‘tis Friday and tonight it means exactly what it used to mean

by Lorin Michel Friday, September 19, 2014 10:49 PM

Once upon a time, we would partake in a weekly ritual. After a long and often stressful, strenuous, and arduous week, we would gather with our bestest friends to commiserate. The commiseration usually only lasted a few minutes before laughter and story telling took over, washing away the previous days and leaving in their wake the clarity that is friendship. Along with the laughter, and probably what helped to facilitate the laughter, was Grey Goose.

Kevin has become known in certain circles as the master mixologist. He shakes a mean vodka martini. Ice cold, just enough vermouth as to hint at its inclusion but never so much that it can actually be tasted. Depending on who wants what, some martinis are vodka of the aforementioned Grey Goose variety, and olives. Some are gin, the original martini, which is what Diane prefers especially if it’s Bombay Sapphire. Sometimes martinis are dirty, which is a little extra olive juice to go with the olives. Sometimes martinis have a twist of lemon. That’s how Kevin and I like ours. Grey Goose martini, ice cold, with a twist. Roy and Bobbi, our bestest friends who are with us this weekend, like theirs dirty, with extra olives.

According to NPR, “there’s no cocktail more distinctly American than the martini. It’s strong, sophisticated and sexy. It’s everything we hope to project while ordering one.” H.L. Mencken, the satirist from Baltimore, called the martini “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”

The history of this “American invention” is kind of fuzzy, and memories of its origins were equally fuzzy, probably due to the imbibing of one or two. Some attribute the ‘tini to a miner who struck gold during the California gold rush. Said miner walked into a bar and asked for a special drink to celebrate his new fortune and the bartender concocted something special with what he had on-hand, namely fortified wine, also known as vermouth, gin and a few other goodies. The bartender called it a Martinez after the miner.

Others say that San Francisco is where the martini was truly born, right around the same time. Another claims that a New Yorker created it in 1911. Vermouth was marketed under the name Martini in Italy in 1863. But the name Martini is actually an Arab name, which maybe is why there are so many martinis consumed in Syria. But maybe that’s because the French occupied Syria from 1920 thru 1946. Which explains Grey Goose, a French vodka, but not the martini because it’s traditionally made with gin, and Grey Goose is our choice, not necessarily everyone’s. Some people prefer Kettle One, or Belvedere or just a speed rack vodka because it’s cheaper in a bar.

Then there is Bond, James Bond, who drinks martinis shaken not stirred. We assume that he drinks gin martinis because he doesn’t order a call liquor, but perhaps he drinks a vodka martini. And he’s British.

All I know is that tonight is awash in martinis and friends, good food and laughter. It’s why it was dubbed, once a long, long time ago in the land of Oak Park, Fritini. It has returned for the first time in a long time and it has brought with it all of the wonder and joyous reunion that we knew it would. Fritini is friends. I think it’s interesting that both words begin with F-R-I, as does Friday. Friday is fritini for friends. And we’re celebrating it tonight. Cheers.

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