Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Kangaroo - or not

In vogue in some circles currently, is the moniker of Kangaroo for a drink of vodka, modified by dry vermouth and method dilution.  The supporting assumption is sometimes given that such was the original name for this drink.  It seems to have appeared in the 1950’s.  Unfortunately, the drink had already been published under the vulgar and un-inspired name of the 'Vodka Martini' in the Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe in 1946.  "Vodka Martini" seems to have been in use since about 1940.

So, "Kangaroo" is not the original name for this drink - but it still may be advantageous to adopt it as a unique, differentiating moniker.  Of course, the public at large will probably not now adopt the Kangaroo name.  They had a chance to when it was presented to them the first time in the 1950's.  But they kept right on saying "vodka Martini" - as they had been since the 1940's.

It should be noted that neither the common 'gin Martini' nor 'vodka Martini' has much to do with the original Martini Cocktail.  The so-called 'gin Martini' with an olive was presented as the 'Gibson' by Boothby in 1908.  Yes - that's an olive - not an onion.  More important to the Gibson than the garniture was its lack of bitters - as explicitly stated by Boothby.  The problem with trying to force the correct use of the Gibson and Kangaroo names is that the word "Martini" has become too seductive (with its air of faux-sophistication) to be have precise meaning among the masses - and the bars that want their money.

But, in the cloistered world of passionate mixology that is grounded in pre-prohibition tradition and not fettered by the ignorance of the customers (or the industry), we may use terms in their unique, original meaning all we want.  In fact, we should do so as much as possible.