I can pass shipping inventory that is anything from aircraft engines to toilet paper.  We have these cool machines that actually MAKE bubble wrap on the spot from huge rolls of flat plastic sheets, I think that has to be one of the most fun things (I love bubble wrap).  We have these other machines that have a big round turntable on them, maybe 6 feet across, that you can set a pallet full of stuff on and then start wrapping the entire pallet in shrink wrap as it spins around, like a box on a record player – all you have to do is guide the plastic wrap, and it just spins before you.  Like making a Saran Wrap cocoon.  My kids would probably love to get in here and figure out some way to put each other on the same machine and end up as shrink wrap mummies.  Or do the same with one of the cats.  Best they stay away!

Out in the Navy warehouse I pass pallets full of supplies simply tagged “Haiti”.  It makes me wonder when, or even if, the flow of aid to earthquake-striken Haiti will end.  You think maybe a few hundred years ago, it would have been good if the Haitians got together and said, “You know, living here sucks.  Let’s move,” and just abandoned the whole country.  I don’t think some places are meant to be lived in by humans.  Haiti is probably one of those places.  Sadly, I’m well aware that the natives there could no more afford to relocate back then than they could now.  For all that people will bitch about the United States, we are lucky to live in a country full of natural resources, and relatively clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and safe places to build our homes.  Never take it for granted.  I think about a decade ago, I used to take job security somewhat for granted.  Not anymore.

For the better part of the last 13 years, I have worked in biotech/pharmaceuticals, with the exception of a couple of stints as a technical writer for Qualcomm, Ericsson, and an aerospace company, SpaceDev.  I’ve jumped around in pharma from being a clinical documents person to a forms designer to managing operations and data entry, and then into regulatory submissions.  I’m now on my 15th job since I got out of college.  What relation any of them has to a couple of bachelor’s degrees in psychology and anthropology, I couldn’t tell you.  What relation any of them that has to my current job?  Absolutely nothing. 

(Perhaps this is why I drink … and yes, I promise to get back to martinis in a moment)

My college roommate from my freshman year of college, Dawn, recently found me on Facebook.  She emailed me and told me what she’s been up to since I last saw her in 1982 … a lot happens in 28 years, doesn’t it?  (I still need to write her back, so Dawn, if you read this, I’m working on that email 🙂 )  What surprised me is how similar the tone of her email was to my own feelings about my life since college.  Except it sounds as though Dawn has been a lot more focused than I have.  I started college as an aerospace engineering major and by the time I finished, I only wanted to be done with it.  And regrettably, that mindset has stayed with me ever since then – or maybe that’s always been the way I am.  How I have always envied anyone who knew what they wanted to do,  at some point in life, and pursued it, stuck with it, accomplished it, and now lives it.  Whether it be doctor, lawyer, welder, carpenter, teacher, or bartender.  Me?  Feels like all I’ve ever done is try to find a job.  And longed for the inspiration or the focus to want to do more. 

And in the meantime, I mix martinis. 

Sue and I often joke that we share one brain cell.  We’ve been best friends since 1984, usually finish each other’s sentences or come up with the same thought at the same time.  So I wasn’t too surprised when I went to mix up the Valencia Martini, and one of my first thoughts was to call Sue and ask her if she had the amontillado sherry or if I did.  I knew one of us had it and the other had the fino sherry.  Mind you, Sue would not have found this question strange in the least.  I knew I’d had a previous martini with sherry that I actually liked (Eat My Martini – I had to search for it), so I knew I had some in the kitchen, trouble was, I couldn’t remember where.  I just reorganized my liquor cupboard and my pantry and moved a bunch of bottles around, and could not picture seeing a bottle of sherry anywhere.   Granted, I have a total of some 75 bottles of alcohol and mixers scattered through my cupboard, pantry, fridge, and freezer, so it isn’t exactly a quick search.  After shaking my head and wondering where in the hell I’d put the sherry and which one I actually had, I remembered that the sherry needed to be refrigerated after opening … ahhhh.  That bottle lying on its side that I kept thinking was a bottle of wine I’d stuck in there to chill?  Viola!  Amontillado sherry!

The Valencia is 6 parts gin, 2 parts amontillado sherry, with an olive garnish.  Nice and simple – similar to the Eat My Martini (6 parts vodka, 1 part sherry). I think I liked the latter better.  The 1:3 ratio of sherry to gin was probably a little more sherry than I liked in this cocktail.  1:6 was just right with the vodka.  I’ll give the Valencia a good 3.5 stars for making the effort, but if you mix it up yourself, cut back on the sherry a bit.

I think I’ve had a few tequila-based martinis thus far, and they just don’t work for me.  Tequila is best consumed straight or in a margarita.  I know there are tequila fanatics out there who would vehemently disagree with me (or maybe not … I think the true tequila lovers prefer their tequilas as unblemished as possible, in a shot glass), and I don’t claim to be any expert.  On tequila, vodka, gin, or anything else!  The Tequini is 6 parts silver tequila, 1 part dry vermouth, 1 dash orange bitters, and a lemon twist for garnish, rubbed over the rim of the glass first. 

Alas, this tastes like it wants to be a margarita.  Probably the orange bitters that do it.  I just have Jose Cuervo Silver tequila, nothing really fancy in that regard.  If it were up to me, I’d prefer to have a bottle of Don Julio Anejo on hand.  For about 8 or 9 times the cost of the Cuervo Silver, of course.  And if I did, I wouldn’t waste it mixing it with anything other than the inside of a well-chilled shot glass.  But back to the Tequini – a martini, it isn’t.  A margarita-wanna-be, yes.  Give me some salt and a lime and we’re in business.  I’ll give it 3 stars because it is still a good drink.  Just not a martini.



~ by rachelroust on February 9, 2010.

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