Gin and glassware

Back on the 7th, at Dan Gordon’s restaurant in Palo Alto: server explains they are out of Tanqueray gin, apologizes, offers me a taste of Junipero gin (not familiar to me, though it’s a San Francisco thing), which arrives in a glass of interesting shape, also not familiar to me. Being a linguist of inquisitive bent, I ask what that kind of glass is called. Server thinks it’s a Nick and Nora (unfamiliar to me as a glassware label, though I got the allusion and understood why the name would be used for drinkware). Bartender shouts out that, no, it’s a Glenn Caron (well, that’s what I thought he said, but I was puzzled about what the connection was between glassware and the tv writer / director / producer Glenn Gordon Caron or his most famous show, Moonlighting). Much later I discovered it was a Glencairn glass, designed for (Scotch) whisky.

Now, the replay, with more detail.

Junipero Gin. From the The Gin Is In site, about its 2018 gin awards:

(#1)

Junipero Gin recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. Anchor Brewing Company was at the forefront of the craft brewing revolution in America. Fritz MayTag thought Anchor could seize a similar opportunity in the world of spirits. Thus was born, Anchor Distilling Co.

Junipero is perhaps the first craft, copper pot distilled gin in America since prohibition. Secondly, Anchor and Junipero set the benchmark for “premium” gin pricing.

The flavor profile for Junipero (with a bit of nutmeg and a whole lot of heat):

(#2)

The Nick and Nora glass.

Oh, I said to the server, Nick and Nora, that would be Nick and Nora Charles.

Blank stare.

From the Thin Man movies, I added.

Blank stare, continued.

(The server is a sweet young guy, in his 20s. So I let him off the hook…)

They’re not just from before you were born, they’re from before I was born — from the 1930s. Nick and Nora were rich and fashionable, drank a lot, and got caught up in murder mysteries. (He is now searching for Nick and Nora on his phone.) The Thin Man movies were Depression-era escapist fantasies. Like the Busby Berkeley dance movies.  And the Astaire and Rogers movies.

Astaire and Rogers?, he asks in a bewildered way, now shifting on his phone to Fred Astaire (after I spell it for him).

Look, I say, you might or might not enjoy Powell and Loy in the Thin Man movies, not everyone does, but I think you’ll really like Astaire and Rogers. Dude (yes, I actually said that), you have to check them out. (He appears to like what he sees on his phone.)

Kids these days. The Junipero Gin, in what I still think of as its Glenn Caron tasting glass, is mighty fine.

But first, the Nick and Nora, from the Liquor.com site: “The Incredible Return of the Nick and Nora Glass”:

(#3)

Nora Charles: “I’ll be with you in two shakes of a cocktail.”
Nick Charles: “Cocktail? Cocktail? Think I’ll try one of those things.”
The Thin Man (1934)

So goes the playful banter between husband-and-wife duo Nick and Nora Charles. Played by William Powell and Myrna Loy, the gumshoe and his clever socialite wife shake and swill Martinis throughout a six-part film series that’s as equal parts whodunnit, comedy and drama as it is gin, vermouth and bitters. Starting with The Thin Man in 1934, the pictures helped launch the era of screwball comedies and sleuthing on-screen spouses. And during the current cocktail renaissance, they’ve also helped make fashionable a deeper cousin of the coupe beloved by bartenders for its elegant (and spill-proof) design, the Nick & Nora glass. [noun coupe: a shallow glass or glass dish, typically with a stem, in which desserts or champagne are served. ORIGIN French, ‘goblet’. (NOAD)]

“Before Prohibition, there were lots of different kind of glasses, including V-shaped and flat-bottomed,” says David Wondrich, a Liquor.com advisory board member, the author of Imbibe!… and the senior drinks columnist at The Daily Beast. “The standard Martini glass may be an icon, but it’s crappy to drink from; it spills and tips easily.” Enter other options, like the coupe and what eventually became known as the Nick & Nora glass, which was debuted to the masses by Audrey Saunders in 2005 when she opened her pioneering New York cocktail bar Pegu Club.

The Glencairn. From Wikipedia:

(#4)

The Glencairn whisky glass is a style of glass developed by Glencairn Crystal Ltd, Scotland for drinking whisky. Originally designed by Raymond Davidson, managing director of the company, the shape of the glass is derived from the traditional nosing copitas [stemmed snifters] used in whisky labs around Scotland. The glass design was concluded with the aid of master blenders from five of the largest whisky companies in Scotland. The glass first came into production in 2001.

The world of drinkware: always on the move. The Glencairn in 2001, the Nick and Nora in 2005. What next?

One Response to “Gin and glassware”

  1. chrishansenhome Says:

    I nearly bought a set of Nick and Nora glasses for Manhattans, rather than my usual Old Fashioned tumbler. But I reflected and realised that I had no place to store them.

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