Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

For now, that is. I need to focus on work and, well, most things come to an end, no? Though the inevitable catastrophe of death awaits us all, not so for the finest cocktail: The Martini. As perfect as a sonnet, Mencken said. I began The Friday Cocktail Hour two and a half years ago with a martini (outraged, outraged!, when I ordered a martini and was asked which vodka I preferred). I attached a memory of the best martini of my life to my first book contract this spring. And with a martini I finish.

Because this concludes, for the nonce, my beloved Friday Cocktail Hour, we shall call this one the Is That All There Is? Martini. Gin, almost needless to say, flavored with vermouth and lemon, something to sip for comfort as we wait for That Final Disappointment.

Two ounces, no, three since we’re having just one. And a capful of vermouth. My preferred ratio is 5 to 1 gin to vermouth—but please, whatever you choose, enough vermouth so you can taste it.

And stirred. Many cocktails should be shaken. Martinis should not.

With a sigh, and as a chill front arrives in Clevelandtown, I will pour a martini tonight, bid summer goodbye, and prepare to get back to work. As Papa aptly noted, writers work best in fall because they feel death coming on. So it is in this household.

Is there an emoji for this?

Happy Friday, happy fall, a long and happy life to all.

The Martini

  • 3 ounces excellent gin (I prefer Beefeater)
  • 1 capful vermouth (or to taste—meaning you can taste it)
  • Lemon twist
  1. Combine the fluids in a vessel.
  2. Add plenty of ice. Let it sit for a half minute or so. Stir it for a half minute or so.
  3. Strain into a chilled glass. Add the twist.
  4. Cue Peggy Lee.

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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


30 Wonderful responses to “The Final Cocktail Hour:
Is That All There Is?”

  • Victoria

    The story goes (and it is perhaps only a story, not the truth) that the reason Winston Churchill did not put vermouth in his martinis and simply raised his glass toward France was because during the war he couldn’t get French vermouth.

    And that’s as good a story for me to say goodbye – for now – to your Friday posts. I have enjoyed them and have you to thank many times over, especially for the Paloma.

    I will have my martini tonight with Plymouth Gin – for me Plymouth, always Plymouth, only Plymouth – and raise my glass toward Cleveland.

    Cheers to you and Donna.

  • Steve

    Sad to see this series coming to an end — even if just temporarily.

    I would not now be a Negroni drinker without you, and the Paloma is my go-to summer drink, supplanting even the venerable G&T.


  • Sally Webber

    Thank you for your wonderful cocktail stories and recipes. Absolute alchemy! I will celebrate with a martini this evening and think of you fondly.

  • Tasha

    Sad day, but all good things yadda yadda. It’s been fun while it lasted!
    As for the martini, I’m a 3:1 and a dash of bitters person, but at least you should be able to taste the vermouth. Always will be a fan of a real martini. Cheers one last time!

  • melissa b.

    I have really enjoyed Friday Cocktail Hour. I’ve some plans to start a binder with all of my favorite recipes from the internet (after almost losing my favorite brownie recipe forever) and I can see myself printing more than a few of these to add to The Binder.


  • MGM

    Damn.Guess I’ll be digging through the archives every Friday…

    Thanks for 2+ years of cocktails!

  • Claudia

    So sad, I’m going to miss these. I shared them every week and people started depending on them to start their weekends. Ohwell, I’ll have to dig into the archives, or just post the Paloma every week. Thanks for all the mixed delights, and also for going out with a bang, notably, the Beefeaters!!

  • Rick

    Thanks, Michael, for this weekly dose of civility which arrives here on the west coast two hours early. I’ll be reaching for the Tanqueray this evening.


  • jim clay

    Thank you again for your consummate research and dedication to detail. Per a post many moons ago on twitter, I put two bottles of vermouth in the fridge (Noilly Prat dry and Cinzano rosso) and two more under my bar as an experiment of longevity. I remember that there were a large percentage of your followers at that time that put your idea down as fiction. You were absolutely correct in your statement that vermouth should be refrigerated after opening. After two years I have noticed the following: First of all, vermouth darkens when exposed to oxygen and light, and the taste is adversely altered. By keeping the vermouth in the fridge, it is almost always in the dark and the lower temperature retards the absorption of oxygen. Both the Noilly Prat and the darker Cinzano Rosso were more floral and vibrant when kept in the fridge and therefore makes a Friday Cocktail worth waiting for. I have finally discarded the remaining vermouth that was kept at room temperature behind my bar, I can see no reason to screw up a good Martini or Manhattan. Cheers and give Donna a big hug for her wonderful photos.

  • trinichad

    Raising a glass to toast the final friday cocktail. I’ve enjoyed greatly and learned much. Thanks

  • Dean

    Ok. You have finished with Friday cocktails. Big freakin’ deal. I don’t get the sadness and moping from other posters. You have done a fine job on Fridays. You have six more days to work on. Get to it.

  • Donna Adams

    Is that all there is? Come on! Cheers to you!
    Thanks for all your delicious make you feel good Fridays!

  • Ben Morgenstein

    It was a great run. If we all post “encore!” enough times, will you give us one or two more? I have some Japanese single malt whisky (Yamakazi 12 year) that is arguably too good for a cocktail, but I’d be intrigued to try one.

  • Andy

    I loved Friday night cocktails. Thanks for all the great posts. Having a Titos and water at the moment. My martini days seem to be over.

  • Kevin

    Sad to see it go. I didn’t always check it out on Friday but would catch up on missed weeks. Have tried most and it was always a good read. Expanded my cocktail Fridays! Thanks.

  • Bob your almost neighbor

    At least you’re going out with the right cocktail. And beautifully photographed. Your brief, flawlessly written farewell missed a couple important points about the Martini – points you might have held back on, but which I, as one of the world’s most enthusiastic lovers of the drink in its classic form, cannot leave unsaid (at the risk of sounding sexist):
    1. The perfect Martini can be improved upon by consuming it in company of 1 or 2 close friends.
    2. Martinis taste better with your tie loosened – or better yet in T-shirt, shorts and sandals.
    3. When mixed and presented by a quiet, businesslike and beautiful bartender who knows her craft, a good Martini is worth twice the price.
    3. At the risk of censorship, Martinis are like a woman’s breasts: 1 isn’t enough; 3 are too many.
    Michael, thank you for the Friday inspirations.

  • Chad Ward

    And if you haven’t seen Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea, you’ve fot a great movie ahead of you. Mix yourself a cocktail and settle in. Hate to see this end.

  • Allen

    Strange, I have since acquired a taste for vodka martini’s since this Friday journey began.
    I still like a nice olive and a twist, but the transition to vodka is something I would not have predicted years ago, the vodka keeps the drink honest and pure when you want to taste the lemon twist, vermouth and the olive.

    I know you like to call them kangaroos, but I’m calling them a martini, because they are so good. No corruption with aromatics.

    I just re-read Stephen King’s the Shinning before transitioning into his new novel Dr Sleep.
    I’ve read it was written and inspired after his joining AA.

    It deals with alcohol, martini’s and the darker side of over indulgence.
    A real page turner, much better than the film.

    Forget the film, read the book.
    And enjoy a martini, vodka or gin. In moderation, with a good book.

    Wishing you all the very best. Leaves will be dropping soon, so keep your spirits and stemware up!

  • Tags

    There’s nothing wrong with a vodka martini as long as you add the qualifier. To assume that a “martini” contains vodka is an abomination worthy of a rant that launches a weekly cocktail series. After reading your Friday Cocktail Hours I can say that suffering that initial indignity was worth it.

  • Kathy

    It’s not about the destination, but the journey, and what you learn from it. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Ruhlman for your tutorials and storied accounting of personal experiences with libations. I was thirsty and have enjoyed the posts and learned a great deal. As a bonus, my husband and I have stockpiled a hefty liquor collection, we will continue to toast you each Friday at the appointed cocktail hour.

  • drew

    I just found this site in the middle of the summer. I started with the basil gimlet and now the end?! At least I have my negronis, old fahsioneds, Manhattans, and martinis to get me through. Nothing new from here out on Fridays. Thankful for the basil gimlet though. It made my summer.

  • Amanda

    A stunning conclusion, Michael! Thankfully we will still have so many wonderful Friday Cocktail Hour posts to refer back to for inspiration and to get us in that weekend mood – even if it’s Tuesday 🙂

  • Bob

    I don’t drink, but I’ve always enjoyed reading (and sometimes sharing) the FCH posts.

  • chris herzeca

    michael, i am still working through 20…will be the first cook book that i read cover to cover.

    as for my martini, i find that no.3 gin is the best, followed by bulldog. i keep it in the freezer to pre-chill. i do not add vermouth, but i find that if i add a couple of fresh olives (from the olive bar at zabars or fairways on uws of ny), i get some flavor contribution that adds to the juniper etc of a dry london gin.

    keep up the good work

  • Johnny K from MN

    I wasn’t drinking Martinis back when Peggy Lee was closing out the Hoolihan and Big Chuck show but I do enjoy them now thanks to you. Fridays won’t be same.

  • Wilma de Soto

    So sorry to see this feature pass from your blog. It has been a delightful and educational series. BTW, Did I miss a post on The Bronx cocktail?

    On a happier note you went out with my absolute favorite cocktail made exactly the way I like it. A REAL martini made with GIN.

    You know what they say about martinis don’t you: One is not enough; two is too many, and three is PERFECT!

    A toast to this feature: “¡Salúd, Amor y Pesetas y el tiempo para disfrutarlo! Health, Love and Money and the Time to Enjoy It!

    Thanks, Mr. Ruhlman