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The Wunderlich Clan Martini

Posted by Reese on 2008-07-15 @ 09:22pm

As a kid, whenever we went to any of my Mom’s family there was always a mysteriously frozen bottle of drinks in the freezer.  This bottle would come out in the evening and usually accompanied games of cribbage or talking in to the night.  I knew back then that these were the family recipe for Martinis but it never really sunk it at the time what that actually meant.  Shortly after I turned 21 I decided I would do some investigation myself about what the family Martini was all about.  At the time I remembered hearing that the recipe was 1:1:1 Gin:Vodka:Vermouth so I dutifully picked up the ingredients and mixed one up (warm, mind you).  Well, let’s just leave it at I missed some key points.  I quickly poured the drink out and vowed that my family was crazy and as such made horrid drinks.

Martini in the Sun

When we decided to cover the Martini this week the family Martini crept back into my mind.  I knew my family wasn’t totally crazy and further more know that they wouldn’t drink crappy cocktails.  So I asked my mom about the recipe.  This time I got the goods.  She had the recipe as dictated by my Uncle Jack, who is said to have originated this recipe, in our family at least.

Uncle Jack Wunderlich

Uncle Jack Wunderlich

Uncle Jack Wunderlich's Martini:
[Ingredients]
1 oz Gordon's London Dry Gin
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth
Olives for Garnish
[Directions]
1) Mix Gin, Vodka, and Vermouth over ice in a mixing glass
2) Stir to combine and chill
3) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
4) Garnish with olives

This drink blew my mind.  I made the Embury Martini De Luxe (pictured above) on Sunday with high quality Noilly Pratt Vermouth and excellent Plymouth Gin and garnished with Almond Stuffed Olives.  I even twisted a lemon over the surface of the cocktail.  Everything exactly as Embury dictated, and only felt the cocktail was so-so.  Can’t really put my finger on what I didn’t like, but suffice to say, it wasn’t my favorite.  My family’s recipe on the other hand seemed much more balanced to me and much tastier.

There are a few of reasons for this, I think.  First I used more olives, four in this case, two jalapeno stuffed, two citrus stuffed.  I got more of an enjoyable olive brine flavor coming through, though not so much as to call it a Dirty Martini.  Also, this recipe had more Vermouth in it.  Although most people would shudder at the thought of having more Vermouth, I rather enjoyed it.  Additionally the Vermouth I used was a cheaper and much more widely available brand, but yielded a cocktail I preferred. Interesting.  Finally, this recipe calls for one ounce of Vodka (in my case Monopolowa).  Vodka in cocktails dilutes the other spirits since it doesn’t have a flavor of its own.  So in this case it took a Martini with a 2:1 Gin:Vermouth ratio and cut the flavors by half.  For someone who generally loves Gin but tends not to drink it straight this was fantastic!

To test my theories I made another Martini tonight with a ratio of 2:1 Gin:Vermouth again using the Plymouth Gin and Noilly Pratt Vermouth.  It was better than the Embury recipe, but still wasn’t as good as my family’s recipe.  What I’d like anyone to take from this tale is that it’s all about experimentation.  Try different spirits, mixers, garnishes.  Drink what you like best.  In the end it doesn’t really matter what the classic recipe is if you don’t like it.

So in closing I toast my glass to all my family who has enjoyed this Martini recipe in the past.  I’m glad to be a part of the Wunderlich Clan.