Cocktail Week – Day 7: The Martini


Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.

–       President Bartlet, The West Wing


There’s something about a Martini,

A tingle remarkably pleasant;

A yellow, a mellow Martini;

I wish that I had one at present.

There is something about a Martini,

Ere the dining and dancing begin,

And to tell you the truth,

It is not the vermouth-

I think that perhaps it’s the gin.

– “A Drink With Something In It,” Ogden Nash


Certainly I’ll have another one. The water of life was given to us to make us see for a while that we are more nearly men and women, more nearly kind and gentle and generous, pleasanter and stronger, than without its vision there is any evidence we are. It is the healer, the weaver of forgiveness and reconciliation, the justifier of ourselves to ourselves and one another. One more, and then with a spirit made whole again in a cleansed world, to dinner.

The Hour, by Bernard DeVoto (husband of the marvelous Avis DeVoto)


So you see, what could I possibly have to add to discourse on the martini?

At the same time, how could I possibly not write about the martini? I’ve indulged in stinky cheeses, eaten ham by the pound, been comforted with avocados and chicken soup, but nothing has offered me so much pleasure in this life as a well-made martini.

For the king of the cocktails, let’s keep things simple: chill your glasses, use good gin, make it cold.

I’ve enjoyed drinking with you all for the past (two) week(s). Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s Saturday night and I’ve got my dancing shoes on.


Saturday: The Martini



3 ou. good gin (I use Barr Hill)

½ ou. dry vermouth

Lemon peel, for garnish

1. Never has it been more important to thoroughly chill your cocktail glass than it is right now. Put it in the freezer at 5:15, and try to forget about it for the next forty-five minutes.


2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour the gin and vermouth over the ice, and stir. Keep stirring. Stir until it is very, very cold.


3. Remove the cocktail glass from the freezer and strain the martini into it. Garnish with a lemon peel.


(Dan likes his martinis like he likes his plants. To make a dirty martini, omit the vermouth and substitute olive juice. Garnish with an olive.)

Cocktail Week – Day 6: The Negroni

“Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her pack. She didn’t like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere.” 

–       E. L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler


Dan and I recently moved into a new apartment. The kitchen is everything we could want right now – no walk-in fridge or center island, but a gas stove and more cabinet space than we know what to do with. We’ve got so much cabinet space, we could put cabinets in our cabinets and still have room to stock all our pantry items.

Moving out of a studio, the sheer amount of room in this one bedroom apartment was astonishing. Dan could get up at 8 on Saturday mornings to write about mass atrocity responses and watch Saturday morning cartoons while I slept in blessed silence. I could stay up late making brownies while he finished his thesis in another room. We could watch TV in our living room, me splayed across our couch and Dan balancing on his exercise ball.

Unfortunately, as we’ve assembled one Target bookcase, then another, and another, we’ve come to realize this apartment may not be quite so spacious as we at first thought. We’ve got a serious book problem. We’ve filled three bookcases so far, and still have four boxes of books waiting to be unpacked. If that were all, I think we could manage – our house might resemble a very causal lending library, but some might find that charming. The problem is that we can’t stop. Bookstores are our catnip – any time we travel, finding the best local bookstore tops our to-do list (any good ones in Key West?).

While Dan has an ear for a finely tuned sentence, it’s the possession of knowledge that drives his bookstore shopping sprees. The pleasure I find in books isn’t half that admirable – facts always take the backseat to story in my book (the reason I prefer Josephine Tey to Agatha Christie). Finding a new series is like doing a surface dive – just as effective at blocking out the screams of the kids next to you at the beach as two feet of water would be.

One of the first books I remember falling headlong into was E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It’s tempting to call reading a novel, or baking a pie, or shaking up a cocktail, a form of escapism, but that doesn’t quite capture the essence of the pursuit. Like Claudia running to hide out in the Met, diving into a book or a recipe isn’t running away from anything at all.

Mrs. Konigsburg died at the age of 83 late last week. I don’t know her favorite cocktail – I don’t even know if she drank – but I like to imagine the two of us sharing a Negroni. A little bittersweet, it’s the perfect parting glass.


Tuesday (again): The Negroni, 2 Ways


Classic Negroni – Ingredients

1 ou Campari

1 ou Gin

1 ou Sweet Vermouth

3 ou Club Soda

1 Wedge Orange

1. Pour the Campari, gin and sweet vermouth into an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously.


2. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass, top with the club soda and garnish with the orange wedge.


Negroni Cocktail

1 ou Campari

1 ou Gin

1 ou Sweet Vermouth

Orange peel

1. Place a cocktail glass in your freezer at least 15 minutes prior to cocktail hour.


2. Pour the Campari, gin and sweet vermouth into an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously.DSC_1136

3. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the orange peel.


Cocktail Week – Day 5: The Manhattan


I would apologize for having missed the three greatest days of Cocktail Week, but I just can’t bring myself to feel too bad about it.

About a month ago, my sister was accepted into Georgetown’s School of Nursing & Health Studies. At 18, she already knows how she’s going to make her corner of the world a safer place. I’ve got a romantic vision of my time-travelling alter ego tending soldiers on the edges of Waterloo or the Somme, but let’s be honest – I turn ashen at the sight of blood. Last night I took a quarter-inch strip of skin off my pointer finger in a tragic brownie accident (for an absurd accident, there was quite a bit of blood) and had to lie down for a good ten minutes, slowly sipping a big glass of orange juice. Truly, I’d make a dismal doctor.

But Alice, she’s got it. Of course, she’s good with the science – ever since she was a little girl, just two huge blue eyes and a mess of blonde hair, she’s leaned in to science. Lincoln logs, K’nex, The Way Things Work – these puzzles were her Narnia. But more than just the skill, she’s got a genuine kindness. When she sees someone who could use her help, it would be anathema for her to turn away. I can think of few people who better encompass the ideal of cura personalis than my sister.

Dan and I spent this past weekend with my family. They’d come to town so Alice could look at Georgetown up close, as her future home instead of a place Dan and I love. Otto Porter didn’t personally request the pleasure of Allie’s company at Georgetown, but apparently the visit was satisfactory in all other regards. We are so pleased to welcome Georgetown’s newest Hoya, Alice Anne, this coming August!

So, in the midst of the celebratory sazaracs, I fell behind on cocktail week. To make up for it, here’s Dan making a Manhattan.


Friday (let’s pretend): The Manhattan 

“Learn to make a proper Manhattan and you will know how to create at least one flawless thing in this world, and the person you’re making it for will know, and respect that about you.”

David Wondrich


Ingredients – Makes 1

2 ou. Rye Whisky

1 ou. Sweet vermouth

Angostura bitters

Maraschino cherry

1. Put that cocktail glass in the freezer. Set the timer. At least 15 minutes.

2. Crack about four ice cubes with the back of a bar spoon into a cocktail shaker.

3. Pour 2 ou. Rye whisky and 1 ou. sweet vermouth over the cracked ice.


4. Shake in anywhere from 2-6 dashes of Angostura bitters into the drink. Dan says to stop when you can smell the bitters. Stir for a while, thoroughly.


5. Strain into the cold, cold glass and garnish with the cherry.