Introductions and the Evolution of the Martini

A well lived life is full of stories. My father’s life was filled with great stories about family, friends, food, sports, law or any myriad of other topics. Whatever the story, it was often accompanied by a great glass of wine or a nice drink.



Hi, I’m Daniel, aka Knothead, the youngest son of Sweetieman and Baby lady.  To give a little background about myself, I’m the fourth of five children and the youngest son. I served in the United States Coast Guard as a Food Service Specialist Third Class; where I cooked and help manage the Sector Northern New England Galley and Mess. We’re already loosely acquainted through several of my father’s posts which include some of my work. Like my father, I love good food and I also happen to love a good drink. As such, this is the introductory post for the new cocktail section of this blog. Ironically this is not the first cocktail post here, that would be the recipe for Gin and Tonic which is under the post for homemade tonic water.

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My father loved gin and used to drink martinis semi regularly, that is until his second year of law school. The way Dad told this story, he was living in Lubbock at the time and due to some miscommunication he thought his father had fallen seriously ill. He was out with friends and may have consumed one too many dry martinis. It was then that he swore off them for good…. That is until his youngest son came home and started drinking them. Curiosity would get the better of him; a week or so later I come home to find a martini glass with ice on the kitchen island and my father walking around with a bottle of Tanqueray in hand. Naturally, I start laughing, asking him what on earth is he doing? He looks at me befuddled and says don’t you pour the vermouth over the ice and pour it off? At which point I usher him to the side and make his drink. The recipe for this drink, I have loving dubbed the Richard McGary martini which is as follows.

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Ingredients – The Richard McGary Martini

  • .5 ounces Vya Dry (or other good dry vermouth such as Dolin Dry)
  • 2 ounces Tanqueray
  • Ice

Place ice in a shaker and pour in vermouth. Coat the ice with the vermouth, and strain off excess. Pour Tanqueray into shaker. Shake briefly and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with cocktail onions, olives or both.

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Note: this is how my father preferred his martini. Shaking a cocktail over stirring, causes more of the ice to melt and increases dilution. This may work for you but it is not what I recommend.

Now, the martini has origins in two older cocktails. Its grandfather being one almost entirely lost to time despite its former popularity, the Turf Club. The first written recipe for the Turf Club is from 1884 and calls for Old Tom Gin and Italian Vermouth. During that time it was assumed that Italian vermouth was the sweet red kind rather than dry off-white, which was frequently referred to as French vermouth. The assumption was obviously wrong and they are now called by their proper names. However, the Turf Club has more variations than nearly any drink, with both the styles of gin and vermouth frequently changing. It is also common to add a splash of absinthe or maraschino liqueur to the drink. One recipe for a rather dry Turf Club is as follows:

Ingredients – The Turf Club

  • 1.5 ounces Ransom London Dry Gin
  • 1.5 ounces Vya Dry Vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon Kirsch
  • 1 teaspoon Herbsaint (or other anise liqueur such as Penrod)
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • Ice

Turf club Martini a copy

Pour the vermouth, Herbsaint, and gin into a mixing glass. Add ice. Using a bar spoon stir for ten seconds. Double strain into a coup glass. Float the Kirsch by gently placing the contents on top of the drink surface. This provides better aromatics and additional complexity to the drink. Run an orange peel along the rim of the glass and use it as a garnish.

Whereas the origins of the Turf Club are unknown, the origins of the  next martini, the Martinez, are hotly debated. The Martinez is remarkably similar to both the Turf Club, and the oldest of vermouth cocktails, the Manhattan. The most frequently repeated origin story, was that it was birthed in Martinez, California for a miner wanting champagne. The bartender not having champagne, lied. Telling the miner that he had something better than champagne, the “Martinez Special”. Like most drinks of the time, the Martinez uses Old Tom gin rather than London Dry. Recipe is as follows.

Ingredients – The Martinez

  • 2 ounces Ransom Old Tom Gin
  • 0.75 ounces Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • 0.25 ounces Vya Dry Vermouth
  • 0.25 ounces Grand Marnier
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Martinez Martini a copy

Pour all ingredients into mixing glass. Add ice. Using a bar spoon stir for ten seconds. Double strain into a coup glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Over time the Martinez morphed into the 1:1 Martini, substituting away from sweet vermouth to extra dry, and from Old Tom to London Dry. However, prior to prohibition vermouth was used in significantly higher quantities. Originally, the recipe for a 1:1 Martini would look more like this:

Ingredients 1:1 Martini

  • 1.5 ounces Ransom London Dry Gin
  • 1.5 ounces Vya Dry Vermouth

Martini a.png

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice. Using a bar spoon stir for ten seconds. Double strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Finally, during prohibition, less spirited drinks fell out of fashion due to the difficulty of procuring alcohol. Afterwards, Americans somehow had forgotten that vermouth, while fortified, is still a wine. Once opened, vermouth will eventually oxidize and is best consumed within 4-6 weeks. Bartenders forgot this and as a result martinis grew dryer and dryer until they resembled what my father was familiar with, where you poured the excess off. However, vermouth when treated with respect, adds a level of complexity on the nose and palate that is not to be underestimated. I therefore submit to you what I consider the “Ideal Martini” and would have been more along the lines of what people were drinking just before Prohibition:

Ingredients – The Ideal Martini

  • 2 ounces St. George’s Terroir Gin
  • 0.25 ounces Vya Dry Vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters.

Ideal Martini a

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice. Using a bar spoon stir for ten seconds. Double strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

So there you have it. You now have several recipes to try. Have a great martini and think of all the possibilities. As for me, here is to you Dad!

In loving memory of Richard Emory McGary (aka the Sweetieman)


It is with great sorrow and a heavy heart that I must share the sad news of the passing of our wonderful Richard aka the Sweetieman.  I also feel the need to apologize for taking so long to write this post. It  took me some time to get his affairs in order and gather my thoughts around publishing this news. This picture was taken late one evening after dinner as we relaxed on the patio scrolling through the countless cooking and pouring shots. It was one of his favorite ways to wind down after dinner and reflect on the next post. Richard loved the blog and the people he met through it. He loved sharing stories and his love of good food. As this blog grew so did the friendships and the stories of new friends and new ideas. He is missed every minute of everyday by us and so we would like to share his obituary with you.


Richard Emory McGary, loving husband and devoted father, noted litigation and products liability attorney, chef and food blogger passed away Friday, October 9, 2015 at age 61 at his home in Richardson, Texas.


Richard will always be remembered for his kindness and loving friendship to his friends and as the lawyer in the cowboy hat to his clients. He was always up beat and met each day with a smile on his face.  Clients, colleagues and peers described Richard as a “lawyer’s lawyer—-someone you could trust and know that he would always be prepared, fight the fair fight, and give it hell, all the time. His quality of work was the gold standard. He was a great example of what young lawyers should aspire to be.” Richard described himself as a lawyer by day and chef by night, as he loved the law and all things culinary. He spent over 25 years handling complex litigation and as National Counsel for several major manufacturers of consumer electronics products managing product liability litigation as well as advising them on issues of product liability, consumer product safety, and risk management issues directed towards reducing exposure to product liability, warranty and other product related claims. Richard also successfully presented his clients’ cases before the Texas Supreme Court on two occasions.

Richard had boundless energy to juggle work, play, and family.  He had many passions, all of them pursued with unflagging enthusiasm, gusto, and joy. He was an avid fly fisherman and even tied his own flies. He was a knowledgeable wine connoisseur, with an extensive wine cellar to show for it. He loved art and collected it. He loved antiques but was most partial to family heirlooms.


Richard was also a gourmet cook having cooked professionally and run restaurants in his early adult years prior to law school. He started as a fry cook, a line cook, a saucier, etc., then doing a stint in culinary school, running kitchens and managing restaurants. He then made his way to law school, passed the bar and began practicing law in 1985. In recent years, he began blogging about food on his cooking blog, REMCooks. com. He and his blog were honored with various awards and acknowledgments from his fellow bloggers and was also featured by  Richardson Living magazine in their May/June 2015 edition. In his blog, he explains how his blog evolved and took on a life of its own. It was a real joy that allowed him to meet many new people from all over the world who love food, cooking, good times and sharing knowledge as much as he did. He always felt fortunate, thankful and honored that people recognized his photos, recipes and work.


Richard was born in Madison, Wisconsin, the son of Mary Joanne Miller McGary and Lester Eugene McGary Jr. MD. He attended Corsicana schools until 1967 when he then began attending St. Mark’s School of Texas, in Dallas. He would later return to Corsicana High School graduating in 1972. While at Corsicana High School, Richard actively participated in choir, gymnastics, baseball and football.

Richard continued on attended The University of Texas at Arlington receiving a BA in Political Science in 1982 and Texas Tech University School of Law where he graduated cum laude in 1984. He was on the Texas Tech Law Review and was admitted to the Texas bar on May 1985; United States District Court for the Northern, Southern and Eastern Districts in the State of Texas;  United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and admitted pro hac vice in Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Utah.


Richard is survived by his loving wife, Elia Hernandez McGary (aka the Baby Lady) of Richardson, TX and their five children; his father Lester Eugene McGary, MD. of Corsicana, TX; Lester Eugene McGary III, (and Donna Briggs McGary) of Charlotte, NC; and John Edward McGary (and Gladys Bel McGary) of Houston, TX. Richard was predeceased by his mother, Mary Joanne McGary.

A memorial service was held on Monday, February 29, 2016 at Custer Road United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas. Eulogy by Teresa Burroff, John Anderson and Charlene Koonce. The family requested donations be made to the Heart Association in lieu of sending flowers.

What’s next?

As we look forward, Daniel (Knothead), Robert (Quickstep) and I (Baby Lady) will be publishing four recipes that Richard left as drafts. Daniel is adding a new section for cocktails which he is excited about sharing. I will continue to share the recipes Richard and I cooked and those I think he would enjoy sharing. Robert will be serving as photographer. We hope to continue to share his passion for good food with you.


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