The Dry Martinis and the Cigarettes of Doom
Paul Andrew talks to David Backler of The Dry Martinis about..well..drinking..
Throughout the ages the martini has been a perfect muse. British playwright and consummate gentleman Noel Coward wouldn’t be caught dead without a full Martini glass while dressed in a black tuxedo, Australian author Frank Moorehouse wrote an entire memoir based upon a lifetime of intoxicating martini experiences and American writer E.B White described the cocktail most eloquently as “the elixir of quietude”.
For converts like them, it’s known as Martini lore, that inescapable sense of occasion that arrives with this most mysterious and arcane cocktail of all, a slow tango of gin and vermouth.
Musician David Backler remembers his most vivid martini memory: “ I was running down the back streets of Shanghai after a cabaret gig and found myself fleeing into a local bar to escape the millions of people who had gone crazy while looking for shelter from a wild tropical typhoon.
A man sitting peacefully at the bar turned to me and spoke very softly, 'if you have plans for the night, you had better change them now.' Yes, Martinis are all about the total moment.”
The Dry Martinis are Dianne Heywood-Smith and David Backler. In recent years these tangoistas have trekked continents far and wide with their elegant long stemmed cocktail glasses, witty cabaret and physical theatre performances in tow. "As genres go, it’s a vaudeville-noir mystery thriller." Backler says."Protagonists Shanghai Lil and Hurricane Harry are on a quest to find a precious diamond and they enjoy a few dry martinis along the way. They encounter spies, double agents, assassins, ballroom dancing, bad service, a haunted house and mysteriously, a fate worse than sobriety.”
The Dry Martinis have been mainstays in backstreet speakeasys throughout Asia and South America during the last four years. Melbourne martini aficionados will know them well from recent gigs at The Famous Speigeltent.
According to Backler himself, The Dry Martinis are also rather gifted souls when it comes to the Tango Argentino. In Buenos Aires he and Heywood Smith are rather “reputed and respected” as genuine "milongueros" and have performed at famous clubs including Confiteria Ideal, Bar Sur, Almagro, La Cumparsita and Milonga del Mundo.
And no Dry Martini show would be complete without well, a few desert dry martinis. As author and celebrated wit James Thurber once said, “One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough" or as Backler himself likes to put it: " I love to have a Martini, but one or two at the most, you see, three I'm under the table, four I'm under the host.”
Melbourne Fringe Festival Show