I used to be a college professor –always itinerant, and deliberately so. Teaching from time to time absolved me of worthless faculty meetings, their characteristic bloviations, and arcane committees deliberately designed to be as pointless and endless as possible as a way of eating up younger faculty members’ time and distracting them from their own work, thereby preventing them from getting tenure. So if I’m pedantic for a moment, it won’t be a big surprise.
Madras, both the drink and the fabric, is pronounced like mattress, not like m’Dross.
Although m’Dross has a whiff of sophistication and an exotic foreign quality, like calling someone ma cherie or ma petite chou-chou, ordering a mattress at an elegant bar or fancy country club invites jokes at one’s own expense, but it happens to be the correct way to pronounce the name of the drink. So if anyone makes fun of you for pronouncing it correctly, just tell the joker to shove his ignorance up his stinking bunghole and revel in your own refinement.
Why is this cocktail called a Madras? I don’t know, and I don’t care.
What I do know is that mixing one allows you to show off your mixology skills without really having any. Unless your hands shake because you have delirium tremens (which I don’t) or Parkinson’s disease (which I do), it’s very easy to float the orange juice on top of the cranberry-juice-vodka blend that constitutes the body of the cocktail.
Start by pouring the vodka over some ice cubes. (For those of you who may not be the brightest bulbs in the chandelier, start by putting the ice cubes in a glass.) Add cranberry juice to taste, but make sure that the liquid covers the ice as much as possible. (Another note to dimwits: ice floats, so you can’t submerge them completely no matter how much vodka you add.)
Now here’s the trick: turn a spoon upside down, place it as level as possible with the top of the liquid in the glass, and gently pour in the orange juice. Et voilà: your mattress is a showpiece.
Now a note to my fellow Parkinsonians: you can live very happily without layering cocktails, but give it a try despite the tremors. If you’re lucky, you’ll create a neat rippling effect between the red cranberry juice and the orange, one that will really impress your guests because they will not be able to achieve the effect on their own. If it doesn’t work and the drink turns out to be a mess, then invite a little bit of well-deserved concern for yourself by serving the drink anyway. With your head held high, carry the cocktail to your guest with a hand so shaky that some of it sloshes on the floor, and enjoy the look of helplessness on the guest’s face. “I used to be able to do this,” you say with just a touch of regret, then launch a discussion of the great work the Michael J. Fox Foundation is doing. Your guest will write a check the minute s/he gets home, and you’ll have hastened the cure we all want to see—and receive—in our lifetimes.