Driving in my car this week, the song Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins came on the radio. I turned up the volume, sang along and was transported back to grade 9, when I spent some time outside of Bristol, England, and kissed a boy named Tim. Music transcends time. The Dixie Chicks` The Long Way Around is my life's theme song, and David Gray's entire White Ladder album will forever depress me. No need to get into why. It was a nasty couple of years...
But it’s not just music. For the last year or so, I’ve come to develop a strong affinity, no, love, for the vodka martini. Take an ice-chilled proper martini glass, 3 oz vodka, a teensy drip of vermouth, shake, straight up, twist. Why did it take me so long to discover the beauty of this combination? I’ve renamed it A Personality because sometimes I need one to get one.
I don’t drink a whole lot of beer anymore, but when I was skiing 40+ days a year, I sure did. The smell of a cold beer – even more than the taste – takes me back to long days on the mountain and the patios of Whistler. Those were the days when I’d actually get to the hill first thing in the morning! Some of those aprés sessions lasted ’til the wee hours.
Beer also reminds me of my dad. Not because he drank that much of it, but because he always drank his one OV out of the same glass, sitting in the same chair. And one day he gave me a sip. It was my first taste of booze. These days my beer recommendation is Sleeman’s Honey Brown Ale.
I went through a margarita phase, and while I still love tequila, it reminds me of some raging hangovers. Tequila makes me way more drunk than any other form of alcohol, which is why I avoid it unless I’m in a safe place. Or I have a helmet. Don Julio over ice is the way to go if you plan to travel down this path. And a margarita only if it’s being prepared by an expert with fresh juice. The added sugar in those mixes will not help your head tomorrow.
At university, our cocktail of choice was to combine orange-flavoured California Coolers with vodka. Dumb. The smell of orange pop still makes me want to hurl, and it’s no wonder it took me this long to find my way back to vodka.
But coolers do remind me of my group of girlfriends back then. We used to dress up as cats for Halloween every year – it was easy and always got us asked to dance. We’d drink a few of those cooler combo drinks before heading to the dance. Thinking about it now still makes me laugh. I think California Cooler went out of business, but it’s easy to make your own: combine a light white wine (pinot grigio) with carbonated water and the soda flavour of your choice. The good news is there are lots of interesting soda flavours available these days so you’re no longer limited to something like Orange Crush.
And then of course there’s the chardonnay. I don’t want to say I’ve been “addicted” to it since meeting Kristina in 1994, because that’s not a good word to use in association with alcohol if you don’t want people sending you pamphlets for places you can go to deal with that. But chardonnay, notably those from California, has been the A&K elixir of choice.
And when we’re feeling rich? It’s got to be a Montrachet. When she and I are in different parts of the world and I sit down somewhere nice, with a cold glass of chardonnay, I think of her and wish she was there to share a laugh. Kristina and I have consumed some fine chardonnay at spots the world over. Her favourite pastime is to judge to length of the pour of whatever establishment we’re at.
And now, it’s Friday and martini hour is in sight. Many people prefer over-priced vodka, but for me it’s Ketel One. But I don’t notice a significant difference in flavour from one brand to the next – which is I why I don’t order Grey Goose ($$$).
If I decide to move on to something different next week I will always remember that I discovered my new favourite cocktail around the time I adopted Lola the dog, and the never-ending dog walks that ensued. That, and the new Mumford & Sons album, which I never seem to tire of.
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Photos: The Weekend in May martini by bar manager Keith Trusler at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar in Vancouver.