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November 16, 2006

Simon Says - "The Recipe"

So everyone wants the recipe for honey martinis. This is good, because:

- it's a martini, which makes it manly
- it's got honey, so it's sorta girly

It's a drink that everybody can enjoy!

Last night, Leah suggested that a photoessay would be the best way to present the recipe, and she is usually right about that sort of thing. So, follow the jump for the first creative nonfiction photojournalistic recipe presentation ever posted on agirlandaboy.com.

Step 1: Grow a mustache.

This takes a few weeks, so get started early! If you wish, you may leave a little thrushbeak under the lip--it adds to the smarminess. Honey martinis are best prepared and enjoyed while smarmy.

Step 2: Put on your red silk robe.


Tie it tight! You're in for a wild evening. Sadly, I forgot to put on my ascot, as I was feeling a bit frazzled before the sweet honey boozies hit my lips. I highly recommend that you remember your ascot. A deep goldenrod silk ascot works best, as it accents the gold thread in the robe, but other muted tones will suffice.

Step 3: Put on your fez.


Step 4: Assemble your ingredients.


Ice, martini shaker, vodka, and honey liqueur. Yup, it's honey liqueur. No actual honey in this drink. The upside is that it's easy to make. The downside is that I have to pad out this photoessay with a bunch of crap you don't want to read. Tough.

Step 5: Draw ice out of ice bucket, cube by cube, and place it into your martini shaker.

(Be sure to use the Crate and Barrel ice tongs that you got as a gift from a friend about seven years ago, even though they don't really work that well. The ice slips all over the place, and very little of it ends up in the martini shaker, but at least you can take a moment to say a silent word of thanks to the aforementioned friend, and think about how you should probably call her, because you haven't talked in ages. Usually, I just bang the blue plastic ice trays on the counter until the cubes pop out. I then take the ones that fall on the floor, and toss them cavalierly into the sink. I then pick the rest of them up off the counter with my hands and dump them into the shaker. Tongs or banging-of-tray-on-the-counter: either way, you lose a lot of ice, but hey, this is creative nonfiction, so you get to see me use the ice tongs).


Six or seven cubes should do the trick.

Step 6: Add the vodka.


(I have a few words to say about vodka here. Although I prefer Scotch over all other alcohol, I have to concede that Vodka and gin are the two "biggies" in the booze world. I feel that they have to be evaluated very differently. The quality of Gin is really a smooth spectrum. There is bad gin, medium gin, good gin, super-duper gin, and all types between. There is almost no reason to buy bad gin unless you are an alcoholic and you don't care if it tastes like lighter fluid with a touch of Pine-Sol. Every gin has its own flavor, and that flavor stands on its own, regardless of what you mix it with. As I'm sure you know, gin is best suited for a martini or for mixing with tonic water. Naturally, the flavor of the gin is paramount. There is no excuse for buying shitty gin.

Vodka, on the other hand, is a different beast. There are two kinds of vodka: good vodka, and pretty-darn-bad vodka. There is no middle rung in the vodka world--it's all Good or Crap. If you have crap vodka, you mix it with juice, or Kahlua, or some other strong flavor. It doesn't matter, you're only drinking it to get drunk and go home with some loser you meet at a bar.

That being said, you don't want a vodka martini with crap vodka--a martini forces you to taste what you are drinking, so you want the good stuff. "Good," when it comes to vodka, means "doesn't really taste like much of anything." Instead of drinking something that tastes like vodka, an expensive vodka allows you to drink something that tastes like it reminds you of vodka, but doesn't force you to notice it. Then you can get drunk and leave the bar with someone who's not such a loser. Good vodka is what you should use when making a honey martini.

I ran out of good vodka last week, but I still have the bottle. So in the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you now that I filled this bottle with water so that it looks like I'm using the good stuff. The final product that you see in the glass farther down the page is in fact cheap vodka. But the illusion works, so just go with it for now.)

The amount of vodka added should be determined by how wasted you want to get. Feel free to improvise. I use a lot.

Step 7: Put the lid on the martini shaker.


Take great care when performing this step, because you want the lid to be on nice and tight (note the look of concentration on my face here--I am taking this step very seriously). If you don't put the lid on tightly, then you will end up with a situation similar to the time my dad picked up the A-1 sauce and shook it really hard but didn't realize that the last user had placed-not-screwed the lid on after using it a few minutes before. This led my dad to teach us to always put your finger on the lid of whatever you're shaking. Unless it's the baby!

The repercussions of shaking vodka with a loose lid and shaking A-1 with a loose lid are quite different, but good habits are, by definition, good.

Remember, lid: tight.

Step 8: Shake. Get that vodka nice and cold!


(I prefer to keep my vodka and gin in the freezer. This is a personal taste. I feel that the best part about using a martini shaker is the fact that it is fun. It's noisy; it's dynamic; it's tactile. The officially stated purpose of shaking a martini is to get it cold. Some aficionados will claim that the shaking process breaks off little bits of ice into the vodka, which dilute it just the right amount, and that little bits of broken ice floating in the martini give it a special "mouth-feel." This is what is known as "bullshit." The only reason to shake a martini is for the fun of it. Keep your vodka in the freezer, so it's already cold, and don't put so much effort into the shake. It can tire you out, and you don't want to be too tired to drink that booze, now do you?

Besides, when James Bond makes his martinis, he doesn't freak out, shaking the damn thing all over the place like a spastic. He sloshes it around just enough to mix it. He "saunters" the mixer about in his personal space, if you'll pardon the misuse of the word. But you can see it, can't you? He doesn't shake it so hard that he bounces--he doesn't even look at the shaker. Rather, he gives the scantily clad lady-spy/exotic-slut that look that says "I'm going to fuck you like you've never been fucked before," and you know he means it. Look at your local bartender for contrast. They go berserk with the shaker, like it's some fucking masculinity contest. Nope, that's not the Bond way. That's why a bartender is a lousy lay, and James Bond is not.

I have to make a few asides in this aside.

1. From what I can tell, Daniel Craig will be the best Bond ever. Timothy Dalton is a close second, with those rugged-yet-dashing good looks. He was just a little too pretty. Sean Connery runs a very close third. Let the insults fly, but if you read the books, you know that this is what Bond is supposed to be.

2. Bond always drank Gin martinis in the books. Smirnoff bought product placement rights for the movies, and popular culture has never looked back. I prefer a Bond that drinks gin.

Step 9: Choose a glass.


If you were making a regular martini, then the choice would be obvious. You put it in a martini glass. However, the honey martini is a little girly, so the tall cocktail glass is perfectly acceptable. As a matter of fact, you're in a fez and red silk robe! The tall cocktail glass goes with the outfit. It's festive, and a bit cheesy. Yes, the tall glass it is.

Step 10: Rethink the glass choice.


Tonight, I am drinking alone. When you drink alone with a tall cocktail glass, you look pretty gay. I am not gay, and I certainly don't want to give anyone the impression that I am (really, I'm not gay! Just ask my pastor). The martini glass is much manlier. And besides, it goes with the fez and robe just as well as the tall cocktail glass does, and I certainly won't have to worry about my glass clashing with my outfit. Therefore, I'll go with the martini glass.

Step 11: Now that your vodka is nice and cold, pour it into the glass you have chosen.


In this case, as you can see, I've stuck with the super-manly straight-guy martini glass. Don't splash! You'd hate to mar the finish on the hand-made butler's table from New Orleans circa 1981! I think that the expensive vodka would be fine on the stained walnut finish, but you have to keep in mind, I'm out of good vodka, so I'm actually using the cheap swill from the back of the cabinet.

Step 12: Pick up the secret ingredient and point at it!


Honey liqueur! This is the potion that makes the magic work! It's called BarenJager, and it's from Germany! It has two umlauts!

My boss went to a conference in Germany a few months ago, and this tasty honey liqueur was one of my gifts she brought me. Damn this stuff is good! Usually, I just have a little in a sipping glass, and drink it a drop at a time. It tastes all boozy in the mouth, but after you swallow, your whole head tastes like honey. This stuff is the bomb, as they say in the rap community (for you old people, that means that it is very good).

My boss also brought me a tee-shirt that says "Dresden" on it, has a picture of the Dresden Cathedral, and has two different length sleeves. I didn't notice the sleeve thing until I'd already worn it about 10 times. I held it up when folding it on laundry day, and said, "Leah, did you ever notice that this shirt has two different length sleeves?" She said that yes, she had noticed, but didn't say anything because she figured I wouldn't care. Turns out she was right. I don't care.

The picture of the cathedral glows in the dark. That's so rad!

Step 13: Eye the BarenJager in a lustful way.


If you can do it like James Bond (see step 8), that's great. If you have to do it by raising your eyebrow and looking like the kind of dude that scares women by wearing a speedo and gold chains at the beach, then you gotta do what you gotta do.

Step 14: Don't forget the built in handle!


I suspect that it's for when you're so boozed up you can barely hold onto a bottle. (Have you ever been this drunk? I haven't, but I have a story. I did my study abroad in England when I was in college. There was this one student pub that we Americans went to now and again. I was there pretty rarely, but the other Yanks were there every night. I swear, the patronage at that pub alone explains the plummeting value of the dollar against the pound. Anyway, this one American girl, Wanda, had her birthday party there, and was drunker than I think I've ever seen anyone that's not in a Spring Break Daytona video. She was "two fisting" it that night--you know, one drink in each hand, like a good sorority girl. So anyway, she suddenly felt real sick, and she threw up on an old guy sitting at the bar. Right on his back. It was disgusting. The incidents of that night were such that I have ever since referred to drinking two beverages simultaneously as "Wanda-ing." Anyway, that's all for that).

Either that, or it's so you can hook it onto your belt. Either way, it's a nice touch, don't you think?

Step 15: Add the honey liqueur to the vodka.


I suppose I could measure it out, but that's no fun. Note the thick texture and the deep amber color of the BarenJager. It's like liquid gold. I could live on this stuff.

When the BarenJager hits the ice cold vodka (for those of you who are just joining us, that's the expensive vodka that you keep in the freezer), it gets all thick and swirly in the glass, and looks totally cool. The second best part of making a honey martini (surpassed only by the flavor of the honey martini) is the coolness of the swirlyness of the honey martini when you pour the liqueur into the vodka.

Step 16: Wash your hands.


The BarenJager, although it tastes like heaven, is sticky and gross, and it gets all over the bottle, and I hate having sticky hands. A quick rinse will do.

Step 17: Stir your honey martini with a tiny little individual sized martini stirrer that you got from a different friend than the one that got you the ice tongs, but is also from Crate and Barrel.


This is one of those things that are basically useless, but fun to use. I mean really, who seriously stirs a drink with one of these things? You couldn't take yourself seriously if you tried. Can you imagine inviting your boss and his wife for dinner, and pulling one of these things out to stir the drinks while you're talking about stock prices and marketing budgets? You'd be fired immediately for being a pretentious asshole.

Individual drink stirrers are ONLY to be used when you're either a) already drunk, b) wearing a fez, c) a pretentious asshole. Take your pick.

Step 18: Take great pride in your creation, and contemplate the joy of the process of getting there.


This is the third best part, after the flavor (that comes in step 19) and the swirly stuff.

Mmmm-mmm! Look at it in all of its boozy goodness! The vodka (expensive and kept in the freezer)! The BarenJager (sticky and from Dresden)! The fez (kind of hot and getting uncomfortable by this point)! The robe (that has Chinese characters on it that could say "happiness" or "I'm an idiot" for all you know since you don't speak or read Chinese)! The mustache (that your girlfriend insists will be gone soon even though it's become a member of the family, like a new pet that happens to live on your upper lip)! The martini glass (for straight dudes)! The little stirry thing (which suggests but does not confirm that you're a pretentious asshole)!

Joy, truly.

Step 19: Enjoy.



So hilarious. I am crying.

I had a dream JUST LIKE THIS once.

I'm just glad I still have my mustache... now I have to get the liqueur and I'm all set. Can I improvise with my flamingo swizzle stick at the end or will that disturb the liqueur?

I need to drown my derby sorrows.

This was awesome. Simon needs to do more of these; the photos with commentary are clearly his forte. Plus this gave me one of those 'aha' moments and I now know exactly what my fiance (who oddly enough looks a lot like Simon) needs for christmas. A fez and swizzle sticks! Thanks!

Matthew and I are reading this while eating dinner. And laughing out loud. Often. You should write more - the two of you rock :)

Oh my GOD, this is hysterical. Fucking laugh out loud hilarious. You had me at silk robe.

And I guess what you're telling me is that I can't make a honey martini at home, for there is no honey liqueur this side of the Atlantic?

Sweet, now I have two items I need for Christmas. I already have the fez, but I definitely need a red, silk robe and individual drink stirrers.

And I will be scouring the countryside looking for Bärenjäger. (Do I get bonus points because I can pronounce that correctly and do so in my own funky Colonel Klink voice in my head every time I read it?)

Hilarious and that fez rocks like no other. Can't wait to make this, sounds yummy.

I can't tell you how I was thinking you were dressed up in a Mason outfit getting ready to make some magic mormon potion up for the flock!

Love it!

Yay! My first post since officially delurking over e-mail....I laughed so incredibly hard, but I'm sitting in the library and trying to keep my laughter limited to silent convulsions, which just makes me look like I've gone absolutely daffy....thanks for that, I definitely needed it! Where did you get the fez?? Why don't more people wear fezes (is that the correct plural of fez??)??? Enjoy the martini!

Best photo essay ever.
I am so glad Leah snagged someone as equally creative and talented as she is.

1. Nice fez.

2. How could Leah not like the 'stache? It's so Magnum P.I.!

3. On page 40 of my old Signet Paperbacks copy of "Casino Royale," Bond
orders a Martini of his own invention: "Three measures of Gordon's, one of
vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's
ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel." So that's gin and
vodka, with a dash of a bitter aperitif thrown in.

4. Bartenders (the male ones, anyway) are almost universally assholes and
turn pretty much everything they can into a dick-measuring contest...mixing
a drink, pulling a beer, measuring their dicks, whatever.

What a great way to start my Friday morning! ha ha!! However, now I'm craving a martini and it's not even 8am yet. It's going to be a long day...

I really appreciate the lengths that you two will go to to amuse strangers! This post is hilarious!

Well, shit. I guess I'll never get to make a honey martini as I lack the necessary hormones to get through step one.

Damn me and my estrogen.

Hhhhahaahhaha! Ohmygod, this is classic.

The tapestry, red velvet curtains, and the hooka (my personal fave).....your place matches Simon's get-up perfectly, too.


Wow, I am absolutely exhausted after reading this post.

(wanders off to make a martini)

I think the jeans with the hole in the knee are what make this post so perfect.

By the way, I will not object to the previous commenter's assertion that most male bartenders are assholes. I will, however, state for the record that I did once sleep with an (asshole) male bartender who was awesome in bed.

I will never be the same after seeing this. Have you thought of doing a whole book of drink instructions in this manner? You'd make millions.

a terrifically awesome post. and your bond assessment is right on. you moustache assessment, however, is dubious. :-)

Freaking hilarious. I have tears running down my cheeks. Bravo, Simon!

i found a polish version of the honey stuff and made these at our thanksgiving. delish. mom and grandmom were toasted (which is a funny thing to see since it's so out of their characters). cheers!

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