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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

National Martini Day is July 19

The Martini is perhaps the most iconic of cocktails.  The cocktail glass is often called a “Martini glass,” and many (shall we say) less sophisticated establishments refer to any cocktail served in a cocktail glass as a Martini.  On National Martini Day, however, you should accept no substitutes.  “Real” Martinis are made from Gin and Dry Vermouth (usually French), although some excellent Vodka Martinis can be had.  The Martini has evolved over the years: it was originally made with Sweet Vermouth and Plymouth® Gin.

A “Dry Martini” is one made with less Vermouth.  Readers have probably seen or heard jokes about just waving the Vermouth cork over the Gin, or rinsing the glass with Vermouth and then dumping it.  While this may be a solution for old, semi-spoiled Vermouth, you might do better by buying a fresh bottle and trying a Martini mixed to today’s proportions.  Last year when Dale DeGroff made me a Martini at Portland Cocktail Week, he used a 5:1 ratio. 

Now is the time to ensure you have all the ingredients handy for when Cocktail Hour rolls around.  Don’t forget glasses: the cocktail (a.k.a. “Martini”) glass is key to a good Martini.  Chill your glasses in ice or in the freezer (preferred) for five to ten minutes or longer.  Some of my favorite recipes follow and, in case you’re wondering, Martinis should normally be stirred, not shaken.  

Purists will tell you that the Classic Martini must be made with Gin, and who can deny it?  It’s always a dilemma to decide between Hendrick’s®, Bombay Sapphire® or Plymouth® Gin, so we tend to alternate.

Confirmed Martini lovers looking to expand their horizons may want to try a Vesper Martini.  Developed for Ian Fleming’s (at the time) latest James Bond book, Casino Royale, the Vesper is quite a drink, even if it’s shaken and not stirred.

Sad to say, some people just don’t like Gin. If you’re in this group, why not try a Vodka Martini?  Crisp and delicious, you can enjoy the Martini mystique without the Gin taste.

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