Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shrinking the Martini

Back in the days when I was spending my disposable income on things like vintage barware (and not, as I do today, on instantly obsolete youth sporting goods) I bought a set of four mid-century-or-so Martini glasses. They might be the most gorgeous things I own: Somewhere between a coupe and a straight flared Martini glass, they’re nicely balanced and tiny, with decorative six-pointed stars etched into the glass. They hold about three ounces, with just enough room left over for olives or onions. (We like our Gibsons here at Catapult world headquarters.) As fond as I’ve always been of my glasses, I sometimes worry that pouring such a small drink might mark me as a lightweight--or worse, as less than generous. In a lot of taverns, you’ll get your Martini in a ten- or twenty-ounce glass that could double as a fishbowl. But I’ve always liked the idea of a sharp little cocktail that doesn’t take half the night to drink. And, yes, the Gibson that Cary Grant orders in “North by Northwest” comes in a glass more like mine than the modern Supersize models. So, there.

Now comes yet more vindication, in the form of this piece by Wayne Curtis in The Atlantic about the “small-cocktail revival.” Martinis, he points out, should stay chilled from beginning to end, but that’s a hard trick to pull off if your glass is so deep that it takes forever to touch bottom. So Curtis applauds a few smart cocktail lounges that are pouring smaller, chillier, better drinks.

Curtis: “Cocktails should be like tapas: intense hits of complex, well-balanced flavors in small portions that leave one wanting more.”

For the record, I also own a few king-size Martini glasses—but we mostly serve dessert in them. Godzilla-sized desserts I have no problem with.

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