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I call it, The Mano a Mano Martini.or The Mano-tini for Short. I am a curios fellow in that when I become interested in something, I dig or dig into the details. Perhaps this in part due to my training in journalism in that the very first paragraph should contain— WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW. It is my intention to fulfill this by paragraph’s end. I am a gregarious fellow in that I like to share my discoveries with others (YOU)! I would like to think that even if you do not drink alcohol or like martinis, you might find the following interesting and maybe even humorous, for your time spent here. This perhaps ‘long in the tooth’ piece will conclude for you that do like martinis, would like to try one and try a new recipe for one IF, you keep reading until the end. You could, skip or scroll all the way to the bottom if you want to. 🙂
Like a bartender’s or mixologist’s list of ingredients and preparation, here, there are some parts of fact, parts of fiction and some history in our list of ingredients, for preparing this alcoholic libation.
Often ingredients are mixtures of other ingredients combined or infused in certain ways, like our word “libation,” for example. Libation has its roots in Greek and Latin and its simple definition was an offering, a liquid poured out. Well, this is certainly how we may think of it today and with this liquid being offered and it being most likely an alcoholic liquid or beverage with its effects, bringing up the ideas of ‘Happy Hour,” “getting a buzz” or “high,” it’s a drink most likely shared at least between two lovers, two friends, two people or two associates, for a good time, to celebrate or just for a happy time among people, even if the two are the bartender and the bar-sitter. 🙂
That’s great, but not so fast. Libation was originally a beverage offered to some deity (god or goddess), as a form of sacrifice, seeking favor of the gods?
OK, just suppose there were no gods or goddesses, but the root word of mythology is, myth. 🙂
Alright, maybe they were made up, but people did and may still believe in them (the gods). How easy would it be to pour out some liquid as an offering for some god or goddess and when others weren’t looking, get yourself a nice, free drink! “WOW,” so they might think, “Not only did the gods take the drinks, they must have accepted them (liked them),” especially if, the beverages constantly just seemed to disappear. 🙂
Cue the myth reel for our next word, ‘Ambrosia.’
“In the ancient Greek myths, ambrosia (pronounced am-bro-ze-yah Greek: ἀμβροσία, “immortality”) is sometimes the food or drink of the Greek gods, often depicted as conferring longevity or immortality upon whoever consumed it. It was brought to the gods in Olympus by doves. Ambrosia is sometimes depicted in ancient art as distributed by a nymph labeled with that name. In the myth of Lycurgus, an opponent to the wine god Dionysus, violence committed against Ambrosia turns her into a grapevine.”
Excerpt from Wikipedia ‘Ambrosia’
Also, at the above link, there is an image of a plate (a majolica plate), thought to have been made in 1530 by Nicola da Urbino. It’s title is, ‘The Foods of the Gods on Mount Olympus’. Oh, that sounds familiar, like the 19th Century USA invention, most of us know as, ‘Ambrosia Salad.’ Well, if this fruit, whipped topping concoction was or is the modern-day equivalent of, “Food for the gods,” what about Mead, originally a fermented beverage of honey, water and yeast some called, ‘Ambrosia’ or, “nectar of the gods?”
Forget the fact that in an area where grapes were not grown too well, but they had to have something alcoholic to drink. And forget the idea that real mead does not taste much more than like just watered down honey water. But like a bartender’s or mixologist’s special add-ins, add some folklore and a little bit of well, whad-di-yah-know’ there is something to be said about all those B vitamins that do increase as the stuff ages. Could they actually help a hangover from too much drinking the night before with drinking some more of the ‘tail of the dog that bit you?’ Supposedly, the word ‘honeymoon’ (honey + moon), came from the celebratory wedding drinking of Mead. The couple was to wed when she was close to being able to conceive. They were to wed during a lunar cycle and drink Mead for a month. WOW, how about that, a month long honeymoon, for you that may have never had one? Mead was supposed to make him more virile and the lady more fertile. Hmmm, is there something more to those B Vitamins in Mead, the ‘Nectar of the gods?’ I don’t know, but people believed it. So what’s my point? Drinking is supposed to be associated with special times and happy and high’ times. Get some gods and goddesses involved and the traditions continue. 🙂
So what? So what does this have to do with Martinis? We’re going there next? 🙂
According to all the sources I checked, a martini may in fact, be a ‘Made in America thing, what it is, but not its name. You ‘re gonna’ love this!
In 1863, an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of Martini, after its director, Alessandro Martini and the brand name may be the source of the cocktail’s name?
Then another theory is, ‘The Martini’ evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez, served sometime in the early 1860’s at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, CA. People hung out there before taking an evening ferry ride to the nearby town of Martinez. And of course, the people of Martinez say, the drink was first created by a bartender in their town? But a, “Martinez Cocktail,” was first described in Jerry Thomas’ 1887 edition, of his “Bartender’s Guide, How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks”
Are you ready for the following? 🙂
“By 1922 the Martini (the vermouth), reached its most recognizable form in which London dry gin and dry vermouth are combined at a ratio of 2:1, stirred in a mixing glass with ice cubes, with the optional addition of orange or aromatic bitters, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Over time the generally expected garnish became the drinker’s choice of a green olive or a twist of lemon peel.
A dry Martini is made with dry, white vermouth. By the Roaring Twenties, it became common to ask for them. Over the course of the century, the amount of vermouth steadily dropped. During the 1930s the ratio was 3:1, and during the 1940s the ratio was 4:1. During the latter part of the 20th century, 6:1, 8:1, 12:1, 15:1 (the “Montgomery”, after British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s supposed penchant for attacking only when in possession of great numerical superiority), or even 50:1 or 100:1 Martinis became considered the norm.
My father-in-law thought just passing the cork over the martini made it dry enough! 🙂
“A dirty Martini contains a splash of olive brine or olive juice and is typically garnished with an olive.
A perfect Martini uses equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth.”
“Some Martinis were prepared by filling a cocktail glass with gin, then rubbing a finger of vermouth along the rim. There are those who advocated the elimination of vermouth altogether. According to Noël Coward, “A perfect Martini should be made by filling a glass with gin, then waving it in the general direction of Italy,” Italy being a major producer of vermouth. Luis Buñuelused the dry Martini as part of his creative process, regularly using it to sustain “a reverie in a bar”. He offers his own recipe, involving Angostura bitters, in his memoir.”
“In 1966, the American Standards Association (ASA) released K100.1-1966, “Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis,” a tongue-in-cheek account of how to make a “standard” dry martini. The latest revision of this document, K100.1-1974, was published by American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the successor to ASA, though it is no longer an active standard.”
“There are a number of variations on the traditional Martini. The fictional spy James Bond sometimes asked for his vodka Martinis to be “shaken, not stirred,” following Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), which prescribes shaking for all its Martini recipes. The proper name for a shaken Martini is a Bradford. However, Somerset Maugham is often quoted as saying that “a Martini should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously on top of one another.”A Martini may also be served on the rocks, that is, with the ingredients poured over ice cubes and served in an Old-Fashioned glass.”
WOW, does all that not sound factious, factitious, facetious or something with a superfluity of facts?! 🙂 I suppose one could start a religion over a martini, not to mention heated arguments as to its authenticity and origin. But there is, still more.
I have long been fond of James Bond, 007, the fictional character created by Ian Fleming. There is no cocktail served up better to “Bond, James Bond,” than the ‘Vesper Martini. This was from Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale. Vesper Lynd was one of the few ‘Bond girls’ that he truly loved. She is the reason Bond’s drinks are always, “shaken not stirred.”
According to the author, the ‘Vesper’ is “strong and cold and very well made” —much like 007 himself. That’s all fine and dandy, but neither you nor I will ever get to try it!!! Its ingredients and preparation is specific with Gordon’s Gin, and vodka. The type of vodka was not specific, but the accepted gin was Gordon’s. Gordon’s Gin is thought to be the gin of gin with its strong start and finish of juniper.
But there was also, one unique ingredient that is no longer available, Kina Lillet, the aromatised wine that gives the Vesper its distinct, bitter edge. Kina Lillet was a proprietary blend of sweet wines and macerated fruits with the unique addition of quinine, its signature ingredient.
In the 1700’s, a French scientist named Charles Marie de la Condamine discovered that quinine, a compound found in cinchona bark, is an excellent treatment for malaria. Cinchona is a genus of flowering plants. It is native to the tropical Andean forests of western South America. Cinchona bark is used in powered or distilled from, of the bark of the shrub, to make quinine.
Having some remedy for mosquito-infested territories, where the British and the French Foreign Legion were expanding into, like India and Africa in the 1800’s, this was great news! But quinine is very, very bitter. What to do? Mix it with something else like today, in Tonic water or as in yester-years, Kina Lillet. These drinks were called qinquinas (kɛ̃kinas), or wines flavored with quinine. So, the idea worked successfully. The soldiers got the quinine they needed in a drink they enjoyed. It worked so well, the soldiers developed a taste for qinquinas and kept drinking them after they came home. France’s most popular one was, Kina Lillet. So popular in fact, it spread oversea to even post-prohibition America.
Oh, and if you sit at the bar too long or develop leg cramps, quinine just might help? 🙂
Gin has long been a favorite clear alcoholic drink in the United States. People even made ‘bathtub gin’ during prohibition. Vodka was not favored for a long time. It was thought to be mostly a drink of Russia and there was a time in this country where WE were on an anti-communist kick and WE the People, certainly were not about to drink vodka. A man by the name of Smirnoff (a Russian), sold his livelihood for cheap to an American and with some ‘creative’ marketing, some ginger beer, lime and special copper mugs, with Smirnoff vodka, the Moscow Mule was born in America, with Vodka made right here. 🙂
Now, some prefer their martinis to be solely based on vodka where others prefer gin. Adding vermouth or olive juice to make a dirty martini came later. But that Vesper, the Vesper used both gin and vodka and Kina Lillet.
About 1986, tastes changed and Kina Lillet fell out of favor and Lillet dropped the name Kina, along with the quinine. Today, they offer Lillet Blanc which is supposed to contain quinine, but it’s not the same. Calling this a Vesper today, is just not the same either. In Rochester, NY, there is a pub and grill named,‘The Vesper.’
The Vesper (pub and grill), have of course, what they call, The Vesper Martini. Just remember, Kina Lilliet has not been made since 1986. The Rochester pub relies on Lillet Blanc, which is labeled to contain quinine. But it’s not the same as Kina Lillet. If you scroll down the page of the website to their signature drink offerings, you will find what they call, ‘The Vesper’ and how it is made.
“A twist on the classic martini. James Bond made it famous, and if it’s good enough for 007, it’s good enough for you. You’ll feel classier immediately. Shaken, not stirred, with Zamir Vodka, Plymouth Gin, Lillet Blanc & lemon twist.”
The description according to their website at rocthevesper.com
There are two main problems with this. For one thing, missing is Gordon’s Gin. I’m not so concerned about their choice of vodka, but Lillet Blanc is NOT, the same thing as, Kina Lillet. So how could this be good enough for you, when it would NOT be good enough for 007?
The original drink was 3 parts Gordon’s gin, 1 part Vodka and ½ part of Kina Lillet, shaken (“not stirred”), with lemon peel. Despite that Lillet lists quinine on the label of its Lillet Blanc, it’s not the same and no mater what The Vesper of Rochester calls itself or its drink, it is not The Vesper Martini!
This entire post all began with my trying to discover and make for my brother-in-law Kevin, a Vesper Martini. Before continuing, this is a good spot for some back story.
I have painted a lot of houses inside and out in my past. I used a lot of oil-based or alkyd paint. To clean my brushes, I often used turpentine. Turpentine smelled like gin and gin like turpentine to me. I was danged if I was going to paint all day then drink anything that smelled like what I cleaned my brushes with! I did not like gin to put it mildly! Then in 2014, my wife and I were in Australia.
After a local fair one evening, son Jonathan and I stopped for a nightcap on the way home. He ordered a gin and tonic. I was in a curious mood and I asked if I could try it. I did and thereafter, it has become a favorite drink. Even it has certain ingredients I like. The gin is Bombay Sapphire. I like its blend of botanicals. Recently, I have once again confirmed my mother’s description of my personality which is, I have, “Champagne tastes with a beer pocketbook. “ 🙂
I have an acute sense of smell so what can I say, if I don’t like how something smells, I will not like how it tastes. I discovered Fever Tree brand of Tonic. A four pack of 12 ounce bottles can cost around $5.00. One can buy other tonics for a lot less, but to me, there is nothing better than Fever Tree tonic which has, real quinine in it!
I was never fond of vodka. To me, vodka was mostly a clear alcohol with little taste that blends well with other ingredients like fresh squeezed lime juice and simple syrup, for my beloved Vodka gimlet over ice. Believe it or not, I also use vodka in my pie dough to retard the gluten process when making pie. Maybe you can make pie? I could not. My recipe is about the same as any other, but I use half as much chilled water and replace it with chilled vodka. Science allows me to make a flaky, tasty crust every single time. The alcohol cooks out and there is no taste of vodka left behind, just delicious crust which really is, maybe 90% of what makes great pie! By the way, my taste buds have evolved. Not all vodkas are equal!!! I use and prefer Tito’s. And it’s made in the USA.
Martinis? Gin? Vodka? Some of both? Me? No way, until discovering…
…micro brewed beers (micro-breweries), are no longer a niche market. They have become the standard for excellence and quality, our tastes demand. Local wines? The same has become true. Local hard ciders are becoming hugely popular. Local distillers are producing gins and vodkas (and other spirits), which worry the big-name-brands. They should be worried! Often the locals are far superior in quality, purity and most importantly, taste, but also, they are often less expensive! Why? Put your money into the end product and less on marketing, transport overseas and hype!
These small independent breweries, wineries and distilleries may not have the volume of the big ones, but they certainly make up for it in quality and imagination and incredible innovations and taste explosions. Why in fact, the US government hold them to greater standards than the big established brands. Pretty much, you do get what you pay for from the little ones and a whole lot more!! And on the economic side, these small drink makers probably contribute greatly to the employment market. Small breweries, wineries and distilleries are everywhere nowadays, state by state. And all those that work in them that I have met, all seem to love their work where they see themselves as personally invested crafters of quality, rather than mere unknown workers of volume, for BIG-corp’s profit and bottom line. Hey, I believe there is much to be said about putting love in what you do. I believe love can actually improve the quality and taste of what is made!
We recently returned from a trip and visited two small distilleries in Tennessee. One makes a true, 100%, excellent bourbon and a gin (more about the gin later), and the other had excellent and to my surprise, both a clear whiskey not oaked (not aged in oak barrels for that distinct taste and color of traditional whiskey), and a clear Rye (also not oaked). We bought some of all mentioned. That good? Oh, YES, that good!!! Oh, and one more thing about that little distillery (maybe a few thousands of gallons made per year as opposed to the big boys that produce tens-of-thousands of gallons an hour, day after day. H Clark Distillery is the first distillery in 106 years that can accurately and legally call its product, bourbon. Not even Jack Daniels, Dickel or Pritchards can call their offerings Bourbon! To do so, certain ingredients must be used and in certain ways. They all do this. The big three mentioned have another step they use, which is an organic process, but it disqualifies them from calling their product, bourbon. H Clark Distillery in TN, only uses the standard practice and ages their bourbon in brand-new oak barrels, for the taste, smoothness and amber color of true Tennessee, 100%, pure American Made Bourbon! And they make an incredible gin to rival say, Gordon’s gin! Again, more about this later.
So, what have we seen and learned and where have we been up to this point? Taking all the best points, our libation should be poured liquids to share with one another; to celebrate life, toast each other to-the-day and share some moments together. Should these beverages include alcohol, they should be finely crafted to produce the best taste possible and should be consumed responsibly. Now to be true, to drink responsibly, would NOT include alcohol or any drug or substance which can diminish our ability to act in an emergency, in the best and fastest way possible. But if we do drink or will drink, let us do so as the old adage says, with—“All things in moderation!”
One last thing to do here before giving my recipe for the Mano a Mano-tini or in short, the Mano-tini. What is in a name or what’s in a name? For one thing, I for one, am not about to try to make a Vesper, when ALL of the exact ingredients are not used (Kina Lillet is NOT available)! And I am NOT going to try to replicate it, while using alternatives and call it a Vesper. I will not even use the words Vesper Martini. But I will do two things. First, I will make, name and claim my own drink. Secondly, I will shorten Martini to just ‘tini,’ which will still suggest the type of drink it may be listed under, in the world of bar guides and mixology.
Have you ever heard or seen the words “mano a mano?” For a long time, I thought they were Latin words. They are not, they are originally, Spanish. I and many people thought and many still do think that they mean, man to man. That’s an easy stretch when the first three letters of mano is man. Is that sexist? Could not “man” be an all-inclusive noun, to describe all men, women and children as in mankind or humanity? I think yes, yes it could. But what is its meaning?
The god of words since 1823, Meriam Webster, defines “mano a mano” as: “in direct competition or conflict especially between two people.” Please note the words “two people” as I have underscored them.
OK, I can sort of understand how these words have and are still being used today. Perhaps images of hand to hand combat come to mind? And the original meaning of these Spanish words are pretty close to that (minus the combat part). 🙂
“Mano a Mano” just means, “hand to hand.” I like that, especially when talking about making a drink by hand, making it by hand and hand-ing’ it off to another to enjoy! From the hand of the bartender to the hand of the bar-sitter, from one lover’s hand to another’s hand, from one hand of a friend or an associate (even a stranger), to another’s hand, let us celebrate life and each other!
So without further adieu, I give you, ‘The Mano a Mano- (from my hand to yours) tini! 🙂
Most of its ingredients are made in America, and fitting and proper since most likely the “tini,” began in the USA!
Mano a Mano-Tini or Mano-Tini
3 Parts H Clark Distillery Tennessee Gin (prevalent juniper notes at the start and finish)
Note: Previously, I was using Tito’s Vodka, but they have gotten “too big for the britches” in my opinion or for sure, they have priced themselves out of my pocketbook! I now use New Amsterdam Vodka. Just as good as Tito’s (that was compared to Absolute), if not better, is made and bottled in Modesto, CA USA, and is moderately priced.
1 Part New Amsterdam Vodka (made in California and comparable to Absolute and less expensive)
½ part of Lillet Blanc (French)
3-4 drops Cinchona (quinine distillate from South America)
3 parts H Clark Distillery Gin (made in Tennessee, USA)
1 part New Amsterdam vodka (made in California, USA)
1/2 part Lillet Blanc (made in France)
3-4 Drops of Quinnine Distillate (made with cinchona bark from South America)
Lime peel twist
Add gin, vodka, Lillet, and the cinchona (quinine) drops to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with lime peel (I like lime better than lemon peel, but use either to your liking.
If you use lemon peel, maybe you can call it, ‘The American 007’ and when “Bond, James Bond,” is in the USA, he will like it. 🙂 But mine is made with lime peel. I am for short just calling it, ‘The Mano-tini’
This recipe may be found (when Published) at:
The Gathering Place
Holidays & Special Occasions Entertaining
© 2013-2017 all rights reserved
For more information on my sources see the following websites, links provided below.
In closing, H. L. Mencken called the martini,
“the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet”
and E. B. White called it,
“the elixir of quietude”
P.S. Kevin loved it and asked for another. We both drank two! 🙂
By Dahni & I-Magine
©️ 2018, all rights reserved
From my Work in Progress: ‘The Gathering Place Cook Book’, under the category of: beverages
Dahni at The Gathering Place