Oh, maaaaan, why do they do stuff like this?

I was understandably stunned several months ago when a regional purveyor of pork enthusiastically suggested that martini drinkers should begin garnishing their cocktails with (shudder!) bacon.

As any right-thinking tippler knows (even after eight or nine refreshing cocktails), the only correct way to prepare a martini is with a generous amount of gin, a microscopic quantity of dry vermouth and, perhaps, a green olive (try to get them all in the same glass, OK?).

Not too long ago, traditionalists grudgingly gave way and allowed vodka to be substituted for gin as a concession to rabid James Bond fans and a handful of surly Soviets.

And that opened the door to worldwide cocktail chaos.

Suddenly we were deluged with cute little martini recipes that included everything from sake to smoked baby oysters.

One would think that this madness would come to a quick and certain end as the cuteness wore off and proponents of designer martinis threw themselves into the ocean like so many misguided lemmings.

Who would have guessed that a little-known vodka maker from the far away Netherlands would dare to foist upon us even more unorthodox recipes for the preparation and presentation of the Great American Martini?

(Who indeed?)

And that’s where the Netherlands-based distillers of premium VOX Vodka come in, giddily driving a stake through the hearts of traditional martini consumers everywhere.

Capitalizing on the summer sipping season, the nefarious Netherlanders at VOX recently carpet-bombed the newspaper’s food editor with a series of spectacular suggestions for smoothly sophisticated summer soirees.

When the editor stalked away in righteous indignation moments after reading the missive, I managed to pick up the scattered remnants of the vodkagram. The contents left me aghast (and possibly agog…).

This is frightening stuff.

To brighten up a garden party, for example, VOX suggests we “Embrace the new ‘anything goes’ philosophy toward cocktails this summer by being imaginative and using fresh, quality ingredients to create the ultimate summertime cocktail … trade in the typical olive garnish for seasonal fruit such as star fruit, melon or strawberries and try adding new flavors.”

Fruit? FRUIT?!

And, of course, “Pass brightly colored martinis garnished with edible flowers (try rose petals or hibiscus).”

Howsabout a “Patriotini” amigos? Our so-called friends in the Netherlands recommend you start with a healthy portion of VOX Vodka, add some Chambord liqueur, a smidgen of Grenadine and a splash of orange juice. Shake well, strain into a chilled martini glass, garnish with blueberries and raspberries on flag toothpicks…

Uh-huh.

And while you’re at it, dress up as a giant pineapple and prance through the streets singing “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo.” Just don’t do it on my block, sailor, and keep your hibiscus petals to yourself.

This whole thing has gone way too far and it’s got to stop. We can’t let weird martinis happen to America.

Remember these three words: Gin, vermouth, olive.

Say ’em loud and say ’em proud.

Gin, vermouth, olive!

Thank you.

Originally published June 23, 2002

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