Monday, June 1, 2015


Do you know how to get a good martini in Utah?  No, to be honest, neither do I. 

First thing to say, a lot of people imagine it’s impossible to get any sort of martini whatsoever in Utah, because of the Mormons.  That’s simply not true.  The liquor and licensing laws of Utah may be complicated, but they’re not so arcane as to stop you getting a drink.  The Bible reckons it’s OK.

When it comes to hard liquor however, a standard pour in bar is one and half ounces.  Now I always say a small martini (or perhaps two small martinis) is preferable to one stonking big martini.  A “classic” five ounce slug is likely to get warm and unpleasant long before you get to the bottom of it.  And a couple of five ounce slugs are likely to leave you (or anyway me) incoherent.

So a small drink, a one and a half ounce martini, is not in itself a bad thing.  But the martinis I had in Utah last month left me confused, and also left me curiously sober.  None of them (and in the end I didn’t drink all that many of them, because I stopped ordering them after a while) delivered much bang for the buck.  And the fact is, they also seemed downright watery.

And here I think may be the real problem.  The ice that got put into the cocktail shaker to make the martini always seemed to be sitting there in a tub behind the bar; small cubes, lots of melt, consequently shaking them created even more melt.  So you were essentially getting a small glass of diluted gin, which is not the point of a martini

The other problem, and this may be a more personal thing, is that one of the greatest joys of a martini is that little meniscus that forms over the rim of the full glass.  No chance of that with a standard size glass and a small pour. Really just another reason to dig out your small, antique martini glass, thus:

But I don’t mean to carp, even less to be a martini bore.  There was some fine drinking to be done in Utah, not least this favorite, the Spiral Jetty, named in honor of Robert Smithson’s piece of land art.  Apparently there’s been some kind of legal dispute between the brewers and the Dia Art Foundation which holds the copyright on the Spiral Jetty jointly with the Smithson estate, but it’s obviously been settled.

I thought it was a pretty good beer; strong (6.6%), hoppy, malty, serious, and bitter in the English beer sense of the world.  Here’s a bottle sitting on the window ledge of my hotel room in Ogden, Utah:

Ogden is a fine town, and is now forever etched in my memory as the place I ate yak tartar, at a restaurant named Hearth, on 25th Street.  It was the best yak I ever ate.  The Loved One also had yak, but hers was cooked and afterwards she wished she’d had it raw.  Indeed.  Next time.

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