The Golden Green Hills of Ughlandia

February 27, 2010
Ulanda Martini

March 8, 2010
Green Martini

March 11, 2010
Golden Trailer Martini

Yet another weirdly-named drink, the Ulanda Martini, this sounds like a cross between the fictitious Ubangi tribe with the giant lip plates and some one of the names of the countries of the former Soviet Union.  I still don’t know all of them.  I think they make up new ones just to screw with me everytime the Olympics come around.  I think Uzbekistan is the one I’m thinking of at the moment. 

Goddammit, I know that olive pick fell out here somewhere ...

But don’t quote me on it.  Odds are probably good that Vladimir Putin will decide to take up some new shirtless, gun-toting sport and by the time the next Winter Olympics rolls around, we’ll have a few new countries over there. 

The Ulanda is 4 parts gin, 2 parts triple sec, and 1 tablespoon Pernod.  Wisely, I cut the Pernod by half and cut back the triple sec by about a third to try and maintain consistency.  And you know what?  This is actually a decent cocktail!  I was almost shocked that it was good, given my previous Pernod (more like Per … NO!!! NO!!) experiences.  It must be the triple sec that mellows the Pernod enough to allow it to give the drink a bite without overpowering it with licorice taste (and cutting back the quantity probably helps, admittedly).  I’d give this one a 3.75 rating and will definitely try it again, especially since I have a whole bottle of Pernod to use up …

The other drink I got to try was the Green Martini, previously skipped over many moons ago in our postings because neither Sue nor I wanted to spring for a $40 bottle of chartreuse, in the event it tasted like boiled cat pee, or worse, Pernod.  However, this past Monday evening I was up at a wine tasting at the Holiday Wine Cellar in Escondido, CA, and since my friend Donna and I got there early, we scoped out the store. 

I remember the Holiday Wine Cellar fondly from my childhood – oddly enough, probably one of the few fond memories from then, and not just because I grew up to be a lush.  The place opened in 1965, when I was 2 years old.  As a small child, I was fascinated by the downstairs “cellar” area, which had this luscious red velvet carpeting, thickly padded, and a curving, wrought-iron staircase to get down there, very secretive looking, completely fascinating for a small child, naturally.  Down below was a nice selection of wines and where the store kept their premium bottles, occasionally in locked glass display cases. 

My parents lived in two homes in Escondido before they divorced, one on Aster Street, the other on Deodar Road, and yet I can recall the downstairs section of the Holiday Wine Cellar better than I can either of those homes.  Even though I maybe spent a total of 5 hours of my life in the former and a thousand times that in the latter.  Go figure.  And I remembered the way the Holiday Wine Cellar smelled, like pleasantly musty, aged oak and red wine.  Amazingly, 40 years later, it still smells the same.  The folks who work there are all friendly and apparently it’s still owned by the same owners/family, probably the reason it’s still such a cool place.  Hooray for mom-and-pop businesses, I say!  A dying breed in our ever-homogenized Wal-Mart world.  If you’re anywhere near San Diego’s inland North County area, head into Escondido and check it out.  Here’s the link:

Indy! Buy me a Cosmo, goddammit!

Since we got there early for their wine tasting at 5:30 (for $5 on Mondays, a steal), we looked around the store, and there was quite a lot to look at.  An entire (short) aisle of vodka, at least a dozen of which I’d never seen before.  Snow Queen vodka, a Jimi Hendrix vodka, Absolut Boston and Absolut Los Angeles, Square One organic, a buffalo grass vodka in a cute outer blanket wrapper (like a coat) with a zipper and fur-trimmed collar, Crystal Head (that skull one, by Dan Ackroyd) vodka, Skyy Spiced, and a couple of intriguing 100 proof vodkas (probably the last thing I need).  Think I’m putting the Crystal Head one on my wish list just for the bottle alone, although the vodka actually sounds rather tasty, too.  Thankfully I didn’t start drooling, that would have been a rather bad example. 

And then the miniatures … a full double-sided rack of them, row after row after row.  After the wine tasting, which was quite tasty, including a generous platter of cheese cubes (4 kinds), crackers, dried fruits, and chocolate covered almonds, I picked up 5 mini bottles and two kinds of vermouth – one is Vya, which I’d sampled at a party (thank you, Maya!) and had been looking for ever since, and the other is  Punt E Mes, which Sue heard was a vital ingredient for making the best Manhattans, which she loves – it is a combined sweet and bitter vermouth (not sure how that works, I’ll have her tell you once I get the stuff to her when I see her in May).  Of the minis, I opted to try Aftershock cinnamon schnapps, B&B, Yamazaki single malt Japanese whiskey (who knew?), Snow Queen vodka, and, lo and behold, chartreuse liqueur.  Which brings us to the Green Martini.

The recipe for this one is nice and simple – 6 parts gin, 1 part chartreuse, and an almond-stuffed olive, which I already have.  Not having tasted chartreuse before, at least to my knowledge, I was expecting some dreadful herbal concoction like Campari or worse yet, Jagermeister.  But at least in these proportions, this was a really nice drink, quite quaffable, to steal a line from “Sideways”.  Smooth but with a kick to it, almost a frostiness that isn’t of a minty variety, if that makes any sense.  A solid four stars for this and I will definitely try it again.  Admittedly, I only have the mini bottle, but I could probably get two more martinis out of it at the very least … I do still need to try the Emerald Martini, which is a vodka-based one with a higher proportion of chartreuse.  Will let you know how that one goes.  Only disappointment on this one is that it isn’t actually green.  Chartreuse in the bottle is, well, chartreuse in color.  Kind of a greenish-yellow.  And diluted with 6 parts of gin, the drink is overall just a pale yellowish tint.  I can live with that.  It was still tasty.

Last of all, we have the oddly named Golden Trailer Martini.  I have no idea why it is called this, as the cocktail is a reddish pink in color.  And no, this one isn’t in The Martini Book.  I could swear there is a recipe in the book calling for cinnamon schnapps, which is why I bought the mini bottle of Aftershock.  However, by the time the evening rolled around after a rather long day, during which I realized I forgot to take my antidepressant medication (Effexor XR) in the morning and by the time I got home it was too late to take it, so of course I ended up being excessively emotional and in a fog all day (yes, this really does happen, the withdrawal from this stuff can be that nasty), I could not for the life of me find the #&^%!*#(%#!! recipe in the book anywhere.  Which led me into an internet search.  Which then led me to a rather fun distraction of a website,, which I must investigate further at a later date.  You can register on this site, and create your own “cabinet” with everything that you have on hand, drink-and-mixer-wise (at least from the choices it offers) and then you can have it search their database for recipes that use the ingredient you have.  That’s a little scary.  I plugged in everything I know I have from what they had listed (which isn’t actually everything I have, some mixers or liqueurs are missing) and when I ran the search, it comes up with over 1000 recipes.  Oy.  That’s a little scary.  Make sure you’re near my house during the 2nd Coming.  I’m not likely to be one of those people hauled off to Heaven sans clothing like in those “Left Behind” books because, well, I like life here just fine the way it is, thank you.  But if you’re still around I’d be happy to mix you up a cocktail.

Which reminds me (forgive the momentary diversion) – you ever see those bumper stickers that say, “In the event of Rapture, this car will be unmanned”.  Okay, GMAFB, will you?  Admittedly, I’m not a student of Bible studies, but I kind of thought part of the whole religious thing was an aspect of being humble.  Bragging about how you think you’re so special that God or Jesus will pick YOU to come upstairs and play volleyball in the everafter hardly sounds like humble.  Personally, I like the alternate version, which is, “In the event of Rapture, can I have your car?”  Works for me.  While I’m at it, I’m raiding your liquor cabinet and taking your big screen TV, too. It’s not like you’ll need it.

Okay, now that I’ve offended all the religious folks, let’s get back to drinking.  The Golden Trailer is what came out of my search for cocktails that included Aftershock in the ingredient list, and I picked vodka as a secondary choice.  The DrinksMixer website gave me a total of 82 cocktails with vodka and cinnamon schnapps (and other things, in many cases) in them.  Out of such charming concotions as “Mother Fucked Up” (don’t even ASK me for the ingredients, you don’t want to know), “The Bathroom Floor”, “Bleeding Snatch”, “Suck Bang and Blow” and “Sweating Columbian” (who comes up with these things?  Oh, wait – drunk people, that’s who!), I settled on the Golden Trailer Martini – a simple combo of 3/4 ounce of Aftershock and 2-1/2 ounces of vodka.  I belatedly realized that my mini bottle of Aftershock had settled and the cute little sugar crystals were all clustered on (and stuck to) the bottom, but I decided I could live with that. 

Verdict?  I’d give it a 3 stars.  A decent drink, I think I would try another one that was on that list that involved Bailey’s in the mix, this was a little harsh with just the two ingredients, and fortunately there’s enough in the mini bottle to mix up another one.  It tastes as you might have guessed it would taste, kind of like a diluted cinnamon red hot candy.  Not bad at all, really, just not something I’d pick over some of my other choices, and I do think it would be well served by something with a cream based to it, such as Bailey’s.  Of course now I’ll have to go back and scan the ingredients of those oh-so-charmingly-titled cocktails to figure out which one it was!  Until next time,



~ by rachelroust on March 11, 2010.

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