If you follow the DBD on a regular basis, it's impossible not to know about the CGB tradition of a HH somewhere (usually in the Bay Area) and usually on a Thursday or Friday.
Mrs. Slug and I have our own Friday Happy Hour ritual, and typically it involves martinis at or shortly after 5 PM .
Martinis ready to serve (via flickr.com)
During the warmer months, and sometimes even when its not very warm, Mrs Slug and I will have Friday Happy Hour outside on the Front Porch.
Front Porch at the Slugs' (via flickr.com)
Although this is impractical when the weather is cold, wet and windy, we do enjoy being outside even when it is cool. Not so much when it's colder (below 50 deg. F) and when one can enjoy Friday HH beside a crackling fire in the Living Room, or watching the twinkling lights of San Francisco from the Dining Room.
We like gins with complex flavor profiles, which typically means gins that use more botanicals rather than fewer. It just so happens that at this point we're partial to distillers whose names begin with B: Boodles, Bombay, and Beefeater. We want to branch out a bit more and try some others (like Hendrick's, Anchor's Junipero, and 209).
We're still partial to the classic Martini recipe of gin and vermouth (very little vermouth). With regard to vermouth, the less the better but not so little that there is none. We find that a little vermouth goes a long way. Maybe we're very sensitive to the taste of vermouth and the way that it flavors a martini.
On the subject of vermouth, we prefer applying vermouth by dribbling a few drops into the shaker after pouring the gin. I've developed a deft touch in vermouth application. I've also tried a version of the in-and-out method where I pour a teaspoon of vermouth into the glass and swirl it around as high up the sides as I can and then dumping the rest. The effect on the martini doesn't seem to be worth the effort of swirling. I'd rather just add the vermouth to the gin before shaking.
Mrs. Slug and I have wondered if misting vermouth onto the surface of the shaken and poured gin would make a difference. We think it might, but haven't yet gone to the length of actually buying a spray bottle or atomizer for that purpose.
Some famous (if not apocryphal) Martini recipes:
Winston Churchill - pour gin into a glass and then bow in the direction of France (that's your quotient of vermouth).
Noel Coward - had a similar recipe as Churchill. Only instead of bowing in the direction of France, bow in the direction of Italy for one's quotient of vermouth.
Ernest Hemingway - liked to order a "Montgomery", mixed at a ratio of 15:1; the odds at which, allegedly, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery would want before going into battle. Montgomery himself was unable to smoke or drink after receiving severe internal injuries during World War I.
In the movie Teacher's Pet (1958), Clark Gable's martinis consisted of taking the wet cork from a bottle of vermouth, then running the moistened cork along the rim of the glass before filling with gin.
Lyndon B. Johnson liked the in-and-out martini: a glass filled with vermouth, then dumped out and filled with gin.
Alfred Hitchcock said that the closest he wanted to get to vermouth was to look at it from across the room.
FDR loved martinis; they were a daily ritual. His recipe was 2 parts gin, 1 part vermouth, some olive brine, a lemon twist and an olive.
Queen Elizabeth II likes Gordon's gin with 3 lemon slices. Maybe she got it from her mum, who was famously fond of gin and Dubonnet.
In the TV series M*A*S*H, Hawkeye Pierce first gives us his recipe in Chief Surgeon Who (Season 1 Episode 4), when he announces, "I'm pursuing my lifelong quest for the perfect, the absolutely driest martini to be found in this or any other world. And I think I may have hit upon the perfect formula…You pour six jiggers of gin, and you drink it while staring at a picture of Lorenzo Schwartz, the inventor of vermouth."
Continuing his quest for the perfect martini, Hawkeye asks of an Officers' Club bartender, "I’d like a dry martini, Mr. Quoc, a very dry martini. A very dry, arid, barren, dessicated, veritable dustbowl of a martini. I want a martini that could be declared a disaster area. Mix me just such a martini." (M*A*S*H Season 3 Episode 10 - There is Nothing Like a Nurse).
Shaken, Not Stirred
In Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder, villainous husband Tony Wendice (played by Ray Milland) stirs the martinis in a mixing glass as the movie fades in, and his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) can be heard saying, "Not too watery, Tony."
James Bond, has been famously known for ordering his vodka martinis shaken, not stirred. In Casino Royale, Bond is aked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred. His reply is, "Do I look like I give a damn?"
A bit of trivia: in the Ian Fleming series, Casino Royale was the first book. This explains why in the movie Bond doesn't care whether his martini is shaken or stirred, but in other titles in the series which were released earlier, Bond always order his vodka martinis "shaken, not stirred."
What's the diff you say? Shaking allows for more efficient chilling from the ice. It also can result in a sharper taste from the combination of oxygen with the aldheydes in the gin. Some folks claim that shaking "bruises" the gin. To which I say, "If you don't want your gin bruised, stir it. But my shaken gin still looks and tastes unbruised to me."
The Vesper Martini
In Casino Royale (2006), Bond asks the barman for a dry martini, but then calls him back -
The clip gives Bond's recipe for what will eventually be called the Vesper Martini: 3 measures of Gordon's, 1 of vodka, 1/2 measure of Kina Lillet, shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.
Lillet Blanc is available at BevMo, but dry vermouth can be substituted (Lillet Blanc is a bit pricey at $17.99 for 750 ml). We've been enjoying Vesper Martinis recently, but again, after trying the original recipe, we've adopted the position that less vermouth is better.
Some folks like their martini with a garnish. Bond liked his Vesper with a thin lemon peel slice (a twist), FDR liked an olive and a twist. Trapper John McIntyre (in the movie MASH), liked his with an olive. But as Hawkeye noted to Trapper John McIntyre, "We have had to make certain concessions for the war. We're only three miles from the front line."
At the Slug household, we prefer ours sans garnish. Because folks often like lemon or olives with their martinis, these choices gave rise to a familiar and oft-repeated question by cocktail waters and waitresses the world over. It sounds like "Oliver Twist?" but is, instead, asking, "an olive or twist (of lemon)?"
If your garnish was a pickled onion, then you were actually making a Gibson, not a martini per se.
And there you have it, a short essay on the martini and how the Slugs enjoy a Friday HH.
Do you have any HH traditions?