Cocktail Hacker

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The Martini

Posted by Reese on 2008-07-12 @ 11:45am

Surely everyone living in the age of James Bond movies, and books, has heard of James’ favorite cocktail, The Martini.  Now, at this point, I should mention that in the books James’ cocktail of choice is not, in fact, a Vodka Martini, Shaken, not Stirred, but a Vesper or one of a number of other cocktails.  However, since Smirnoff sponsored the filming of “Dr. No” in 1962 Bond has been drinking Vodka Martinis ever since.  Now, I’ll grant you that there is nothing wrong with a Vodka Martini and you can even shake it if you really want, but don’t confuse this drink with a Martini.

Cold Martini with Olives

Martini’s began their life in Califorinia near the turn of the 19th century.  Thought to be a derivative of the Martinez, the Martini as it was then is considerably different that what you’ll find today.  William Boothby’s recipe from his 1908 version of the book “The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them” is one of the first known recipes for the Dry Martini.

Boothby's Dry Martini Cocktail
1/2 Jigger Gin
1/2 Jigger Vermouth
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
1) Combine ingredients over ice
2) Stir well until thoroughly chilled
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
4) Squeeze a piece of lemon peel over the top and serve with an olive

This recipe mixes the Vermouth and Gin half and half resulting in a very Vermouth heavy cocktail.  Once Embury’s book rolls around you’ll note that the Vermouth has been reduced drastically.  Embury lists a number of recipe variations for the Dry Martini in his book but lists the Martini De Luxe as his favorite which is much drier at a 7:1 ratio.

Embury's Martini De Luxe
1 3/4 oz Gin
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
Twist of Lemon
1) Combine ingredients over ice
2) Stir to combine and chill thoroughly
3) Strain in to a chilled cocktail glass
4) Squeeze a twist of lemon over the drink to express the oils
5) Garnish with an olive (Embury recommends nut stuffed olives if available)

Some points to consider when making this drink.  When combining the ingredients you should stir the cocktail to make a Martini.  If you choose to shake instead you are actually making a Bradford.  Garnish a Martini with an olive, or to mix it up garnish with a pickled onion, but make sure to call this creation a Gibson.

After reading this far you’re probably wondering why most “Martinis” you get in a bar are made with Vodka rather than Gin.  The answer is fairly simple, Vodka has a less pronounced flavor which seems to appeal to people than Gin.  That said, please please please, do not call a Vodka Martini a Martini, it’s not.  And while I’m on a bit of a rant here let me request one more favor, just because you’re served (or serving) a cocktail in a cocktail (martini) glass, don’t feel the need to end it in -tini.  This just muddles the name of the Martini in people’s mind and they lose track of what a classic Dry Martini is all about.  Enough ranting, time for some drinking.

The ingredients you’ll want to snag for this week are below.

  • Gin
  • Dry (French) Vermouth
  • Olives
  • Lemon

You’ll also need a few basic tools which if you’ve been following along with us you likely have already.

  • Cocktail Shaker (Just the bottom half)
  • Strainer
  • Cocktail (Martini) Glass
  • Measuring Device (Jigger)
  • Bar Spoon (Or other stirring stick)

We’ll report back throughout the week on our investigations and on Friday we’ll summarize our findings and our favorite recipe(s).  Until then, enjoy your Martinis or the plentiful variants.