a tale of two (okay, three) martinis

On a lazy grey Sunday afternoon at the cocktail hour, I invite my friend Raquel to test drive my new Nick and Nora cocktail glasses. Martinis are Raquel’s favorite cocktail. She was skeptical about the glasses at first (before they were filled). Then she seemed to warm up to them. We decided to concoct a variety of martinis. I like vermouth. Raquel does not. She does that wash of vermouth over the glass thing and that is it. We did not follow James Bond’s tenet and we stirred ours instead of using the cocktail shaker. I heard that stirring makes it colder and does not cloud the drink. We cracked the ice that we used for stirring because supposedly the jagged edges will create more surface of cold ice to chill the drink to the maximum. We chilled our Nick and Nora glasses with ice and seltzer because Raquel says the seltzer makes it colder.

I had some things on hand for martini enhancement. Adam’s Ranch Dirty Martini Mix that I picked up at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. It is very high quality olive brine. I also have Arthur Marc’s Queen Olives stuffed with bleu cheese made in beautiful Schoharie County, New York. I buy these at the hardware store in the charming town of Middleburgh. These olives are delicious, fat and overstuffed with very good bleu cheese.

To start, Raquel chose a vodka martini with a wash of vermouth and jalapeño stuffed olives. Raquel would not touch the bleu cheese olives because as a kid she milked goats. She hates billy goats and anything reminiscent of their smell. She liked the kick the jalapeño olives gave her martini. I like vermouth, so mine was 2 ounces gin and 1-ounce vermouth with 1-teaspoon dirty martini mix (olive brine). The three ounces fit perfectly in the Nick and Nora glasses. I had the pungent bleu cheese stuffed olives in mine.

martinis with olives and the draco malfoy martinis with pickle juice

Next, we try a drink concocted by my favorite cocktail blogger Nancy Mitchell of The Backyard Bartender. She did a very creative series of Harry Potter inspired cocktails. We decided to make the Draco Malfoy, a martini made with pickle juice. Nancy says it is just like Draco “smooth, sleek and just a little bit nasty”. We used pickle juice from The Pickle Guys on the Lower Eastside. They will sell you a couple of scoopfuls of prime pickle juice straight out of the barrel for two bucks.

The Draco Malfoy Martini from the Backyard Bartender

2oz Gin (or Vodka if you prefer)
½ oz. dry vermouth
½ oz. pickle juice

Stir or (shake) all ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled (Nick and Nora) cocktail glass. Divine.

the quest for the nick and nora cocktail glass

I started really disliking the triangular cocktail glass (best known as a martini glass) ever since I went to the Pegu Club in Soho and had a perfect martini in a Nick and Nora cocktail glass. The martini glass is impratical, your drink sloshes with the slightest movement. People crane their heads and hover as they approach the cocktail. They pucker their lips over the glass in a hopeless attempt to avoid the spill – it’s not an attractive look. These glasses are big, so what is supposed to be a super chilled cocktail loses its iciness too quickly. People sip it much too fast so as to savor the cold before its gone. At the Pegu Club they serve your martini in a Nick and Nora glass, which is shaped like a dainty cup with a stem. They put some of your martini in it and some of it is left inside a small carafe which is placed before you inside of a bowl of crushed ice. Elegante.

Nick and Nora Charles were the protagonists of a film series based on the novel The Thin Man starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. A sophisticated married couple, they had a lot of cocktails while being wittty and solving murders. They used the perfect martini glasses. They are known as the Nick and Nora cocktail glass.

While I was looking for the Nick and Nora glasses, I discovered that a lot of people were on the same quest. There is a whole thread about it at Chowhound. Blogger Wordsmithing Pantagruel reported going to the Pegu Club and grilling a bartender for the source. I followed a lead to a wine store on the Upper Westside, but was told they only had three left. Then success, thanks to Wordsmithing Pantagruel. Tabletop Style has them in their Minners Classic Cocktail Collection for a little over six bucks each. They arrived quickly and are now waiting to be filled.