Monday, September 6, 2010

Add Some Swank And Splash To Cocktails

Swank Martini CompanyWith the crispness of fall starting to settle in the air, entertainment will begin to migrate from the backyard to indoor living rooms. And as someone who originally grew up in Seattle, we always seemed get a jump on such libations with casual gatherings better known as cocktail parties (except we never called them that).

Bar none, the best glassware is from the Swank Martini Company. My favorite glasses feature their curvaceous swerve. It also happens to be their best selling glass, retailing at $49 for four. (Libbey offers up the Libbey Swerve 4-Piece Martini Set for under $20 at Amazon). Since they both hold 6 oz., you might wonder about the difference.

For starters, Swank Martini Company is a clever company. It has a line of ecards that you can send to people you know for a reason or no reason at all. It also has some very creative kits. But more important than that, Swank glasses feel sturdier.

So does a classic martini, which is easy to make. In a shaker with filled with ice cubes, combine 1-1/2 ounces of gin with 1-1/2 teaspoons of dry vermouth, shake (never stir), and strain into a cocktail glass, garnished with an olive. Done. Almost.

Keeping Cocktail Parties Casual (And Don't Call Them That).

Swank SwerveThere have been four times in history that cocktail parties were all the rage. And all four times, someone had to ruin them with rules. The whole point of this 1920s invention was to offer a casual alternative to formal tea times and balls until prohibition pushed them into underground speakeasies.

They later resurfaced in the 1950s with formality, which the 1960s counterculture was quick to kill. In the 1980s, they resurfaced as office parties, which was a recipe for disaster. And they popped up again in the 1990s, but the whole thing seemed too desperate to be cool, which is never cool.

The better gatherings are casual, almost spontaneous, before a late dinner or after an early one. At home, all you need are some nice glasses, one or two drink recipes, and some cool new music discoveries to share with friends. If you're out, any live jazz or blues club will do, before or after dinner.

Martinis aren't the only possibility. In addition to martinis, most people I know keep just enough to serve two other drinks. Usually, they serve their personal favorite and one wild card drink with a little history. Instead of gin and tonic, for example, a gimlet, which can only be probably made with Rose's lime juice, is one example. A sidecar might be another.

Another Glass That Will Catch Your Eye.

Bormioli Rocco MuranoGiven you probably won't pour every drink into a martini glass (although margaritas look nice in the swerve glass design too), there are some other nice glasses out on the market. The Bormioli Rocco Murano rocks glasses are still among the best ($12.95 for four). They have an artistic modern flair but never caught on enough to become boring (like the Sorgente style did).

If you are not familiar with Bormioli Rocco, it is an Italian glass manufacturer founded in 1825. The reason people like them (even if they don't know why) is in the science of the tempering. They heat the glass to 700 degrees centigrade and cool it using compressed air. The result is greater impact resistance. They also make fine crystal glass and magnesium glass.

The Swank Swerve Pours A 5.7 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

The style might be offered by other companies but Swank Martini Company has a leg up on quality and attitude. Some other styles to watch out for include their two-piece chillin' set (which places a martini top on ice) or stemless wine glasses. For everything else, Bormioli Rocco makes the grade, from the plain to the occasionally inspired.

Swank Martini Company also has a Facebook page. If you're thinking about buying direct from the company, sign up for additional savings. They also add new martini recipes from time to time.
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