4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Cheswick Martini

*Disclaimer – Mostly sort of true.

It all started when Kyle mailed me a martini shaker. He said it was for my birthday, which is in December, and the shaker arrived mid-February. But it was a brand new martini shaker nevertheless. “Here’s to make you a REAL writer,” he wrote in green sharpie on the makeshift cardboard packaging. Straight from Oakland, California. Only Kyle.

You see, Kyle has a special relationship with the martini. I recall a time, several months ago, when my old friend was living in a co-op house in the East Bay. He had just been fired, again, for being a stubborn loud-mouthed rock&rolla, again. He had little money, was uncertain about next month’s rent, and survived primarily off of grits and butter. He lived in a cold spare room furnished with nothing but a bed, a Beatles poster, and his pride and joy: a free craigslist roll-top desk upon which sat his coveted martini set. At the end of a long day of unemployment, with a Jaguar guitar on his lap and a spliff in his hand, Kyle would smooth-over the subtleties of modern college drop-out living with an artisan martini, made exactly to his specifications.

So, of course, Kyle mailed me a martini shaker. It was like getting a lawn bowling set from your grandpa. Sure, it looks fun, but where does one begin? I wasn’t even sure, strictly speaking, what constituted a true martini. I had heard that using vodka was a faux-pas, though I didn’t know why. I also knew it involved olives. Kyle had had the foresight to include a jar of Santa Barbara habanero-stuffed green olives – the best he had come across, according to an enclosed note. But beyond that, I was lost.

I’ve never ordered a martini. I mean, I don’t want to look like a jerk. Who drinks martinis? The last time I saw one ordered was around noon in a dim Portland bar off Burnside. The guy was in a full suit and apparently in shambles.

Had his wife left him for a Swiss parachute instructor? Had his revolutionary invention, Das Fön, finally been debunked as just another Spork pretender? Was he mortally ill?

I watched the broke-down businessman drink five martinis in silence - tipping too much, fiddling with his Blackberry, sighing - and the association has stuck ever since.

Martini’s are where once-sprightly entrepreneurs go to die. Or at least regroup. Like my good friend Kyle. The martini says, “I may have lost everything except the shirt on my back, but, goddamnitall, I’ve still got my class!”

I asked my friend Leif about the proper method in preparing the beverage. Leif knows things. He said that I’d need a bottle of gin and some vermouth. Simple enough. However, his direction to simply “rinse” the glass with one form of booze (the vermouth), discarding the remnants only to fill the glass with another (the gin) aroused a deep-rooted contempt within me.

I thought back to my college days in Humboldt. It seemed like just about everybody had a vaporizer, back then. Once one had finished smoking their high-velocity homegrown ganja, they would tap the ashen remains into a coffee can. When the can was full, they would bake a cake and get the whole block stoned.

Surely I could come to a similar arrangement with the martini. But the thought of a coffee can full of liquor was a bit too bohemian for me at the time, and besides, who’s ever heard of a vermouth cake? I soon learned that this approach produces what one calls an “extra dry” or “Gibson” martini.

My main problem with the whole thing, I suppose, circled around the empirical exactness of it all. One drop too much of either component spoils the grand alchemy of the drink, according to most. It’s a connoisseur’s cup, I quickly discovered, and that did not sit well with me.

I am a Sagittarius. Ask anybody who knows what that means and they will tell you that I’ve never read a recipe, never consulted an instruction manual, and most certainly have never, ever calculated ratios of booze in a drink. I’m a man of instinct.

The entire notion of the martini insulted the better senses in me.

So I took the next best route: utterly uninformed improvisation. I’ve always liked tequila because it gets me naked in no time. I decided, sure, swish the tequila around the glass. But don’t be a fool. Leave the juice in there. Let it do its thing. I called it the Cheswick Martini, and I thought it was a pretty clever name. It implied, like the characters in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a certain derangement which, I thought, would compliment the effects of the drink.

I threw a small party in order to showcase my pet beverage. We cooked Italian food and garnished our drinks with cayenne pickled garlic. It was awful. Still, we were high-tingled in no time and soon wandered off into the booming club district of Hillcrest. We smuggled some of the sauce in a Nalgene. Someone had the epiphany of dubbing it a Communitini.

We ended up in the Brass Rail. ‘80s night. The DJ played “Let’s Hear it for the Boys” and the shirtless bartender served dollar drinks, his steel nipple rings shimmering in the strobe light. I went out to the porch for a cigarette.

A girl in spastic red hair grabbed my cigarette and puffed on it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Like we were engaged on our way to Reno and, of course, she always takes a drag without asking. She blew a cloud of smoke in my face and went for my drink. “I’m Kiki,” she said, killing my gin and tonic.

I was quickly falling in love with her. I envisioned us robbing banks together, sharing fifths of mescal in the Nevada badlands at midnight, driving with the top down. I sensed she might pick my pocket when I wasn’t looking, and it thrilled me. We would become impromptu yacht pirates and blast “My Generation” at all times, eating ceviche with orange deep into the warm Caribbean night.

Granted, spontaneous romance was the last thing I’d expected from arguably the gayest bar in San Diego. But when Kiki (probably no one has known her true name since she was seventeen) grabbed my hand and pulled me to the dance floor I became like a puppy – submissive, obedient, excitable. She tore off my shirt and guided me to the stripper pole, where I threw my legs around her neck and spun with arched back while Michael Jackson sang about illegitimate offspring.

We laughed insanely as we stumbled down the sidewalk to her house. This is it, I thought. The woman of my dreams. When we got in the door she thrust an acoustic guitar into my hands. “Play something,” she commanded. Kiki went to the kitchen, the metaphysical scandal of her hair-do trailing behind like an auto fire. I heard her open the cupboards and crack an ice tray.

“So, love,” she said with an air of conspiracy. “How do you take your martini?”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Great local skiing could be right around the corner

Wild surf can take away sand
Next Article

Ford Madox Ford: three poems from the author of The Good Soldier

Much of his poetry is based on his experiences as a soldier during World War I

*Disclaimer – Mostly sort of true.

It all started when Kyle mailed me a martini shaker. He said it was for my birthday, which is in December, and the shaker arrived mid-February. But it was a brand new martini shaker nevertheless. “Here’s to make you a REAL writer,” he wrote in green sharpie on the makeshift cardboard packaging. Straight from Oakland, California. Only Kyle.

You see, Kyle has a special relationship with the martini. I recall a time, several months ago, when my old friend was living in a co-op house in the East Bay. He had just been fired, again, for being a stubborn loud-mouthed rock&rolla, again. He had little money, was uncertain about next month’s rent, and survived primarily off of grits and butter. He lived in a cold spare room furnished with nothing but a bed, a Beatles poster, and his pride and joy: a free craigslist roll-top desk upon which sat his coveted martini set. At the end of a long day of unemployment, with a Jaguar guitar on his lap and a spliff in his hand, Kyle would smooth-over the subtleties of modern college drop-out living with an artisan martini, made exactly to his specifications.

So, of course, Kyle mailed me a martini shaker. It was like getting a lawn bowling set from your grandpa. Sure, it looks fun, but where does one begin? I wasn’t even sure, strictly speaking, what constituted a true martini. I had heard that using vodka was a faux-pas, though I didn’t know why. I also knew it involved olives. Kyle had had the foresight to include a jar of Santa Barbara habanero-stuffed green olives – the best he had come across, according to an enclosed note. But beyond that, I was lost.

I’ve never ordered a martini. I mean, I don’t want to look like a jerk. Who drinks martinis? The last time I saw one ordered was around noon in a dim Portland bar off Burnside. The guy was in a full suit and apparently in shambles.

Had his wife left him for a Swiss parachute instructor? Had his revolutionary invention, Das Fön, finally been debunked as just another Spork pretender? Was he mortally ill?

I watched the broke-down businessman drink five martinis in silence - tipping too much, fiddling with his Blackberry, sighing - and the association has stuck ever since.

Martini’s are where once-sprightly entrepreneurs go to die. Or at least regroup. Like my good friend Kyle. The martini says, “I may have lost everything except the shirt on my back, but, goddamnitall, I’ve still got my class!”

I asked my friend Leif about the proper method in preparing the beverage. Leif knows things. He said that I’d need a bottle of gin and some vermouth. Simple enough. However, his direction to simply “rinse” the glass with one form of booze (the vermouth), discarding the remnants only to fill the glass with another (the gin) aroused a deep-rooted contempt within me.

I thought back to my college days in Humboldt. It seemed like just about everybody had a vaporizer, back then. Once one had finished smoking their high-velocity homegrown ganja, they would tap the ashen remains into a coffee can. When the can was full, they would bake a cake and get the whole block stoned.

Surely I could come to a similar arrangement with the martini. But the thought of a coffee can full of liquor was a bit too bohemian for me at the time, and besides, who’s ever heard of a vermouth cake? I soon learned that this approach produces what one calls an “extra dry” or “Gibson” martini.

My main problem with the whole thing, I suppose, circled around the empirical exactness of it all. One drop too much of either component spoils the grand alchemy of the drink, according to most. It’s a connoisseur’s cup, I quickly discovered, and that did not sit well with me.

I am a Sagittarius. Ask anybody who knows what that means and they will tell you that I’ve never read a recipe, never consulted an instruction manual, and most certainly have never, ever calculated ratios of booze in a drink. I’m a man of instinct.

The entire notion of the martini insulted the better senses in me.

So I took the next best route: utterly uninformed improvisation. I’ve always liked tequila because it gets me naked in no time. I decided, sure, swish the tequila around the glass. But don’t be a fool. Leave the juice in there. Let it do its thing. I called it the Cheswick Martini, and I thought it was a pretty clever name. It implied, like the characters in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a certain derangement which, I thought, would compliment the effects of the drink.

I threw a small party in order to showcase my pet beverage. We cooked Italian food and garnished our drinks with cayenne pickled garlic. It was awful. Still, we were high-tingled in no time and soon wandered off into the booming club district of Hillcrest. We smuggled some of the sauce in a Nalgene. Someone had the epiphany of dubbing it a Communitini.

We ended up in the Brass Rail. ‘80s night. The DJ played “Let’s Hear it for the Boys” and the shirtless bartender served dollar drinks, his steel nipple rings shimmering in the strobe light. I went out to the porch for a cigarette.

A girl in spastic red hair grabbed my cigarette and puffed on it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Like we were engaged on our way to Reno and, of course, she always takes a drag without asking. She blew a cloud of smoke in my face and went for my drink. “I’m Kiki,” she said, killing my gin and tonic.

I was quickly falling in love with her. I envisioned us robbing banks together, sharing fifths of mescal in the Nevada badlands at midnight, driving with the top down. I sensed she might pick my pocket when I wasn’t looking, and it thrilled me. We would become impromptu yacht pirates and blast “My Generation” at all times, eating ceviche with orange deep into the warm Caribbean night.

Granted, spontaneous romance was the last thing I’d expected from arguably the gayest bar in San Diego. But when Kiki (probably no one has known her true name since she was seventeen) grabbed my hand and pulled me to the dance floor I became like a puppy – submissive, obedient, excitable. She tore off my shirt and guided me to the stripper pole, where I threw my legs around her neck and spun with arched back while Michael Jackson sang about illegitimate offspring.

We laughed insanely as we stumbled down the sidewalk to her house. This is it, I thought. The woman of my dreams. When we got in the door she thrust an acoustic guitar into my hands. “Play something,” she commanded. Kiki went to the kitchen, the metaphysical scandal of her hair-do trailing behind like an auto fire. I heard her open the cupboards and crack an ice tray.

“So, love,” she said with an air of conspiracy. “How do you take your martini?”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Comments
7

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

March 12, 2010

Oh, my. SO much to love here.

That's some good stuff, Dealio.

;)

March 12, 2010

Some say you must "wave" the vermouth bottle over the shaker, to infuse its essence without compromising the drink. What drink? It's straight booze, its sole intention to get as loaded as possible as quickly as possible. I like them. But only at home.

I love to drink martinis two, at the very most three, I'm under the table four, I'm under my host

Loving your writing!!

March 12, 2010

This makes me want to go to the Brass Rail and find my own Kiki. Great post but I'm wondering... why would Leif'l Tower leave out the directions? Maybe he knows you too well, knows that you wouldn't follow them anyway. Damn Sagittarius.

March 13, 2010

Adam - as if one could predict the whereabouts of a Kiki at any given moment, but I think you would have better luck finding your neo-nihilist lover at a small gathering on the roof of an abandoned Logan Heights warehouse or maybe on the outskirts of Jacumba at a near-cult summer rave. Just maybe.

March 13, 2010

Shoot! I live in Logan Heights! Y'all is ruining the hood!

March 13, 2010

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close