Sunday, September 07, 2003

The Bunuel Martini

The great Spanish, surrealist film director, Luis Bunuel was also a connoisseur of the Gin Martini, with an olive of course, being a Spaniard and all. So as a Sunday treat I thought I'd share a small excerpt from his autobiography, The Last Sigh, which is unfortunately out of print. Don Luis was a great director with a razor sharp wit, and as mentioned before in this blog (see the last part of the "About" posting), defined in some ways both the Spanish and French cinemas, not to mention Mexican film. His scathing criticism of the Catholic Church, always with biting humor and his satirical portraits of the bourgeoisie, along with the surrealist concepts and images that permeate his films define Luis Bunuel's work from his earliest silent film, "Un Chien Andalou" (made in collaboration with Salvador Dali) to his final film, "That Obscure Object of Desire".

So without further ado, the Bunuel Martini...

"To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of a martini. To be frank, given the primordial role played in my life by the dry martini, I really think I ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative powers of the Holy Ghost pierced the virgin's hymen 'like a ray of sunlight through a window - leaving it unbroken.'

"Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won't melt, since nothing's worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients - glasses, gin, and shaker - in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don't take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Shake it, then pour it out, leaving only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, shake it again, and serve.

"(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)"

-- Luis Bunuel
from My Last Sigh (1983)
Translation copyright 1983 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

You can also see the Bunuel Martini mixed in his "The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie"


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