September 2005
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Day September 10, 2005

What’s the story of this cocktail recipe?

OK.  I’m hoping somebody out there knows the provenance and origins of this drink.  A gin martini, with equal parts of Grand Marnier, splash of vermouth (of course), and a twist of lemon.  A superb drink, it’s not sweet like many of the "fancy" martinis out there, so it appeals to me when I’m in the mood for something besides a classic martini (which requires a 4-5 : 1 ratio of gin to dry French vermouth, instead of this "wave the vermouth over the glass" crap.  Harrumph).

The drink in question came from numerous samplings at the Gallery Bar in the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, over the last decade.  It’s apparently a cocktail of some antiquity, maintained at the Biltmore less for its crowd-pleasing characteristics for but its historic significance, as I vaguely recall from discussions with the bartender.  I travel to Los Angeles less than I prefer nowadays, so my opportunities to pursue the story are limited.  Does anyone out there know the story of this martini variant? 

Rocket Building Continues

The building of rockets for our group’s September launch continues; I seem to be rubbing stuck-on epoxy off my fingers most of the time now.  For those who care, I wrote about the details on our group’s blog, RocketGeeks.Dsc00547

On the domestic front, this activity has accomplished something that 5 years of living in my house had not — organizing my basement workshop.  I’d never really had much use for most of the space in my basement, since I’m not exactly home improvement guy, but the workshop is coming along nicely.  The plug strip in the upper right corner is a terrible thing, but my defense is that I inherited it from the previous owners, and oddly enough the sink shown in the corner (center of the photo) drains nowhere.  The pipes head off into the right of the photo, but stop at a wall.  Gravity, or engineering skill, apparently stymied the previous owner’s attempts to plumb the sink.  Which doesn’t bother me much — there’s a sink behind where I’m standing as well.  I am mystified by this recent bout of tool-using and project-making — it’s pretty uncharacteristic of me.  But a lot of fun.  Who knows, maybe I’ll become handy enough to actually fix things around the house.   

Autumn in Seattle

Well, autumn is finally here. The cold rain and heavy clouds this morning signal the change, but I see real confirmation out my window, as I sit here relaxing in the late afternoon sun: Husky game traffic inches slowly down Banner Way northward. It’s sunny out this afternoon, affording me a chance to walk Greenlake and get some exercise, but otherwise it’s been a lazy Saturday full of projects long-neglected over a busy summer. I’m about halfway done with Stephenson’s second volume of the Baroque Cycle, so I imagine I won’t have much to write about there until next week (these books are massive. It’s really incredible to imagine that he wrote all three longhand with various fountain pens. I can barely write a note nowadays before my hand cramps up, although my “typing tendons” are in remarkable shape).

School will be starting at the University soon, and as I do every year, I wish I were back on campus, with the smell of the books in the library and the dust of chalkboards. Perhaps someday. In the meantime, this Stephenson tome isn’t going to read itself…