The NC Double Shot: E-lit Eight
June 14, 2011
I had a whole "My First Martini" story all ready to go when I finally covered it, but then lazy-Sunday Mimosa had to go and step all over it with its inherent brunchiness and Vitamin C benefits. Fight off a cold while getting tipsy over your eggs Benedict -- oooh, how beneficial!

Whatever, here goes: I spit out my first martini in Boston after my first interview for an editorial assistant position at Houghton-Mifflin. Feeling hubristically confident that the job was indeed mine, Dr. Mathra and I betook ourselves to The Hill -- a swanked-up sports pub on the edge of my Beacon Hill neighborhood -- to bear witness to my entrance into Martinihood. You see, to me, Martinis were terribly literary. I firmly believed all book editors had the wettest of dry martini lunches, and since I was teetering on the edge of joining the underpaid ranks of editors on the bottom-most rung, I made up my mind that I was going to learn how to drink the cocktail I had so romanticized. (Meanwhile, it was the first of -- COUNT 'EM! -- 16 interviews for EA positions at Houghton-Mifflin.)

I was no cocktail virgin, mind you, but my previous tippling experience had included Brandy Alexanders, Sidecars, Between the Sheets, and a few other concoctions that the genius bartender shook up at The Maypole in Cambridge, England. Basically, all the cocktails I loved, while still on the classic, Auntie Mame side, were highly charged with various flavors that usually had the effect of overpowering the alcohol. I mean, who wants to taste the actual alcohol right?

Movies had taught me to order my Martini "very dry," but they didn't teach me to request a specific gin. (Not that I would have known what to ask for, like, at all.) I took a sip. It was Windex awful, and swallowing was SO not going to happen. Turning away from the bar, I tried to be sly as I dribbled my "very dry" sip into an empty glass. Let me tell you, there is no "being sly" when you are spitting out a drink in an empty bar. I ended up dumping the rest of my Martini in the glass of ice water which Mathra then finished while I got a beer. I swore off martinis then and there and made peace with the fact that no matter how many times I watched Nick and Nora Charles stirring up pitchers of them.

Years later, I did fall in love with the Martini and it was San Francisco's own Gin 209 that convinced me.

Okay, so I didn't say my Martini story was a great story. I said it was A story. I mean, it's not like Bunting's Lez-mon Drop experience, but it's still a thing that did happen.

Here are your match-ups, so read on and then go vote at Tomato Nation.

5 Cape Cod vs. 6 Bellini. I'm not excited by this matchup and I don't order either of them on a regular basis. I mean, if I see Bellini on a brunch menu, I'm more likely to choose it over the other brunch-tails, but still...for me, the only thing that keeps Bellini from being completely "meh" is the Champagne factor. Champagne has effect of dressing up even the most prosaic ingredients and making them festive and exciting. (One day, Bunting and I should tell you about how we tried to mix maple syrup and Champagne to make a Maple-tini.) (It was very ill-advised.) (And gross. ["What a disappointment that was. We thought we were such geniuses with that idea." -- Bunting]) I'm going to flip a coin on this one. Wait, first I need to find a coin. Ever since we left the city and don't use coin laundry, coins have become rare creatures. Aaaaaand…Cape Cod gets it! Cape Cod will stomp Bellini into the bog.

9 Mimosa vs. 10 Margarita. Battle of the Ms! The Mims and the Margs! The -osas and the -ritas! The something and the something to fill in the word count since I have nothing left to say! …Mimosas are fine. As brunch-tails go, Bloodys and Bellinis are better, but Mimosas are fine. In fact, they're so fine that it's their fine-ness that will make them lose to the razzamatazzy Margarita who announces her presence in a thick, wide-mouthed glass encrusted with a sparkly ring of salt. Mimosas make you think of polite brunches where you quietly debate if you should have the fruit and yogurt plate or splurge on the Eggs Benedict with a side of Applewood-smoked bacon. Margaritas make you think of a loud ululating party in a restaurant that delivers bottomless baskets of hot chips and onion-rich salsa. And now I'm hungry. Margaritas deliver the defeat-as.

1 Gin and Tonic vs. 3 Cuba Libre / Rum and Coke. Both are easy-to-make, classic standbys with plenty of fans. I throw my lot in with gin, but the voters might feel otherwise. In fact, this one might very well come down to a drink-off. By the by, gin and Coke is not a good idea. Trust me. [Urp.]

8 Planter's Punch vs. 2 Sangria. I never expected Planter's Punch to get this far, but the E-Lit Eight is where this rum runner gets a shin splint. (Get it? Because of the running and how they hobble the runner unless proper stretching occurs? Okay, I'll stop now.) I'm so confident that Sangria will take this that I'm handing out the special Sangria recipe I got directly from the chef at Dali, the awesomest tapas bar in Cambridge, MA.

Dali's Sangria

1 gallon red wine
1/2 gallon orange juice
2 cups brandy
2 cups Triple Sec
1 cup sugar
ice and chopped fruit

Mix everything together.

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