The Martini

Martini glass cocktail glass martini household kitchen glasses clip art - ClipartixWhen General Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground, it was all about making sure the enemy wouldn’t get high on his massive supply. His plan was peach in that it knocked the old railroad town on its ass while achieving a symbolic victory for the Union; but it didn’t cancel out a return engagement.

Atlanta came back.

Like most American cities, Atlanta collected plenty of bruises in its journey to modern times. The arduous road included a transient collection of facelifts and a personality shift whose sea change spoke to the mighty strengths and curious flaws of our most imperfect union. From Sherman to Margaret Mitchell, Martin Luther King to Ray Charles, Little Richard to James Brown, Hank Aaron to Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner and Tyler Perry. The town exemplifies the struggle and its sacred worth.

On my first trip to Atlanta on business, I pinched the remnants of late afternoons into tourist trappings the likes of which included the CNN center tour, Centennial Olympic Park, Underground Atlanta, World of Coca Cola, The Varsity and Sylvia’s Soul Food. On my final day in town I woke up with a head cold from Hades that canceled my libations playlist for the evening. I would catch up with the Martini a year later, or more to the truth, it would catch up with me.

At the turn of the millennium, I had engaged in a handful of dalliances with the Martini. Each gallivant had one common denominator; it was cheap on substance. Because the reality is that not every bartender is a scientist dedicated to the craft, and I had come across a collection of short order cooks up to that point. The only thing I knew full well was that my tastes ran counter to the traditional gin version made famous by Sinatra. Old Blue Eyes’ remedy was gin with a splash of vermouth, on the rocks with a twist of lemon. My method was vodka in a straight up spill with plenty of starch (Yes, extra dry), and olives for the win.

This particular crush wasn’t the standard, so I guess it was only right that my first serious dance with the Martini happened in Atlanta, seeing as how the 404 understands full well how to turn second place into a win. And so it was Morton’s Steakhouse on Peachtree Center Ave where I gained an audience with the stuff of legend.

The provocation was patiently sublime as my senses were ministered by the rhythmic flow of a mathematical equation whose gravity was borne in the thick of a cold and moody darkness. It was proverbs meeting original sin, with three olives tucked inside its harmony for safe keeping. Each sip was an exquisitely structured lesson on how atoms become snow storms.

I was halfway across the finish line when my clams arrived, after which I grubbed like a truck driver breakfasting at the end of a long haul. I finished my lap in the pool with a smoke before ordering the second round while waiting for my New York strip. And then I began dreaming up testimonials to the religious experience as my brain achieved hula. And it was inside this hazy shade of a winter’s night that I decided what I would say to Sinatra if I met him somewhere between Jupiter and Mars.

I would apologize for having been right.



66 thoughts on “The Martini

  1. Your post makes me want to try the martini again…perhaps when Lent is over. Never really developed the taste for them when there are so many other spirited choices that I do enjoy. Ironically they all seem to be in the category of colored drinks. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When I was a child, when my dad came home I would race to the fridge in the garage and get him an Oly. I would guzzle from it before handing it over. He also occasionally had a couple of martinis instead of a couple of Olys. I guess those were the really challenging days.

    He taught me how to make martinis and I made them for him for awhile. I’m sure I was under ten at the time. But unlike with the beer, I never sampled his martini.

    His were gin with a splash of vermouth and a single green olive.

    Years later, in my 20s, I decided to try a martini to see what the big deal was. I made myself a gin martini. My god!!! That thing just stripped my insides out. Jeez!! People drink that?!?! I tried a vodka martini at some point. It was a bit smoother, but … it’s probably been 30 years since I’ve seriously considered trying another martini of any kind.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Having spent many an evening with my Tanqueray on the rocks with three olives, I adored this love letter to the magnificent Martini. I, too, would take a smoke break between waves of passion and could spend the whole night alone with my gin. Usually, there were plenty of others around the table, but my affection remained steady. You brought back a lot of memories, Pilgrim. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a Tanqueray period of time and yes it was fantastic. But as time went out, I found gin did funny things to me that weren’t actually funny. And since I always loved vodka, it was a natural pairing for me.

      Mmmm, that smoke after a first drink, or first drink and app, or second drink and meal, or after the meal? Yes. To all of them. To this day, when I’m asked what my favorite desert is, I say a smoke. Even though I’ve dropped that habit. It still keeps.

      Glad to oblige, Sheriff.


      • I puffed those bad boys for 30 years and loved every minute. The funny thing was I just stopped when it came time to quit. I also cut down on my gin intake. I don’t know if the two were related. Last summer, I had a gin fest with my daughter. I was not even tempted to smoke. I do think I’m going to take it up again in heaven. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

        • This is why we get along so well Boss. Everything you just said? I totally relate.

          Smoking was not so much a habit for me as it was enjoyment. I know smokers who actually didn’t enjoy the flavor and I never understood that. I loved it.

          And yes, smokes and drinks were an exceptional pairing that I definitely want to pick up again on the flip side!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Damn I love that.

            My first official Cuban cigar was enjoyed in London. My then wife was pregnant so I went across the street to the park in order to sip on the thing. Then I had another down at the pub the next night while enjoying a few pints as I watched a soccer match. Good as it gets.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes siree. I remember one time I was the spouse on a trip that The Producer made to Hawai’i with the winery she worked for. She came back from a meeting to find me smoking a huge Cuban with the CEO of the winery by the pool. Priceless.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Ally!

      Mmmmm. Grey Goose. That’s it right there, so good. Yanno, I have never done the twist of lemon but I see that it’s very popular and I get it.

      I enjoy partaking from time to time. Some people treat themselves to an ice cream sundae. I do a martini.


  4. B

    Mick’s best buddy Andre has ruined vodka for me forever. The vodka shots ad infinitum until well, let’s just say, I don’t care how high-end the vodka is that Iain used to bring home, after the last vodka shooter-fest? I’m good. They all taste like rubbing alcohol to me. So. No gracias. Okay, that’s not true. I’ll have it in a Bloody Caesar or a Cosmo (which is in the martini family). And maybe just maybe, I will try it in a martini again πŸ˜‰

    I’m with John. Gin all the way for me. I like Hendricks – especially their small batch special versions. Or Quebec vodkas are really interesting. Good quality, non throat-clawing stuff. And I do like the vermouth and add more than would be allowed to call it even a dry martini. And guess what? I’m good with that. I enjoy a squirt of lemon juice, too. (Lemon drop might be a tad too sweet for my tastes.)

    Your prose was delicious and delightful and may I say… martinis on Saturday?

    Excellent choice of tune, of course.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Q

      Amazing how the wrong experience can change everything for you. Which is why I’m thankful I go low and slow on my endeavors.. Once a week, and not every week the same calling card. It seems to work well for me. And the bonus is that I enjoy it that much more since, like ice cream, it’s a treat and not the every day. And since I don’t do ice cream . . .

      Yeah, the lemon drop I do enjoy. I also know not to go too much on it since yes, that sweetness gets me every time if I do. It’s funny how so many drinks are too sweet for my tastes. I really am so dry.

      Love her version. Gracie!


      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t ever remember drinking a Martini. I do remember a few Margaritas, moons ago…. the night I learned how to roll a cigarette with one hand using papers w/o glue.
    Red wine is as far as I go, and although I look forward to my next glass, it’s been a couple of months since my last.
    Nice song, Mark. It sounds like an entire bottle of wine.
    I like your Georgia talk.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Late to the party – but wow – you take writing to another level. Well done!

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a martini. My closest encounter was in Amsterdam. After an evening cruise through the canals with wine, cheese, and other snacks, we were treated to Genever/Jenever – a Dutch gin. Given that I never heard of it, I was talking to the bar maiden about it … and for some reason she treated me to a higher end one … then I had to escort the rest of our party back to the hotel. Besides being a bit out of control, they had no idea how to get there.

    Meanwhile, like Dale, love limoncello. Actually had some last night. Still have some basil-limoncello and gingercello yet to polish off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I respect that.

      At this point in my life, I partake of a particular drink (martini or bourbon and sometimes wine) once a week. Gone are the days of drinking on the regular and I’m just fine with that.

      I dig that version, glad you do too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You waxed so eloquently on this esoteric subject, I wasn’t sure you had actually written it! I do not have a very long or varied history with all the variations and combinations of alcohol. I am, however, branching out in this regard now that I often share meals, and sometimes even cocktails, with my more adventurous daughter. She also knows a lot about martinis!

    Liked by 1 person

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