Frozen or chilled with ice water? As I said before, my perfect martini is ice cold. Anything that warms my martini is evil. OK, that may be a bit of hyperbole, but you get the idea. So when I see my barkeep pull my glass down from the overhead rack, throw some warm ice in it and fill it with tepid room temperature water, I just cringe.
I know that when the bartender pours that shaken ice cold martini into that glass it’s going to start warming up immediately. Why, because the glass is warm, not colder than 32 F and probably not even close to that.
But when the barkeep heads over to the freezer, not the fridge, but the freezer, and pulls out my glass I smile. I know that glass is going to be closer to O F and will keep my drink frigid.
Note to barkeeps, mix the drink first then pull the glass from the freezer. That way it doesn’t start to warm up while you’re mixing the martini.
This may be the second most discussed question about Martinis. As noted, my preference is a twist; when I drink Bombay. To me the lemon flavors compliment the herbs of Bombay while the saltiness of the olives seems to overpower the subtleties of the herbal notes.
However, if my barkeep of the moment doesn’t have a herbal noted Gin available, such as Nolet’s or Lavender, then I will ask for olives. They are a better contrast to those floral flavors.
It has always been my intent and desire to include in this blog reviews of the Martinis I have had at various restaurants and bars I visit. I have already posted my first review and I’m sure many readers are confused with my grading system. In that review I gave my maximum rating: Two Martinis. Which I’m sure is causing great consternation, after all what sort of lunatic would offer a maximum of two martins???
But relax friends, there is a method to my apparent madness. My grading system is pretty simple and, I believe, will cover the basics of what the aficionado really wants to know. So with great fanfare, here it is:
Worth a trip just to try the Martini
Ehh, I’m here, I’ll have drink
Order the wine
That’s it, very simple, concise, and fundamentally informative.
Please feel free to add your reviews, comments, and opinions. You don’t need to follow my rating system but I’d be honored if you do.
A few more thoughts on “Shaken vs. Stirred”…..
The most convincing argument I’ve heard in favor of a stirred martini is the silky mouth feel that I mentioned early.
The shaken drink tends to be aerated, at least at first, which gives it a different mouth feel. I will acknowledge that the feel of a stirred martini is awesome. But just as the aerated mouth feel of the shaken martini fades, so does the silkiness of the stirred. So for 84.5% of the time I’m savoring my martini, the mouth feel of the two mixing methods is identical.
Then it comes down to temperature and the shaken martin is always colder. Checkmate.
I have always hoped to add bar and restaurant reviews to this blog. I didn’t intend to start so soon but a recent martini prompts me to start sooner than I expected.
Recently in Philadelphia on business, I stopped in one of my favorite restaurants, Ocean Prime. Evan was my mixologist this evening. I ordered my preferred Martini – Bombay Sapphire with a twist. After discussing the proper proportion of Vermouth, Evan pulled a glass out of the freezer and I knew immediately this was going to be good. It was; very cold, shaken with exuberance, right proportions, and served in an ice cold glass.
For this Ocean Prime and Evan get my highest rating, two martinis.
As an interesting note, Evan introduced me to an awesome cognac; Le Reviseur. But that’s a different blog.
This is probably the most discussed issue about Martinis. The name on this blog clearly shows you where I stand on this subject. Here are two reasons why.
The stirred Martini, when properly executed, has a silky smooth luxurious mouth feel. So why do I prefer mine shaken? Note above that I said ‘when properly executed’. Sadly most barkeeps are not extensively trained and spend most of their time filling beer mugs for people who can’t spell Martini. Unless you’re in the presence of a master mixologist, a stirred Martini is a gamble. I’ll save gambling for something unimportant, like money.
Second, and more importantly, I like my Martini cold. Stirred drinks are just not as cold as a shaken drink. Yes, you do get a little more dilution with a shaken Martini, though that should be minimized if one uses Cold Ice. More on that later.
Ultimately it’s a matter of preference. Your Perfect Martini can be made either way, it’s your perfection. I’ll stick to the dependable, consistent, and cold shaken martini.
I think it only fair to let you, my dedicated reader, know my preferences. I order Bombay Sapphire Martini shaken with just a splash of Vermouth served in a very well chilled Martini glass with a twist of lemon.
I will occasionally order Bombay Sapphire East, when available. If so I skip the Vermouth entirely. If a lime wedge is offered I occasionally choose that over lemon but the difference is very subtle and either is excellent if fresh
Things that make a Martini special, other than an abundance of gin, include having it served ice cold, with freshly peeled garnish. Martini pet peeves include a small serving, excessive Vermouth, having it mildly chilled and/or diluted, and a stale or small twist
So what is the Perfect Martini? It’s often said that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and so it is with Martinis. My perfect Martini may not be the same as yours. Gin or Vodka, Shaken or Stirred, Olive or Twist? These are all personal preference and each may be part of your perfect Martini.
The perfect Martini is the one that not only quenches your thirst but causes one to stop, just momentarily after the first taste, the first savor, and not just experience the taste on the tongue, but feel it in the heart and soul. The first taste of the perfect Martini should feel like your first kiss.
I’m still searching for mine. It may be a long hard search over miles and years, but I’m up to it. I’ve dedicated my life to it, well this blog anyway.
For the sake of comparison, consider the Gimlet. It is a classic cocktail by all accounts with a well deserved following. While it is made of gin, it is not a Martini. Nor is the Tom Collins; despite its long and popular history.
Trendy variations abound: Appletini, Chocotini, Margaritini, Dirty Martini, etc. IMHO all of these are Kool-aid; sweet or flavored drinks with a touch of gin or vodka to appease the masses. These fruity flowery light weight bastardizations of the noble Martini will not be discussed, or tolerated, herein.
The only variations that will be discussed here will be the Vesper solely because of its history, source, and notoriety. And really, don’t we all have just a bit of 007 in us?
The concept of a “Perfect” Martini is often discussed and rarely achieved. What is it? How is it made?
Before we can discuss the “Perfect” Martini, we must define a Martini.
- Merriam-Webster: An alcoholic drink made with gin and vermouth; also: a similar drink made with vodka instead of gin.
- Dictionary.com: A cocktail made with gin or vodka and dry vermouth, usually served with a green olive or a twist of lemon peel.
- Oxforddictionaries.com: A cocktail made from gin (or vodka) and dry vermouth, typically garnished with an olive or a twist of lemon
So we can all agree that a Martini is a drink made from Gin or Vodka with a bit (maybe) of Vermouth topped with a twist of lemon, possibly lime, or an olive (or three).