Happy Bond: Mastering Martinis

Class: Mastering Martinis

I’m hoping some of you know what a martini looks like because I only got one photo from this Lifelong Learning class. What did you expect? Our corner of the long bar was too busy conversing and enjoying ourselves as we studied martinis on a rainy Saturday afternoon. This is one case where imbibing while learning is an essential part of the deal, and my class friends and I cheerfully obliged.

First, we had to learn how to shake a shaker like bartenders do. Cody poured the vodka, vermouth, and ice into a metal shaker and crammed a lowball glass into it as the lid. He shook-shook-shook for ten seconds over his shoulder, perpendicular to the ground. Then he flipped the glass over into the shaker to be used as a strainer for the beverage. The process is mildly tricky, and you have to make sure that the glass is secure or else the liquid can fly out and splash your nice new friends.

Where’s the classic martini with vermouth and gin, you ask? Turns out that vodka has a clear lead over gin for martini orders at Kristauf’s, our classroom for the day. We could select either spirit, and I chose to try my first-ever semi-classic martini with vermouth and vodka. Then I turned the remainder into my first-ever dirty martini, which made me crave soup.

Martini menus would be really short, though, if it weren’t for bartenders’ creativity with flavorings and clever drink names. For this part of the class, we moved from elegant martini glasses to mini shot cups so we could sample in moderation. I had no problem finishing these tasty cocktails — with vodka-based beverages, I prefer the tart, sweet, and/or spicy concoctions that seem like a special treat. Drinks like this have names like “Sex in the Morning,” which is a great mid-afternoon beverage and one that I would feel totally silly ordering. Good thing this coffee-flavored treat was simply placed in front of us to enjoy.

The camaraderie for this class was my favorite part. Some folks attended as a group and others, like me, came by themselves, but the friendly and receptive vibe really struck me. I bonded with my corner-of-the-bar friends, so to them I raise a little plastic shot cup and shout, “Cheers! Y’all are the BEST!”