Sunday, November 10, 2019

Gin 402: Dissecting a Cocktail: 101 ways to Martini

Someone walks into your bar and asks for a martini. What do you make them? The following are 12 examples of the classic drink. this showcase should run the gamut of what this drink can be. There are a couple variables that aren't directly measured like how many olives do you want in your dirty martini but pish. P.s. Please don't drink all of these in one sitting. It's actually a lot of fun to batch them all up and do 6 1/2 ounce pours of them to really learn your own palette and tastes.

50/50 Martini
1.5oz. Plymouth Gin, 1.5oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth, 1 dash Orange Bitters, Garnish: Lemon Twist
Add these ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir until well chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with a twist of lemon.
This cocktail is actually much closer to the historical Martini recipe than any other drink on this list. The others are substantially more alcohol forward, which became a bit of a trend in the 60s, nearly a century after its likely invention. This recipe showcases how vermouth can add beautiful delicate flavors to the cocktail and let you enjoy yourself without getting too plastered. Finding a balanced ratio between the two main ingredients is truly a matter of personal preference. Some people go classic with a 2:1 ratio of gin:vermouth. Others like 5:1, 8:1, or even 1:2, with more vermouth than gin. Nothing is set in stone.

Churchill Martini
2.5oz. Beefeater London Dry Gin, Garnish: Olive
Stir gin with ice while glancing at an unopened bottle of dry vermouth. Olive garnish
This was indeed how the legendary British Prime Minister ordered his cocktail. He kept it purely British, no French or Italian spirits tainting his gin. Boozy for sure. Fun fact: also how Eggsy took his Martini in the film Kingsman: The Secret Service. A simple riff on this recipe is the In-and-Out Martini. No, not the west coast burger joint. Simply rinse a chilled martini glass with around a quarter ounce of vermouth, coating the glass. Then dump it out. Strain in your chilled gin (or vodka), and bang, gin with essence of vermouth.

Vodka Martini, Shaken not Stirred
2.5oz. Vodka (I recommend Ketel One), 0.5oz. Martini Dry Vermouth, Garnish: Olive
Add your ingredient to a three-piece shaker with ice. shake until chilled (8-10 seconds). strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an olive on a pick. 
Yes, we're going the James Bond route. Well, rather the Sean Connery route. There's some debate as to how this drink became so popular. This was how bond ordered it in the 6th book "Doctor No", which was the first Sean Connery film. But Bond had invented and drank countless other drinks throughout the many books. I'm sure someone has counted them. This drink is unnecessarily watered down and likely has air bubbles and ice shards floating around in it. Perhaps the weaker drink allowed Bond to retain his composure for longer while on the job. This texture is desirable to some but rather uncommon in spirit-forward drinks which could be stirred allowing for a silky clean feel. Some people think that it does make it colder and easier to drink quickly. Up to you, my father likes them.

Diamond Martini
2.5oz. Vodka (I recommend Ardent Union), 1 dash Martini Dry Vermouth, Garnish: Lemon Twist
Batch up these ingredients together. Store them in the freezer until it's as cold as possible. Pour into a chilled martini glass when ready. Garnish with a lemon twist. 
This is the exact opposite of the last Martini. It's all booze, chilled down cold as possible and served with no dilution. It feels like booze. Dilution is a crucial component of every cocktail. Eliminating the water that naturally mixes with the drink creates an imbalance. Feel free to use a 100 proof vodka to really drill the extremes of this example. Or just stick a bottle of Everclear in the freezer. Some people genuinely do just like drinking cold vodka without dilution or mixer, but I find that is a fairly regional preference.

Dirty Martini
2.5oz. gin, 0.5oz. Dry Vermouth, 0.5oz. Spanish Olive Brine, Garnish: Bleu Cheese Stuffed Olive
Add these ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir until well chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with a bleu cheese olive on a pick.
There is a lot of debate about when people started garnishing the martini with olives rather than a twist. According to a story on NPR, a Syrian bar owner in Paris wanted to show off the fruit of his homeland and started sticking them in drinks and it caught on. the added salt and vinegar which was used to store and preserve the fruit created an amazing depth to the otherwise fairly light flavor. I prefer bleu cheese olives personally but it's common to find olives stuffed with garlic, pimento, or other peppers to add some different spice character to the drink. Some people will also use olive juice in place of brine, or even run olives through a centrifuge to extract the essential oils (please make sure these are food safe before purchasing/ingesting).

Perfect
2oz. Tanqueray Gin, 0.5oz. Noilly Prat Dry, 0.5oz. Noilly Prat Sweet, Garnish: Lemon Twist
Add these ingredients to a mixing glass. Stir until well chilled (about 30 seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with a twist of lemon.
This is a sort of step in between the Martini and the Martinez. The drink calls for sweet and dry vermouth. It injects a lot more fruit character into the drink. I don't like an overly complicated and botanical gin for this drink. Tanqueray is famous for having only 4 botanicals which make it less likely to have a clash with any of the ingredients in the vermouth you're using. Feel free to mix and match your ingredients for this one, and all of the other cocktails as well. 

This should have given you a full understanding of what the martini can be in every respect. No two people like their martini's the exact same way. Though obviously, not everyone has had a martini every way you can possibly make it. At least none who have survived. A martini is a very personal thing. Have a conversation with your guest. What spirit? What brand? If they want any vermouth, and how much? What garnish? Ordering a martini means you have to talk to your bartender, eventually they will learn your tastes and make it your way every time. Even then, it's still fun to try new ingredients and ratios to see how your tastes change over time. I would never make the martini I make for myself at home for a random guest at a bar. Who knows? Maybe one of you can make me a drink even better than how I make them for myself. Two people have done it for me so far and it made my life all the better. 

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