One of the Portland Cocktail Week seminars I attended was Exploring the Martini with Tony Conigliaro. I was excited to learn more about the history of the martini and to hear Tony speak. I have been to his bar 69 Colebrook Row in London. He is famed for coming up with bottle-aged cocktails (which then in turn inspired Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler to age his cocktails in wood barrels).
The discussion was moderated by Plymouth and Beefeater gin ambassador Erick Castro.
Tony answered questions that had been submitted previously. Someone asked about why when drinks got warm, it tended to taste sweet. He had a technical answer for that considering he is well known as a sensory man. Basically, the taste buds that taste sweet are activated more when the substance is warm. Tony gave the example of why warm ice cream tends to taste sweeter. See this explanation.
The two martinis I tried were almost too sweet for me. The one with the slightly more golden hue was definitely on the sweet side.
Then Tony wanted us to taste rocks. Literally. I refused to. He mentioned how it was our fear of the unknown. Probably all true. Even when told the rock was washed and clean, I still was reluctant to pop it in my mouth. And no, it had nothing to do with minerality. That’s for wine tasting.
Someone asked about garnishes as we got another martini to taste. Tony mentioned less is more. Too long of a citrus peel could be distracting. No horse’s neck for Tony!
Overall, I thought it was a good talk but considering the laughter I heard on the other side for the Drinking is Fun talk with Rocky Yeh and Borys Saciuk, I wonder what I missed out on. Drinking is fun, yes? But also educational and who knew, scientific?