The Perfect Martini Process, V1.0

Since this blog has existed I’ve advocated and supported the concept that your Perfect Martini is just that, yours.  My Perfect Martini is mine.  And the two may not be identical.   What is important is that we find that which works for each of us.

Having said that, I thought it time to share what I believe works best for me.  Interestingly over the course of the last year researching for this blog and writing about Martinis and Martini preparation my taste has ‘evolved’.  My preference has moved a bit drier and I’m garnishing with a twist much more often.  Lime if available.

Anyway, here is my process.  Note that I say ‘process’, not recipe.  The recipe is pretty simple:  3 ounces of chilled Bombay Sapphire Gin, a capful of Vermouth, and a twist.  But it is the process of putting that together that really makes the Perfect Martini.

The process starts with advanced preparation.  Put the bottle of Gin and your Martini stem in the freezer and the vermouth in the refrigerator.   IF you use a massive shaker, that should go in the freezer too.  This should be done well before you need to prepare the Martini.  (I just leave my gin in the freezer and vermouth in the fridge permanently.)

Then make the twist.  I always prepare the twist before the martini so that the martini doesn’t wait, and get warm, if I make the twist at the end of the process.  No, the twist will not wilt or dry out in the 90 seconds you make the Martini…. it will be just fine waiting for its grand entry at the end of the process.   This goes for olives, if you prefer them…. spear them before the martini.

Finally we start making the Martini proper.  Fill the shaker with about a cup of cold ice.   (See Cold Ice Please! for comments and description of “Cold Ice”).  Take the cap off the Vermouth bottle, fill it with Vermouth and put that in the shaker with the cold ice.  Swirl or shake the Vermouth and ice briefly and then drain the Vermouth.  Keep the ice, of course.

Next put 3 ounces of Bombay Sapphire Gin into the shaker.  (That’s 6 tablespoons or a 3/8 cup if you don’t have a jigger.)  Shake the shaker vigorously for about 10 seconds.   10 seconds is all you need to chill the liquid, any more and your just working your biceps, triceps, and delts.

Now, quickly remove the Martini stem from the freezer and pour the Martini from the shaker into the Stem.  Take the twist and lightly run the rind around the edge of the stem, squeeze a bit of the oils into the liquid, and drop it gently into the Martini.

Finally take the Martini out to the porch, sit comfortable, look at the sunset over the beach, and enjoy the Perfect Martini.

 

Random Martini Quote of the Day

“A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy.”
Noël Coward

 

For more fun Martini quotes check out the appropriately titled “Martini Quotes” page, or click the link: Martini Quotes.

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Martini Making Pet Peeves

Do you have a pet peeve regarding Martini Making?  I do, several.

Having now carefully observed many bartenders making my Martinis and, on occasion, taking notes I have come up with a few pet peeves on bartender’s Martini making processes.  Now, I’m not going to claim that any of these little nits actually make a difference in the taste of the Martini, but they sure do affect the enjoyment of the Martini.

My first, and by far the biggest, pet peeve is leaving my finished martini on the bar or prep station instead of giving it to me.  I can see that the Martini is done and yet there it sits over by the bartender instead of in front of me.  It’s getting warm and my tip is getting lower by the second.

I don’t care if your boss has a question.  Or the phone rings.  Or the bar-back needs guidance.  Or, god forbid, your spouse / GF/BF calls.  I’m the customer and my Martini should be delivered immediately upon completion.

The second pet peeve is similar to the first but not as egregious.  And that is the barkeep taking FOREVER to make the martini.  First walking to one end of the bar to get a martini stem before putting it down on the prep station.  Then looking around and getting  some ice to put in the stem.  Perhaps going to get some water to put on the ice in the stem.  Then walking to the far end of the bar to get the gin and bringing to the prep station.   Looking around for a jigger before walking over to the tool chest and finding it.  Finally mixing the Martini and then looking around for the garnish.  Oh, right, there isn’t one, so then we start the process of looking for a lemon to make the twist…..

Speaking of the garnish; pet peeve number three.  Get the garnish ready FIRST.  Put the olives on the toothpick or strip the twist off the lemon first.  You’ve properly shaken the gin and vermouth and poured into the chilled stem.  It’s all now perfectly mixed and nicely chilled.  But if you start working on your garnish now the Martini is just warming up.

Next Pet Peeve: Inadequately stirred Martinis.  As you know I prefer my Martini shaken, but I don’t ask for it shaken.  If the house policy is stirring, then I’m fine with that.  BUT, stir it enough to properly chill the Martini.  A quick 10 second stir is NOT enough.  It needs a good 60 seconds of stirring.  If you can’t take the time to properly prepare a stirred and chilled Martini then shake it.

Rarest Pet Peeve:  Not knowing how to make a Martini.  Enough said!

Final Pet Peeves.  This is for all the other little “tip killing” annoyances:
•Not knowing what Gins you stock.  Really?  There usually aren’t that many.  Or are Gin drinkers really that rare?
•Not knowing that you’re out of one of the Gins.  I’ll cut you a little slack here if you’ve just come on duty.
•Dirty stem.  Didn’t you look at the stem when you picked it up?  Didn’t you see the lipstick or left over chocolate on it?  Or did you just not care?
•Cracked stem.  Again, didn’t you look at the stem when you picked it up?
•Soapy stem.  Hey, I’m really glad you washed the stem, but next time please rinse it completely.

The Perfect Martini: Shaken or Stirred?

Shaken or Stirred?    Which is “Perfect”?

One of the eternal Martini questions!  Right up there with Dickens …. Olive or Twist?

I have written extensively in the past about Shaken vs. Stirred Martinis and thought a reminder might be appropriate for some of the newer readers, in case you missed it before.

There are four claimed differences between shaken and stirred martinis; temperature, dilution, “bruising”, and taste.  I’ve written extensively in the past on each of these and if you’re interested you can jump to the details via the links at the bottom of this article.

The bottom line is this:  The Shaken Martini will colder, more diluted, emulsified , and taste exactly the same.  Conversely the Stirred Martini will be less cold (hopefully not ‘warmer’), stronger, silky smooth, and taste exactly the same.

Notice that I’ve changed ‘bruising’ to ’emulsification’.  The term ‘bruising’ is really a misnomer and anyone using it should be ostracized immediately.  But shaking the drink does adds a zillion (roughly) little bubbles, also known to as emulsification.  This gives the drink a slightly cloudy appearance and changes the way it feels in your mouth.

So which is “Perfect”?   Read my Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Conclusion for all the intimate details and opinions.  (Disclaimer:  Its a tie.)

You can also jump to an overview of each of four elements at:
Temperature             Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Temperature
Dilution                       Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Dilution
Bruising                      Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Bruising
Taste                           Shaken vs. Stirred Revisited: Taste

 

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Random Martini Quote for the Day

“I’ve never tasted anything so cool and clean…They make me feel civilized,”   E. Hemingway in “A Farewell to Arms”

 

For more fun Martini quotes check out the appropriately titled “Martini Quotes” page, or click the link: Martini Quotes.

If you like these posts and want to be notified by email when they come in, please subscribe to the blog…. over on the left.  😉

A Brief History of Martini

The history of the martini is a murky one.  As one might guess with many alcoholic concoctions through time, things weren’t always written down.  This appears to be the case with the Martini.

Still, the history of the martini can easily be traced back to the late nineteenth century, when it was first listed in bar-tending manuals.  For example, the Martinez cocktail is referenced in the 1887 Bartender manual by Jerry Thomas, of the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco.  The “Martinez” is also detailed in an 1884 cocktail book by O.H. Byron, as “a Manhattan in which gin is substituted for whiskey.”

There are also a few historical references points from which we can at least set some boundaries.  Gin itself goes back to the 17th Century Holland, though ‘modern’ Gin started a bit later.  Gordon’s produced its first version of London Dry Gin in 1769 and Beefeater came along in 1862.  An Italian vermouth maker, Martini & Rossi, started marketing its product under the brand name Martini in 1863.

Still the exact location and date of the invention of the “Martini” is a bit confusing.  There appear to be 3 1/2 main conflicting story lines.  The first, and the half, is that the Martini originated in California.  The second that it originated in New York.  And finally that it was a marketing ploy.

The town of Martinez, CA, advertises itself as the birthplace of the Martini so we’ll start there.  It suggests that the drink in fact originated in a prominent bar in Martinez, where it was known as a “Martinez Special.” There it was served to a celebrating gold miner on his way to San Francisco, who, after enjoying the drink so much, delivered the recipe to San Francisco when he had to instruct a local bartender on how to make it.  That bartender is allegedly the “Professor” Jerry Thomas.

During the late 19th century Thomas was renowned around the US for his innovative bar-tending work, flashy techniques, and man-about-town demeanor.  He claims to have invented the cocktail himself while at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco.  He contended that it was for a gold minor on his way across the bay to Martinez and beyond to the California gold fields.  Thomas therefore named it in honor of this traveler.

Whichever of these may be true, or not, none-the-less Thomas is noteworthy for publishing the first seminal cocktail manual, The Bar-Tenders Guide. The aforementioned 1887 edition included the Martinez cocktail.  The recipe was:  a dash of bitters, two dashes of maraschino (a cherry liquor), a wineglass of vermouth (most likely sweet vermouth), a pony of Old Tom gin (a sweetened gin) and a quarter slice of lemon!

However that is nowhere near today’s gin and vermouth definition of a Martini.  So does that count as the invention of THE Martini?  Or just a predecessor?

Another interesting note about the California stories is the reference to the gold miner.  The California gold rush started in 1848 with the first ‘rush’ of incoming minors in 1849.  Hence the name ’49ers’ for the San Francisco American Football team.  The Gold Rush peaked in the early 1850s and was pretty much done by the late 1850s.  If these stories are to be believed that puts the date of invention firmly in the 1850-55 range.

Another theory promoted by some cocktail historians is that the Martini first appeared at the New York City’s Knickerbocker Hotel.  This hotel was, in the early 20th century, manned by bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia.  He claimed to invent the drink before World War I.   The story goes, he served a drink, a favorite of John D. Rockefeller, that blended London dry gin, Noilly Prat Vermouth, and orange bitters.

This is certainly a more Martini-like concoction and its likely, though  impossible to verify, that he named it after himself.  Its also very possible that di Arma di Taggia knew of the Martinez of California, perhaps from some returning Gold Miner?  Or even had acquired a copy of Thomas’ Bartender manual.   So its quite possible that both the West Coast and East Coast theories are, in fact, part of the natural evolution of the Martini.

Finally, some believe that the martini was named after the Martini and Rossi vermouth.  This seems to be an obvious source – customers ordering a gin and vermouth concoction at a bar would simply ask for a “gin and Martini.”   Given how simply drinks were labelled in the 19th centuries, it’s plausible that this got shortened over time to ‘Martini’.  Martini & Rossi, as part of their branding or marketing, would certainly have encouraged this transition.  This would be true even if the company didn’t invent the “Gin & Martini”.

Ultimately no one will know for certain who, when, or where the Martini came to be.  Personally I adhere to the gradual evolution idea.  Somewhere in California a Martinez was created.  Over time the drink evolved to the Martini, likely with a New York push which added a modern ‘cosmopolitan’ flair and aura.  And mostly certainly encouraged by Martini and Rossi.

 

 

 

Alcohol Diet!

Alcohol diet?  Is that a real thing?  Well, no, not really.  But it offers a starting point to think about our diet, and Martini, choices.

If you’re like most of us you’re probably ‘counting’ calories in one form or another.  Not necessarily keeping a daily diary of everything you eat, but most of us are aware that it takes 24 minutes of brisk walking to burn off the calories in one can of coke.   And an hour and 10 minutes to burn off the calories in one slice of pizza and a can of coke.

Each of us has our own idea of weight, exercise, and food balance. And we all make choices.  That’s true in our choices for adult beverages.

The standard 1.5 oz serving of 80-proof alcohol has 96 calories before you add any mixers.  Bombay Sapphire is 97 proof and has 114 calories.   So a dry martini would have approximately 100 calories, depending on Gin, number of olives (5 calories each, if that’s your choice), and whether its ‘wet’ or ‘dry’.

Comparing to other cocktails:  Gin & Tonic 187, Mai Tai 306, Pina Colada 320, Margarita 327, Rum & Coke 361, Mudslide 820

And how many calories in desert?  Chocolate Cake without frosting: about 352 , 1/2 cup Ice Cream 137 , 1/2 cup Chocolate Mousse 454 , and Creme Brulee 210.

So if you’re counting calories which would you pick?  Cake or Martini?  My choice is clear; I haven’t had dessert in a long long time.

 

The calorie numbers above are taken from various internet sources and are representative and for comparison purposes & humor.

ALWAYS Drink responsibly.
We do NOT endorse excessive alcohol consumption.
Know the law, know your limits: drink to the lesser of the two.

Makar Gin

While walking around Glasgow recently, I came across “The Good Spirits Co.”  and decided to stop in.  While I was intending to explore their Whiskey selection the discussion quickly turned to gins.

Much to my surprise our host, Victoria, offered us a few samples of locally produced ‘new’ Gins.  This was certainly something new to me!  I’ve never had this happen in the US.  Another fine attraction of Glasgow!

There were a couple of samples that were unimpressive.  One was a Barrel aged Gin which had a very distinctive taste and might appeal to some.  I made previous comments about Barrel Aging in “Craft Gin“.

One of the nicer Gins I tried was Jensen Gin, very much a “London Dry” style Gin.  This would likely work very well in a Martini and I will look out for that in a lounge or bar to validate that guess.

But the finest was Makar Gin.  I’m not really sure how to describe it other then delicious.  It uses only 7 botanicals, in addition to Juniper, but they meld together wonderfully.  A combination of earthy, floral, and citrus flavors combine in a bright clean Gin.

I sampled it neat, of course, but I think it would be excellent in a Martini.  I hope to try that very soon.

Unfortunately I was unable to purchase a bottle there as The Good Spirits Co. had just sold out their entire stock that morning.  Which is a fine comment on the quality of the Gin.

The Good Spirits Co.
23 Bath St., Glasgow
www.thegoodspiritsco.com

Craft Gin, the new trend?!?

It seems that these days there are boutique and small gin distilleries popping up all over.  Being a long term gin drinker I can recall the days when my choices at any typical bar were severely limited; Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay, and Gordon’s.  If I was lucky a bar might have Hendrick’s.

I generally applaud this renewed interest in Gin.  It gives me a lot of new flavors, tastes, and aromas to experience.  But it did get me thinking, there are a lot of new ‘twists’ on Gins these days and I’m not sure I like where some of them are going.

Barrel Aging!  Gin aged in Whiskey barrels?  Cognac Barrels?  Really?  Either of these treatments will certainly add color and different flavors to the Gin.  And, most likely, add a certain astringent taste to the Gin – what wine enthusiasts refer to as tannins.

The lack of clarity of these barrel age gins certainly would not appeal to a traditionalist.  And the tanninic taste I think will not go well with the fundamental juniper flavor required in all Gins.

But the other flavors that come from barrel aging may, or may not, indeed offer some surprises and pleasures.  I haven’t tried these yet, but I’m dubious.  I’ll withhold judgement, for now.

But Craft Gin?  Did gin becoming a trend?  Or, god forbid, a FAD?  I sure hope not, I’m about as anti-fad as they come.  I’d be really annoyed that some snot nosed runt of a frat boy thinks I just jumped on the Gin bandwagon last week.  When I’ve been drinking gin since …. well, you know.

There used to be a certain sophistication and ‘bon vivant’ feeling to ordering a ‘real’ Martini in a crowd of Vodkaphiles.  I’m going to miss that.

 

 

Happy Birthday Sir Sean Connery

Happy Birthday to Sir Sean Connery, the original, and in many minds, the best James Bond.  He is 85 today.

Connery is also the original voice behind my ‘Shaken, not Stirred’ theme on this blog.  I can’t speak for everyone else, but when I read these words, it’s Connery’s voice I hear in my head.