Ever since our teenage sons joined the Sugar Bowl Freeride Team and we started leasing at Serene Lakes during ski season, it has become one of our New Year’s Eve traditions to walk across the frozen lakes to watch the fireworks. Whether we’ve had a big, rowdy party or a more intimate dinner party, we are normally already warmed from our cocktail and wine consumption before setting out across the ice. This year in particular, after coming off a challenging (to say the least) end to 2017, we were anxious to ring in a fresh, new promising year. After dinner a friend and I set off walking well before all the teenagers had rallied and we walked towards the lake at a brisk pace, Martini in hand.
Several of us had already had fun on the lake the evening before, slipping and sliding and admiring the lakefront homes twinkling in their Christmas light adornment. This New Year’s Eve night didn’t seem as cold and a clear sky allowed a nearly full moon to illuminate our way. Many families had already congregated on the far side and some were dashing around on ice skates. The two lakes form a figure eight and as we carefully approached the waist, without warning, the ice cracked and I unceremoniously fell through the ice into the frigid water right up to my armpits! I had thrown my arms forward to arrest my fall and had spectacularly managed to save my Martini!
What strangely came to mind was a conversation I had had with the ski team coach while watching our eldest son compete at a Big Mountain Freeride Competition at Squaw. I was waxing on about getting into the gin business and he was equally enthusiastic and quite knowledgeable about the craft movement in both beer and spirits. He recounted the story of his mother who had a 1930s Shirley Temple milk glass which was used in some circles for making the perfect Martini (not the original intent of course!) After doing a little research I discovered that General Mills commissioned the Hazel Atlas Glass Co. to produce a breakfast set with the picture and signature of Shirley Temple. A set consisted of a bowl, a mug and a 4 1/2-inch milk pitcher. They were made of cobalt blue honeycomb pattern glass with white decals of Shirley Temple. The pieces were given away as premiums for Wheaties and Bisquick from 1934 to 1942.
So, how on earth did this relate to my immediate predicament? Well, turns out that Herb Cain of the San Francisco Chronicle used his pitcher with Shirley’s smiling face on it for mixing the perfect Martini, the formula being “Gin to the chin, vermouth to the tooth!” And there I was, in the icy water up to my neck, my Martini safely resting on the ice - Gin to MY Chin, vermouth to MY tooth!”
P.S. Happily, I pulled myself up, belly crawled the next twenty feet and stood up. No big deal. My friend alerted the teenagers to the danger, they circumnavigated the thin ice and disaster was averted. We all enjoyed the fireworks show and (after a hot shower) we rang in the New Year with Champagne and Gin cocktails from our custom made Ginny’s Gin shot ski. More on that later…..
Happy New Year!