Saturday we made our way to Derbyshire to attend our fifth consecutive Boylestone Annual Show in which the village of Boylestone, pop. 123, exhibits its finest examples of giant leeks, home-brewed wine, marmalade, beetroot chutney, Victoria sponge, and such. There are first, second, and third place winners, plus a cup winner for each division, and any goods not removed from the hall by 4:45pm are auctioned off to raise money for the church and village hall. But before we got to any of that we made our way to the Rose and Crown for some mid-day refreshment.
The sky was blue which meant the smokers were out on the front lawn en masse. I was delighted to find one of my favorite regulars, David Double-Barrelled, among them. Imagine Prince Charles if he was mustachioed, always wore yellow socks, and had a shadow of alcohol-induced rosacea spreading across his face like errant ivy. DDB was drinking a pint of Pedigree from the crystal mug stored behind the bar for him, and before long he was regaling me with tales of his youthful years in NYC in the late sixties and early seventies.
Now I am accustomed to learning all sorts of useful things in the course of such country pub conversation, particularly that which occurs in the Rose and Crown. Typically the miscellany is of the how-to-make-elderflower-wine or shoot-a-game-bird variety, that is to say distinctly rural. But on this occasion DDB shared with me a rather cosmopolitan lesson from his time in Manhattan: instructions for making a dry martini, courtesy of Bill the bartender at the old Oak Bar at The Plaza. If you ordered a dry martini at the Oak, Bill would fill a glass with gin and finish it with a mere wave of the cap from a bottle of vermouth. If, however, you ordered an extra dry martini, he would fill your glass with gin then call the bartender at the Waldorf Astoria and have him whisper “vermouth” as he held the receiver of the phone over the top of your glass.
On Saturday the fanciest drink on offer at the Rose and Crown was probably a gin and tonic, but one day I hope to make my way to The Plaza and have occasion to ask the bartender to make that call.