“It’s early Alzheimer’s,” I whined. I’d left the duck breasts I’d planned to grill at home. I’d have to rush to the grocery and buy some more. And they’d have no time to marinate!

“Alzheimer’s jokes aren’t funny,” Dan scolded.

“Chipotle-Grapefruit Duck is no joke either.”

“You know what I mean. And it’s not funny. I know Alzheimer’s. You don’t have Alzheimer’s. So stop it.” As Director of Research at CogniTech, a pharmaceutical company that developed new Alzheimer’s treatments, Dan didn’t find fake whimpering about forgotten duck amusing. “I’ll go get more duck. You start the rest of the stuff.”

Just as Dan was leaving, Chipper burst in. He dropped his backpack on the floor and spouted off. “That train was late – again! So, I missed the 6:30 ferry and had to wait at that bar in Sayville, with their watered-down drinks, and…. Martini! Now!”

“I’ll make you one,” I offered.

“Hell no!” Chipper snapped. “Yours are lousy.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Your proportions suck.” He stripped off his sweaty T-shirt and sprinted to the liquor cabinet. I admired his moist, wide, delightful lats while resenting his stupid opinion as he reached for the Beefeater.

“They do not! I make the classic martini.” I was huffy.

“If you like a little gin with your vermouth.”

I watched Chipper in speechless rage as he grabbed the cocktail shaker, filled it with ice, poured in a full martini glass full of Beefeater, then added precisely five drops of dry vermouth and stirred wildly.

“If you want straight gin,” I said coldly, “why bother with that silly nod to tradition and just go the W. C. Fields route? I’m sure some perv in the Pines gets off on guys with gin blossoms.”

“Jag-off,” Chipper muttered as he left the room clutching his martini. Chipper had lived in New York for 20 years but reverted to Pittsburgh slang when he got mad.

I was still stewing when Dan returned with the duck and a bottle of Sancerre. He was accompanied by Paolo, who had stopped at BarHarbor, right off the dock, for – yes – a martini, the dregs of which he carried in a red plastic cup. I offered to make him a real martini in a real martini glass.
“Thanks, no,” Paola said. “I’ll make my own.”

“Why? Aren’t mine good enough for you?”

“Good that you brought that up,” he said with business school tact. “I prefer my proportions.”

“Here we go again,” I snarled, then told him about Chipper, who had shut himself inside the room he shared with Paolo.

“It’s actually quite the reverse,” Paolo explained. “You should taste the vermouth clearly. Otherwise there’s no point in adding it.” I watched in piqued fascination as Paolo made a distinctly wet martini.

“Well,” I huffed, “if you want to drink straight vermouth…” whereupon Dan swatted my behind, then shoved the paper bag full of duck breasts into my ribs. “Shut up and grill.”
This is a Classic Martini; Paolo and Chipper can write their own damn columns:
4 parts Beefeater gin
(If you want to use Absolut, fine; just don’t call it a Classic Martini.)
1 part dry vermouth
Fill shaker with ice. Pour liquors in. Just let it sit on the counter to chill – no need to shake. Stir just once, put the lid on, and strain your Classic Martini into the proper glass. Add an olive or a lemon twist; a cocktail onion turns it into a Gibson.

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