Friday, November 7, 2008

Absinthe and Philip Roth Don't Mix

The LAByrinth Theater Company of New York is presenting a new play by David Bar Katz called "Philip Roth in Khartoum."

Here's the very interesting plot description:

A marriage in the throes of sexual and financial problems is pushed to the brink in a game of Truth or Dare at a cocktail party. Philip Roth in Khartoum examines the destructive power of truth and the devastating impact of bad sex, autism, Philip Roth, absinthe and genocide on husbands and wives during an intimate evening with friends.

Note to White Star: do not serve Philip Roth.


tb said...

OK - now I want to hear the conversation between you and Katz on the one subject that matters:

What is a (real) martini?

There's no more pressing question than that!

David Bar Katz said...

'Real' is a problematic word because in this context it generally means 'authentic', and many people could very justifiably argue that an authentic martini should be one third vermouth, and though this formulation is true to the martini's origin, I think calling it the 'real' martini is like calling a Neanderthal a real human. We can be grateful the Neanderthal came into existence, but we don't necessarily want to hold one at a cocktail party.

There are certain shortcuts to quickly learning if you are having a martini conversation with a person that knows what they are talking about. The most obvious one is that they must know that the only true martini is made with gin. If they do not take this as a truism, there is no point in continuing the conversation. Another is the issue of fruit. Anything more elaborate than a twist, and as far as I'm concerned you may as well be at a 7-Eleven discussing Slurpees. Slurpees have their virtues, but no matter how much they cost or what you drink them out of, they are not martinis. Don't get me started on lychee or kiwi.

Once martini common ground is established, then reasonable people can argue over issues like Vermouth brands and percentage, onions vs olives, and stirred vs shaken, but these differences constitute family disagreements and can be conducted with a relaxed joviality that I for one cannot muster when dealing with that category of people who can utter the phrase 'very dirty', put the word 'vodka' next to the word 'martini', or defend Stalin.

Robert Simonson said...

A note from the playwright himself. I'm honored. We should get together. I write about both spirits and theatre, and it's rare I've found a theatre pro who knows anything about cocktails. I agree with most everything you say about Martinis except one: I cannot brook the idea of a Martini being shaken. James Bond was a boor. What's more, he was really drinking Vespers, not Martinis. Thus, the inclusion of Vodka.