The old man’s Hendrick’s martini* procedure as told to Miguelito Paniagua Salsipuedes Cienfuegos Buenaventura on this the 14th day of October, Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twelve.
*The drink described herein is only a martini in the broad, popular use of the term. Traditionally, a martini contains only gin and dry vermouth, nothing else—some purists object even to the use of olives as a garnish. Bernard DeVoto, in his brief, beautiful text The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto, argues that “nothing can be done with people who put olives in martinis, presumably because, in some desolate childhood hour someone refused them a dill pickle and so they go through life lusting for the taste of brine.” The drink described herein contains no vermouth and is garnished with lemon soaked cucumber and is therefore not a genuine martini. My apologies to the purists.
Step 1. Prepare to prepare this drink. If you find yourself in a home with a television, turn it off. Better yet, unplug the thing. Turn off your phone and computer. Reflect upon your state of mind and heart. Is your mind clear and calm? Your heart pure? If in the company of another, is this person pure of heart? If you are in the company of the one you consider your beloved, are you certain? This is not a drink to share with the object of passing infatuation. Does he know what love is? Does she love you or is she in love with her idea of what it means to be with you? If among friends, are they true? Oscar Wilde says a true friend will stab you in the front. Don’t waste this drink on a lover or friend who is less than genuine.
Music, if not something abrasive and tawdry and likely to be heard at the mall or thumping and rattling out of a car driven by an adolescent, is appropriate. It’s not at all necessary, however. If you listen to music much of the day, you should take this time to enjoy the quiet. If there are noisy, foolish people about who might intrude upon your quiet and who cannot be easily dismissed, put this off until you can be confident your peace will not be disturbed.
Open the curtains and the windows if it’s not too cold. If you find yourself in the season that allows for sun during the cocktail hour, let the late-day sun stream into the room. When the days grow shorter and you must light the room, don’t overdo it. Candlelight is good. Dim the lights if you can. Breathe.
Step 2: the materials required. You will need the following ingredients, tools, vessels. The consumables can all be procured at Trader Joes.
• Hendrick’s gin
• One organic English hothouse cucumber
• Fresh lemons
• Martini glass
• Small bowl
• Sharp knife and cutting board
• Highball glass
• Clear, fresh ice
• Love, respect, quiet
Step 3: slice the cucumber. Sharpen and clean your knife. Rinse your cucumber. Slice the cucumber diagonally and as thinly as possible. The thinner the slices, the better they absorb the lemon juice. At this point (if not already there) put your stemware in the freezer. Chilled gin. Chilled glassware.
Step 4: prepare the cucumber. Slice the lemon into quarters and squeeze lemon juice into the bowl. Use a nice bowl. The ceramic bowl pictured was made by an Idyllwild Arts Academy student back in the 1990s. Submerge thinly sliced cucumber in the juice. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes.
(now is the time to prepare hors d’oeuvres. The old man likes to pick figs from his little tree, wrap them in prosciutto, daub them with honey goat cheese, bake them for ten minutes at 400f, put them on a platter and drizzle them with balsamic glaze)
step 5: chill the gin. Some keep their gin in the freezer, some don’t. This is a topic of some serious debate. (google: chowhound gin in freezer) Many think the freezer squelches the delicate flavors of the botanicals in the gin. Others like to experience the initial viscous clarity of freezer-chilled gin and sense the re-awakening of the botanicals as the liquor warms after being poured. The freezer tribe boasts of the advantage of totally undiluted gin since no ice is required. The ice tribe believes that the small amount of water introduced by chilling with ice enhances the gin’s bouquet. Today we’re using ice; next week we may put the bottle in the freezer. OK?
So, fill a tall glass with ice. Pour about six ounces of gin in the glass. My younger, just over 21 readers may want to start with a smaller serving. Stir slowly. I like to use a ceramic chopstick, but a bar spoon is more traditional. Give it enough time to chill well but not enough time to melt the ice too much.
Step 6: garnish, pour and serve. Extract your chilled stemware from the freezer and your lemon-soaked cucumbers from the refrigerator. Carefully place three lemon-soaked slices against the slope of each chilled glass.
Strain chilled gin into glass. Swirl liquor gently across the saturated garnish. Breathe. Admire the clarity of the liquid and the refracted green shape of the cucumber slices. Review quickly the questions in step 1. Be present. Sit still. Sit. Still. Drink. Enjoy. Listen. Talk. Do not wander about with this drink in your hand like some kind of slack-jawed heathen frat boy wanker. Be aware of what is good. Recognize your need for God’s grace and be thankful for it. Amen.