I initially mentioned, before we headed off to pick olallieberries, that I had an olallie-basil martini on the brain for later this evening. Friends' responses ran the gamut from: "I'll take 3" to "sharing is caring" and "what time should I be there?"
But one friend's comment really caught my attention - "just don't call it a martini." It launched a virtual conversation that made me realize that I fallen prey to a common misconception myself...
Tacking 'tini' on the end of a word does not a martini make. Think 'chocolatini' and 'appletini' and my woefully ignorant 'olallie-tini.' Okay. So, what does make a martini? A martini is a drink made with gin and vermouth, garnished with an olive. That’s it. Some may substitute gin for vodka, and call it a 'vodka martini,' but many purists would reject this and simply call it a 'cocktail.' There are variations of the classic martini - dry, sweet, medium - but if it isn't mixed with gin, it's not a martini. Understood.
Then I delved into my copy of Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass - Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist by Natalie Bovis and grew even more confused. She writes, "Not every mixed drink is a cocktail." A Cocktail is spirit + sugar + water + bitters while a Daisy is spirit + liqueur + citrus. A Fizz is similar to a sour but with the addition of club soda and egg variations. Then there's a Smash and a Swizzle. I'm thoroughly befuddled and I haven't even had a drink yet.
I wanted to create a drink that was summery and herby. So, I can't call this a martinil and I have no idea what category this truly falls into. I will, a la E.B. White, call it an elixir of quietude. Cheers and good night!
4 olallieberries for muddling + 2 for garnish
1 basil leaf for muddling + 1 for garnish
1 part absinthe
1 part rhubarb liqueur
4 parts olallieberry simple syrup
4 parts vodka
splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 lemon wheels for garnish
In pint glass, muddle 4 olallieberries and 1 basil leaf. Add in your liquids, except for the lemon juice. Scoop in ice and top with your shaker. Shake, shake, shake, and shake some more. Strain into your serving glass and garnish with 2 lemon wheels, 2 olallieberries, and a basil leaf.