The Contemporary Standard (2) vs. Séverine Serizy (10)
I am sitting at the bar, sipping on my Séverine Serizy, waiting for the surrealism to kick in—waiting, also, for Edith to appear at our follow-up to last week’s martini appointment. She materializes. The barman presents to her my interpretation of The Contemporary Standard, which I call The Liquid Transmitter.
“This is The Liquid Transmitter,” I say, explaining that it relies on Old Tom, a slyly soft, slightly sweet style of gin ubiquitous in the Gilded Age, when the institutions of telephony and the martini began to emerge. (“The first martinis were made with Old Tom,” Gary Regan writes, discussing The Martinez, in The Joy of Mixology.) I float the fun fact that Old Tom once was dispensed from cat-shaped vending machines.
“It tastes like water!” Edith says. Then chummily she asks, not for the first time and not without a glimmer of expectancy, if I have prepared myself mentally for this project's “crash-and-burn phase.” I do not quite see what she means.
I am sitting at the desk, siccing coffee at my eyelids, waiting for the editrix to shoot me an email following up our most recent rendezvous, which effected the delivery of vermouth-spiked cocktail onions prepared by editorial assistant J. Bryan Lowder ("When I was boiling them, my roommate said it smelled like the cats had been sick in his room!").
Ah, here is the email!
When we spoke last night, you mentioned that you think you will “crash and burn” at some point during the remainder of the tournament. I confess that this worried me, largely because I assumed you had already gone through your crash-and-burn phase. I understand that this is a stressful project, and that I’m putting a lot of pressure on you to get to the championship already, so of course there’s going to be some psychological fallout. But can this be a carefully controlled, tightly managed crash-and-burn phase, please? Is there any chance you can defer the crashing and burning until after you finish the Sweet 16? Or, better yet, put it off till you live-blog the Final Four and Championship on Monday night?
With and on that note, lyrically Madness Martini sinks into dementia, proving narrative passé.
I am setting here a record of two (2) very fine interpretations of the Contemporary Standard, which advances to the Sweet 16:
The Liquid Transmitter
2½ ounces Hayman's Old Tom gin
½ ounce Dolin dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash grapefruit bitters
Garnish: 1 cherry, 1 broad piece of lemon peel long enough to arc across the glass at its diameter
Place the cherry at the center of the bowl of a chilled cocktail glass. Do not risk swallowing a toothpick—that's what killed Sherwood Anderson. Stir well with ice and strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Garnish and serve. Pretend that the lemon peel is a tiny little yellow telephone.
Under the Host
1¾ ounces Hayman's Old Tom gin
¾ ounce Dorothy Parker American Gin
½ ounce Dolin dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters (optional)
Garnish: lemon twist
Stir well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish and serve and note well: These martinis may be deceptive. Have two at the very most. Have three and you’re under the table.
The Contemporary Standard advances to the Sweet 16 in the South Regional.
The saxophone wails, the martini glass is drained,
and night like black swansdown settles on the city.
The Cuke (2) vs. The Martinez (10)
Q: How forgettably bland is the Cuke?
A: I don't remember.
The Martinez advances to the Sweet 16 in the Midwest Regional.
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