Certain drinks don't work in certain places. I have always known this but unless you change your geographic location and always drink the same thing it is often hard to tell.
Think cocktail bar vs dive and what you would order at each one. What if instead of a cocktail bar and dive it was urban and rural settings? What would you drink sitting in a highrise with a view of the city skyline? What about looking out the window of a cabin in the woods surrounded by trees and a flowing creek? Does it matter?
Lowell Edmunds writes in his book Silver Bullet: The Martini in American Civilization and again in the second edition Martini, Straight Up: The Classic American Cocktail that "the martini is urban and urbane, for example, not rural or rustic." Aside from being a city slicker I always scoffed at this. I can drink anything anywhere! Or at least I thought I could.
This weekend while I was down in Florida it was horrifically hot and humid. I mixed up my 5 pm martini and walked out on the deck. The chilled glass condensed immediately and I couldn't keep up with the rising temperature of the cocktail. I needed a long drink with ice. I dumped out my martini and made a fizzy long gin thing that suited the climate and my temporary temperament much better.
When I got back home I put this idea to the test. In my highrise apartment that overlooks the South Loop of Chicago, I whipped up a martini and enjoyed every sip before starting dinner as I have many times before. It fit. A long drink with ginger beer, lemons, bitters etc. would feel wrong here. Unless I was outside grilling on a hot day perhaps.
Have you ever had a martini at a baseball game? This year before walking over to Wrigley field I would often meet a friend of mine for martinis at the Zachary Hotel right across from the park. There they tasted great as we talked about the lineup for the Cubs. Once we took our seats in the bleachers it was yellow fizzy for us. No spirits.
The martini belongs in the city. It is a tool. It is meant to be drunk quickly. It sharpens the drinker and brings the courage to deal with the subway, pedestrians, dirty streets etc. The martini is the cigarette to the cigar. Modern. Fast. Sleek. Potent.
You can surely drink whatever you want anywhere but when paired with the surrounding environment it will always taste better.
Would you wear a sweater in the summer? Shorts at a funeral? A hat at the dinner table? Sandals ever?
This brings me to another point I will expound upon later this week: Dress for the drink.
Thanks for reading,
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