The How To Series: The Martini
Howdy folks. I’ve decided to begin a series of cocktail recipes. There is a lot of information out there on the internet on how to make cocktails properly, and most of it is wrong. So I hereby present the correct way to do things, because my method is of course the right one.
You with me?
I’m going to start the series with the Martini, which is probably the first drink people think of when they think “cocktail.” I’m going to make the assumption that you will be making this at home, rather than at a well stocked bar, so if you’re a professional bartender reading this, bear with me.
First, a little history. Where does the Martini come from? It’s a lot older than you think, dating back to sometime in the 19th century, but no one is for sure. There is an earlier drink called a Martinez, which some folks think evolved into the Martini, which is possible, since the Martini is like a stripped down version of the Martinez. I’ve also heard the theory that the Martini is named after Martini&Rossi, makers of the dry vermouth that has poisoned so many potentially good drinks. The company has been around since the mid-nineteenth century, so maybe this is true.
Here’s what I do know: How to make this drink. Here we go.
What You Will Need Prepared In Advance
- Ice (you’ll need maybe three or four big cubes for one drink, so plan ahead accordingly)
- I’d recommend putting your Martini glasses in the freezer about fifteen minutes before making the drinks, but if you forget, or this is a Martini emergency, don’t worry, we can work around this.
- Martini glass
- A pint glass
- A long spoon
- Something to strain with
- Olives and toothpicks (if you’re garnishing with olives)
- Cocktail onion and toothpicks (if you’re garnishing with an onion)
- A lemon and a potato peeler (if you’re a lemon twist kind of person)
- Gin: What kind of gin? This is up to you. I prefer the local gins here in Portland, such as Aviation or 12 Bridges (EDIT: Oh no! They’re going out of business!), but you might not have access to those. Choose a good one, don’t be stingy. Remember, this is a Martini, and you should take it seriously. Bombay Sapphire is okay, Junipero from San Francisco is great if a little pricey, choose something nice.
- Vermouth: What kind of vermouth? The most underrated ingredient in a liquor collection is vermouth. Most people buy a bottle of the cheapest stuff on the shelf and leave it to get dusty with their other bottles. By the time they are ready to use it, it has turned yellow and tastes like pee. Sound familiar? You’ve got a bottle of Stock or Martini & Rossi behind your gin, don’t you? It’s five years old, I bet. Toss it. It’s not good anymore. Go to a decent liquor store or a fancy grocery store and buy a bottle of Noilly Prat dry vermouth. It’s like $16, it’s not going to break the bank. If they have Dolin Dry, that’s okay too. If the only vermouth they have is under $13, leave that store and go to another one until you find some good vermouth. Otherwise, don’t even bother making this drink, make something else.
How to Make a Martini
- Pour 2 1/2 oz of gin into that pint glass (any large glass will do, really)
- Pour 1/2 oz of that delicious new vermouth you just bought into that glass. Half an ounce? Surely I can’t be serious! Shut up, I know what I’m doing. And don’t call me Shirley.
- Add a bunch of ice to the glass.
- Stir. A lot. Wait, why aren’t we shaking this? Doesn’t James Bond shake his martinis? First, James Bond isn’t a real person. He’s fictional. Don’t trust him to make a drink correctly for you. Second, Bond doesn’t drink Martinis in the books, he drinks a delicious cocktail called a Vesper, which I will teach you to make another time. Smirnoff vodka paid a promotional fee to have Bond drink their vodka in Dr. No and the world has suffered ever since. Actually, since Casino Royale, he’s been back to drinking properly. Third (and most importantly), shaking a cocktail introduces bubbles to the mixture, which change the flavor profile of that perfect balance of gin and vermouth you just measured out. The only time you should shake a cocktail is when there is citrus involved, because it is difficult to stir citrus juices into submission. You gotta shake ‘em. But since there is no citrus here, we’re going to stir. How much? If you want to count, stir it twenty-five times. I personally just stir until I think I’ve stirred enough.
- Take that Martini glass out of the freezer. It should be nice and frosty. Did you forget to freeze one? You can quick chill one by filling it with ice and water and letting it sit for a minute or two, although it’s not as satisfying.
- Strain the booze into the glass.
- Garnish with either an olive or an onion on a toothpick. Don’t even think of adding any of the juice to this drink, or I will come to your house and punch you in the face.
- If you like lemon zest instead, use the potato peeler to peel the lemon vertically (from top to bottom). Use a fresh lemon. take the peel and face it outside down and squeeze it over your glass– it should spray lemon oil on to the surface of the drink. Run the outside of the peel around the edge of the glass, roll it up and toss it in.
- Consume in a safe and timely manner.
If you’ve chosen to use an onion instead of an olive, you’ve now made a drink called a Gibson. Look, now you know how to make two drinks perfectly! Cary Grant drinks Gibsons in North By Northwest so they are A-OK with me.
Why gin and not vodka? You hate gin, you think. You probably don’t, actually. When properly made, the vermouth mellows out a lot of the gin, making this an extremely drinkable drink. A vodka martini isn’t a real martini, it’s a faker. A dry vodka martini isn’t even a real cocktail, it’s just a bunch of cold vodka in a glass, which is great if you’re a Russian. You aren’t? You shouldn’t be drinking one then.
You might find other opinions on the internet or from your friends on how to make a martini differently than this, but just remember, they are wrong.