Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Martini

We (should) all know by now that James Bond was wrong and that good dry Martini should be made with gin and stirred.

The Martini is one of the most famous cocktails in the world for a very good reason, when built correctly it's marvelous! What passes for a Martini these days bears very little resemblance to the real thing however.

David A. Embury, a central and controversial figure in the early to mid-twentieth century bar scene, had six cocktails he said everyone must know how to make. (His book, "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" should be required reading for anyone serious about cocktails.) The Martini was #1.

It's worth noting that the recipe I've used below is also the same as the one he shows in his book as an example of what not to use. These were the days when vermouth was well on it'sway out of style, and desert dry became the fashion.

Earlier recipes call for as much as a 1:1 ratio of gin to vermouth which is too much for me. I do enjoy the texture provided by a high vermouth mix and find 2:1 to be a nice respite from the "ultra dry" mentality.

We finally seem to be coming out of the era when vermouth was a dirty word and "dirty" martinis reigned supreme. That's providing we're even talking about a gin and vermouth creation. I've seen entire books devoted to so called martinis with every name and combination imaginable, with none even closely resembling the real thing.

Honestly, vermouth is your friend, providing that it's fresh that is. (No kidding!)

The Martini comes in 2 basic variations. The dry Martini which uses dry (french) vermouth and the sweet Martini which uses sweet (Italian) vermouth.

The Gibson is an extra dry martini garnished with an onion and the Martinez, an older recipe that I'll write about soon, is most likely the granddaddy to them all.

Since this drink has been around since the close of the nineteenth century, many recipes are out there and it would be hard to choose one that was absolutely correct. Here's a recipe that I've found to be quite enjoyable.



2 oz London dry gin
1 oz dry vermouth (I like Noilly Pratt)
2 dashes orange bitters (Scrappy's is great here)

Instructions (same for all Martini's)

1. Fill your cocktail glass with fine or crushed ice to chill glass.

2. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with cracked ice.

Don't fill the mixing glass full of ice, 1/2 full is usually enough to cover your liquid.
3. Stir well.

4. Dump the ice from your newly chilled cocktail glass.

5. Strain the ingredients into your glass and garnish with lemon twist or an olive.

If making "on the rocks" skip steps 1 and 4 and simply strain into an old-fashioned glass that has been filled with fresh ice.


2.5 oz gin
.5 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
lemon twist or olive garnish

2.5 oz gin (Old Tom or London dry here)
.5 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters (optional here)
garnish with lemon twist or cherry

2.5 oz gin
.5 oz dry vermouth
garnish with 1 cocktail onion

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