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Friday, June 4, 2010

The Classic Martini – a cocktail for the ages… or you

The Martini is the classic cocktail.  It’s so iconic that its name is often used to mean “cocktail”.  Many cocktails are called Martinis that, sadly, are not.  Accept no substitutes!  Since the primary ingredient (about 98%) of a Martini is Gin, you will want to use your best for this cocktail.  (See my paragraph on Gin in Cocktails 101: Stocking your bar for delicious cocktails – Part 2.)  If you don’t have any really good gin, your might want to add some to your bar.  This month the Utah State Liquor Store system has Tanqueray® Gin on Special Price Adjustment.  Plymouth® Gin is also marked down in case you like your Gin a little sweeter.  Hendrick’s® is an excellent Gin that makes great Martinis, as does Bombay Sapphire®.

Martinis should, of course, be stirred and not shaken.  Do you remember the old movies where the man of the house got home from work and stirred up a pitcher of Martinis?  Cocktails that are clear should not be shaken because shaking clouds them up by introducing small bubbles into the mix.  On the other hand, shaking also introduces tiny ice crystals into a cocktail that feel sensational as you drink an ice-cold cocktail.  Decide for yourself: clarity vs. ice crystals.  For garnish, some people prefer olives in their Martinis (this is obviously the only way to go for a dirty Martini), others prefer a twist of lemon peel (twist it above the glass to release the oils before dropping it in).  I go both ways, depending on mood.  The glass is key to a good Martini.  The best glass for Martinis is (you guessed it) a Martini glass.  The purpose of the stem is to keep your hands away from the drink and consequently to keep the drink cold, so hold the glass by the stem.  Once you get hooked on Martinis, you will want to invest in some glasses.  Chill your glasses in ice or in the freezer (preferred) for five to ten minutes or longer.  Chilling glasses is good for all cocktails, but especially for Martinis.


2 ½ oz of your favorite Gin
1/2 teaspoon Noilly Prat® dry vermouth (or better)
Dash of Angostura® Bitters (optional)

Pour Gin into a mixing glass half full of cracked ice.  Add the optional bitters if you’re in the mood.  Stir briskly at least 30 seconds until well chilled.  Let it rest while you fetch a glass from the freezer.  Drop the vermouth into the glass and swish it around to coat the inside.  Feel free to pour out any excess vermouth if you like your Martini very dry, or pour it into the mixing glass and take another stir or two.  Strain the Martini into the glass, add your selected garnish (see above), and enjoy!

If you add a cocktail onion instead of an olive, you’ll have a Gibson.  For a Dirty Martini, add 1/2 oz olive brine to the mixing glass, but take my word for it: you’re better off not doing this.

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