We very rarely drink hard liquor or cocktails nowadays. Red wine and sake are more agreeable most of the time. But if the occasion calls for it like today, we enjoy a cocktail. I usually go for a Martini and my wife for a Manhattan. I think that, the quality of the gin, bourbon, and vermouth or whatever you are using is, of course, important. There are other very important details that make the cocktails especially good. The first is the glass. It has to be a very thin rimmed crystal so that when it touches your lip, it gives you a nice sensation. A thick cheap cocktail glass actually made of glass does not do it. Second, the glass and the ingredients have to be very cold. I chill the glasses by pouring crushed ice mixed with cold water into them first. Using a cocktail shaker with enough crushed ice (-10F ice from a freezer is better than ice from a stand alone ice maker some establishments may use, which is not as cold) is also important so that the cocktail is super cold. Tiny ice crystals should float on the surface when poured. Third, the garnish–a good stuffed green olive for the Martini and maraschino cherries for the Manhattan. In the case of my wife, make that two maraschino cherries. (Its a long story having to do with good family times, and the distribution, to the kids, of Maraschino cherries, one each, from a Grandma and Grandpa who liked Manhattans but not the Maraschino’s that came in them). Of course instead of having a cocktail in a dark and smoky bar, we like to have it in our backyard on the weekend when the weather is perfect–sunny, cool and no mosquitoes, like today. We had small canapes of creme fraiche, capers and smoked salmon on small squares of Pumpernickel with the cocktails. We had to admit, though, if there is a nice Izakaya nearby like this one, we may change our mind and venue (especially if it was a weekday evening).