Wednesday, December 19, 2012

IF I WANT A SALAD, I'LL ASK FOR ONE: (N.B.: This post was granted a No Action Letter under the Rule by ALOTT5MA Headquarters; this is not a place to discuss the politicization of the judiciary or the politicization of anything that does not threaten the health of your liver).

Judge Robert Bork died today at the age of 84. We will leave the discussion of his legal significance to any other site on the internet. For now, in memory of his long service on the bench and in academia, I present to you his letter of December 2005 to the Wall Street Journal, probably the most practical thing he ever wrote:

Eric Felten’s essay on the dry martini is itself near-perfect (“Don’t Forget the Vermouth,” Leisure & Arts, Pursuits, Dec. 10). His allusion to constitutional jurisprudence is faulty, however, since neither in law nor martinis can we know the subjective “original intent” of the Founding Fathers. As to martinis, the intent may have been to ease man’s passage through this vale of tears or, less admirably, to employ the tactic of “candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”

What counts in mixology is the “original understanding” of the martini’s essence by those who first consumed it. The essence remains unaltered but allows proportions to evolve as circumstances change. Mr. Felten’s “near-perfect martini” is the same in principle as the “original-understanding martini” and therefore its legitimate descendant. Such latter-day travesties as the chocolate martini and the raspberry martini, on the other hand, are the work of activist bartenders.

Mr. Felten lapses into heresy only once. He prefers the olive to the lemon peel because the former is a “snack.” Dropping a snack into a classic drink is like garnishing filet mignon with ketchup. The correct response when offered an olive is, “When I want a salad, I’ll ask for it.”

Robert H. Bork
The Hudson Institute

To wit, with the Christmas and New Year just ahead ahead -- and Hannukah just passed -- it's always a good occasion to discuss your favorite holiday drinking traditions. Is there a new cocktail you've discovered? A bottle of scotch you mean to try? Or, of course, if you have anything you want to add to expand the penumbra of appropriate gin concoctions, let us know in the comments.


  1. Anything to drink with dinner?
    Just a small salad, officer. ...well, two, actually.

  2. Jenn.3:27 PM

    I recently had a work trip to the Virgin Islands. (No, really. I did.) Once the work part was through, I had my first experience with a drink called a "BBC" (I've seen it referenced as either a Bailey's Banana Coconut or Bailey's Banana Colada. Under whatever name, it's tasty.) I sent my dad a recipe for it, so I'm hoping for a new holiday tradition.

  3. bill.3:45 PM

    Take some spiced apple cider, add a lesser amount of black strap rum, and heat to desired warmth (nuked for 1 minute works for me).

  4. Saray4:18 PM

    I'm currently in love with the Paper Plane:
    Ice, 3/4 ounce bourbon, 3/4 ounce Nonino Quintessentia amaro, 3/4 ounce Aperol, 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe.

    I really need to find a place to buy a coupe.

  5. Watts5:10 PM

    Not insanely expensive coupes have been a holy grail for me for the last couple of years. Good luck.

  6. Watts5:32 PM

    My discoveries for 2012: St George's gin ( The dry rye is excellent and is now my preferred gin at home. The Terroir is flavorful and interesting, but would likely be overpowering in most cocktails. Haven't tried the Botanivore yet.

    When I was in Philadelphia, I had some Scotch that was wonderful, but I'm not normally a Scotch drinker, so take that under advisement. I'm trying to hunt down the name of it - it was Scotch but sounded kind of German-ish? If anyone in Philadelphia is looking for an excuse to go to the Dandelion Pub, you could go take a picture of the whiskey list for me...

  7. Maggie5:57 PM

    OYO stone fruit and vanilla bean vodkas either on the rocks or with a splash of soda. Ohio distilled booze - celebrating my buckeye-ness through and through.

    I also expect that my family will enjoy at least one batch of Maggie Dad's Margaritas (which were highlighted on ALOTT5MA during the summer cocktail series a few years ago). Actually, probably only one batch - multiple batches usually result in someone crying and locking oneself in the bathroom.

  8. Maggie5:59 PM

    "Someone" in this comment was not intended to refer to me.

  9. The Pathetic Earthling6:08 PM

    Sounded sort of Germanish? Best guesses: Talisker? Auchentoshen? Was it very smoky? Light? I can probably pin it down.

  10. The Pathetic Earthling6:09 PM

    Excellent. Not the Banana Coconaut thing, but the trip to the USVI. I think you once told me that was within the realm of possibilities and glad you pulled that one off!

  11. bristlesage6:21 PM

    I got a full set of six at my local thrift store. I love them so much.

  12. bristlesage6:32 PM

    We drink wine, wine, and more wine at Christmas time. So much wine! SO MUCH. My liver is already cowering in fear.

    Our default cocktail at the moment is the Deshler: 2 parts rye, 1 part DuBonnet Rouge, roughly a quarter part orange liqueur (we used Cointreau for a long time, but the triple sec of your choosing is fine), 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters, twist of lemon or orange or both. Great for winter, could be easily spiced up if you want it "Christmas-y".

    For Chicagoans, or those who like reading about bars, we just hit The Violet Hour for the first time last weekend. That place is a delight.

  13. Watts7:03 PM

    A lot of my rather extensive barware/glassware collection comes from estate sales. I'm always on the lookout for coupes.

  14. Watts7:03 PM

    TPE, you're a genius! It was the Auchentoshan Three Wood.

  15. Watts7:05 PM

    Would you believe my family's holiday events are all dry? It's a shame when Baptist trumps WASP.

  16. The Pathetic Earthling7:09 PM

    I know more about scotch than I should. A lovely lowland malt, Auchentoshan!

  17. Watts7:14 PM

    One of the reviews I just read said it was reminiscent of bourbon, which is probably why I found it accessible as a non-Scotch drinker.

  18. victoria12:49 AM

    My husband's new obsession is the Ramos Gin Fizz.

  19. I'm always afraid Violet Hour is going to be more pretentious than I can imagine. Cam you get a good, BASIC martini there?

  20. bristlesage11:33 AM

    I wouldn't worry about the pretentiousness factor--we went in in jeans and sweaters, and though most of the clientele was younger and dressed more stylishly, we got not a second look and had nice chat with the bartender while he mixed, shook, and stirred. He WAS wearing suspenders and a plaid shirt, which of course could be a sign of Dude I Really Don't Want to Talk With, but nope. Very friendly, very smart about booze (of course) without any condescension.

    As far as the martini goes, I am sure you can get one. I didn't order one this time, but I will next time. I expect to be impressed.

  21. bristlesage11:33 AM

    This is so sad, and makes me think we should all chip in on a hip flask for you, if you don't already have a collection of them.

  22. bristlesage11:37 AM

    Yeah, it was a really nice find. Lots of times for dinner parties we'll have cocktails in them to start, and then they'll get washed and reused for dessert.

    I've always got my eyes out for old-school-appropriately-sized martini glasses.

  23. andrewraff2:40 PM

    Fish's Eddy is where I go for reasonably priced glasses and stemware, such as a coupe,2071.html