The Perfect Martini “How To”s Collected


Over the course of the almost two years that I’ve been writing this blog I’ve posted many random martini quotes, several reviews of restaurant and bars, made opinionated comments about stemware, and expounded on my pet peeves.  And, of course, I’ve also written extensively on what I believe makes a great Martini.  But these “How To” posts are scattered throughout this website and are hard to find.   No Longer!

Here, finally, is a compendium of links to the “How To” articles of Martini Making.  These describe my thoughts and beliefs of making the “Perfect Martini”.  Or to be most precise, my perfect martini.   The posts describe more than just the recipe and process of assembling the finest cocktail, but give some of the technical background of ‘what’ and ‘why’.

So here below for the first time are assembled the heart of Martini Magic…..

Here’s where we start, the art of creation:
The Perfect Martini Process

This link will help you find the answer to the age old question that keeps us awake at nights …. is Shaken really better than Stirred?   And why?
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Conclusion.

If you just want to really know what they mean when some Gin snob warns you about ‘Bruising’, here’s the real deal.  (Hint; its not what you think.  But then, it’s not what they think either!)
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited : Bruising

Are there really differences between Shaking and Stirring??? Yes!  And here are the two most significant differences.
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Dilution
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Temperature.

Finally, does Shaking taste better?  Read below to find out.
Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste

Cold Ice is critical to making the perfect Martini.  If you’re confused about the difference between warm and cold ice, check this out.
Cold Ice Please!

Of course a great Martini needs a suitable container from which to sip this marvelous beverage.   Here are a few thoughts on stemware.
Thoughts on Stemware, Part One
Thoughts on Stemware, Part Two
Thoughts on Stemware, Part Three
And even…..
To Stem or Not to Stem

As always, comments are very welcome.  Please let me know what you think especially if you disagree with my comments.

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Do All Hotel Bars Suck??

OK, maybe I should ask ‘do all business hotel’s bars suck?’

I’m sure there are divine resorts out there somewhere on a moonlit beach that serve awesome never-to-be-forgotten martinis.    And exquisite penthouse bars topping luxury hotels in the cosmopolitan centers of the world that serve flaming ice cold martinis in giant stein sized stems.  You know, the places with Astons parked outside, topless Victoria Secret models lounging at the pools, and where cognac or champagne ads are perpetually being filmed.

Most of us mere mortals do not stay at these places on business or even family vacations. No, most of us business travelers are not CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, or C ‘pick a title’ Os.  We are are the road warriors that do real work for our companies.

We end up at the Hampton/Courtyard/Ramada/Howard Johnson/Four Points.  And if they have a bar, they just suck.   But what do you after 8 hours of flying in two, or more, aluminum cans and you finally get to the hotel at 9:47pm??  Go out looking for a decent bar??

You grimace, sigh heavily, and go down to the local hotel bar and order a drink.   Then you pray.  Pray that the local beer slinger knows what a martini is.   Pray that the local concept of a DRY martini is not a 2 to 1 ratio!!!  In either direction.  O.o  Pray that they know the difference between a twist and a slice, or worse a wedge, of lemon.

YES, I have experienced each of these disgraces to the noble Martini.   And many more.  I’ve previously detailed some of these experiences of my Martini pet peeves which you can see in my previous post, ingeniously named Martini Making Pet Peeves.

This is why I try very hard to stay at the local big city hotels when I travel, much to my boss’s amusement.  Even if I have to drive an hour into ‘the sticks’ to get to my meeting.  In the city I have a much better chance to find a good bar that knows how to make a good Martini.

Driving an hour to work in the morning is better than an evening with a bad martini!  If I just had an Aston it would be two hours!

Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Temperature

I’m baaaaack.  (Think Schwarzenegger!)  After the recent consecutive holidays (World Gin Day & National Martini Day) I took a couple of days off.  But I’m back with more thoughts and, of course, more martini reviews.

Since I’ve had this blog going, I’ve had a number of conversations on Shaken vs. Stirred.  The two camps appear to be composed of dedicated committed adherents to their particular beliefs.  But all my discussions have been lighthearted and fun.   Ultimately we are all more alike in our love for Martinis than different in our choice of technique.

Past posts detail my thoughts on this topic and I don’t want to deprive you of the pleasure of reading each one in detail.  ( Shaken or Stirred?? and Shaken or Stirred, Part Two )  But I thought I’d elaborate on the main differences between the two mixing methods.

However in an effort to keep my posts a reasonable length, I’ve found that I’m going to have to separate these thought into manageable bites.  There will be a couple more posts coming along in the same vein very shorty.  But first up:

The conventional wisdom is that shaken cocktails are colder than stirred.  This is because there is more agitation when shaken.  Furthermore, shaking the drink also causes the ice to break up, increasing ice surface area.  If the barkeep is vigorously shaking, as opposed to just sort of waving the shaker around, there will be more shards of ice created, and more surface area.   As we know, thermal energy flow is a function of surface area, so more area – more cold.

But wait, thermal energy transfer is also time dependent.  Starting with the same mass of ice at the same starting temperature and Martini mixes at the same temperature, then the colder drink might well be the one that is mixed longer.   A barkeep who nicely sirs the Martini for 30-45 seconds may produce a colder Martini than one who is very busy and just shakes the mix for 5-10 seconds.  If you keep the mixing time constant, only then will the shaken cocktail certainly be colder than the stirred.

Of course, starting temperature of the ice is also very important.  The colder ice may trump the stirring / shaking time.  You can see my comments on Cold Ice in a prior post.

Advantage?  I’d call this a draw.
The ultimate temperature of your drink is very dependent on the Barkeep and his ice.  How much time she or he puts into mixing the Martini, the starting temperature of the ice, and how vigorously the mix if shaken.

Happy Father’s Day – June 21, the Summer Solstice

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there.  I hope you enjoy it with your Perfect Martini, whatever that may be, or another favorite Cocktail.

For all the non-fathers out there looking for a good excuse to celebrate, June 21 is also the Summer Solstice!   The longest day of the year, in the Northern Hemisphere.


Bar Review: The Grill on the Alley, Westlake Village, CA

The Grill on the Alley is located hidden in the back of a shopping complex.  You have to drive past several other beckoning restaurants.  But don’t be distracted, the Grill is where you want to be.

I’ve been here a few times and the food it always superb, the service is excellent, and the atmosphere is friendly and open.   The roast beef was particularly noteworthy.   Definitely worth a visit for that alone.

But I’m here for the Martini.  And, as you’ve seen in past reviews, the food isn’t necessarily an indication of the Martini.

But today it is.  They serve a great martini, really excellent.  The stem was wonderfully frozen, the Martini very dry, well shaken, and served promptly before the stem started to warm up.  Matthew was engaging while staying professional.

B+ for selection: Citadelle, Nolet’s, Tanqueray, Tanqueray Ten, Bombay, Bombay Sapphire, Boodles, Hendrick’s, Beefeater.  I think just a few more selections, including something a bit ‘unusual’ or rare, would push this into the “A” category.

Martini Glass UprightMartini Glass Upright

*****   Rating Definitions   ****

Bar Review Suggestions?

Do you have a favorite Restaurant or Bar for which you would like a Martini review?  Something elegant or a ‘hole in the wall’?   Oceanfront view or a dive bar?  Let me know and I’ll make every effort possible to visit and report.

As most of my readers have probably surmised by now, I frequent the Los Angeles / Orange County and Philadelphia areas periodically.   Review requests in these areas will get the quickest response, but any requests will be honored as soon as is feasible.


Check out our ‘sister’ Shaken Not Stirred site on Twitter @Shkn_Nt_Strrd

May 20: 30 Days to National Martini Day

The countdown continues unabated, only 30 days until National Martini Day.   Time to start planning your festivities.

Check out our associated twitter feed for fun martini and ‘good life’ related posts: @Shk_Nt_Strrd

May 13: Happy World Cocktail Day

Toady is World Cocktail Day!

Why today?  Accepted lore?   Almost: the date coincides with the earliest use of the term “cocktail” in the May 13, 1806 edition of the The Balance and Columbian Repository.  Therein the article defined a cocktail as ‘a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind – sugar, water, and bitters.’

Though there may have been earlier references to the word ‘cocktail’, The Balance and Columbian Repository appears to be the first to define it as a drink.

I hope everyone will have a Martini, or other libation of your choice, to celebrate this special Day.


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Shaker Thoughts

Glass shakers vs. Metal shakers?  Which is better?  I think part of the answer depends on whether you store the shaker in the freezer (or fridge).

If you store it in the freezer then the greater thermal mass of the glass shaker will help you chill the martini as you shake it.  The typical metal (aluminum or steel) shaker is pretty light with little thermal mass.  So freezing it would add little chilling the drink when shaken.  Furthermore a ‘warm’ metal shaker will give up very little heat into the martini when shaking.  If you’ve got a metal shaker I’d save the freezer space for more important things, like ice cream.

I use a metal shaker.  I’ve dropped it several times while cleaning and I’d shudder to think what would happen if it were glass.


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