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Saturday, 6 November 2010

Cocktail anyone? Good old Harry

So, what is it about cocktails all of a sudden? In fact, they've been with us for possibly 200 years, depending on who you talk to, and the king, Harry Craddock, brought the confection to perfection in the 30s, the most stylish of eras – that's art deco, to you.
Yet try buying a decent one in some burgs.  In the (supposed) cocktail bar at one of the most fashionable hotels in Glasgow's west end recently (I'd better not mention its name, yet it wasn't too far from Hughenden rugby club) I asked for a bone-dry martini with three olives (the required amount). The waiter – nice chap in other departments, hopefully – delivered a tumbler ( a TUMBLER!!!) containing urine-coloured liquid plus the required three olives on a stick. On asking: "Excuse me, what is this exactly?" he informed me that he had delivered a Dry Martini – as in Dry Martini, the vermouth that comes straight from the thin green bottle. The chap was young (is that an excuse?) so let's not take him to task. Perhaps the Dry Martini, given its content should in fact be dubbed – The Gin.
More on this later. And how better they do things in a spot formerly loved by Glaswegians and visitors alike.
Meanwhile, have a look at the accompanying pihotograph and reason why a cocktail is such a civilising accomplishment. Pictured is a Dry (very) Martini with three pimento-stuffed olives plus suitable nibbles: blinis with soured cream and keta (salmon) caviar. Not as good as oscietra or beluga but a damned sight cheaper and delicious with it.

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