Home      About Me      Contact      My Family       Travels       The Kitchen       The Bar

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Martini

The second drink in my 2009 quest to learn to mix drinks properly was a lot of fun to research. Much like the Manhattan, there are many varieties of this popular cocktail. And all the sources I reviewed stated that their version was the only true Martini and all others were just variations of.

My favorite story was about a fighter pilot in WWII who always took a small kit of gin, vermouth, olives and a teaspoon with him on his missions in the South Pacific. When someone asked him about it he said that if he was shot down on an island, all he had to do was begin mixing a martini and someone would come out of the woods exclamining, "Now, that's not the right way to mix a Martini!"

The origins aren't clear for the Martini but many people think it's a variation of the Martinez that was popular in Martinez, CA in the 1870's. But it seems like an entirely different drink to me.

I made two versions of the Martini for David today. He requested a vodka martini but my research tells me that that is actually called a "Kangaroo". All martinis are made of gin according to the purists.

The secret to a Martini is the vermouth - it's what gives it its flavor. Martini lovers are passionate about the ratio of vermouth to gin/vodka. I was first introduced to the Martini when we lived in Mexico. My friend Lorie liked her vodka martinis very dry. "Martini de vodka, muy, muy seco" she would explain to the waiter. I am not sure that they make them "seco" enough in Mexico :)

And the stir vs. shaken question stirs debate as well. Again, those who know say that shaking "bruises" the gin. Traditionalists stir the drink with a lot of ice.

After you've made the gin vs. vodka, vermouth ratio, stir vs. shaken decisions - you have one more - olive, lemon twist, or onion? If you choose an olive, it should be stuffed with a nut or not stuffed at all. Never with pimento. The lemon twist is perfectly acceptable. If you use a pearl onion then it's properly called a "Gibson Martini".

I made a Vodka Martini with a lemon twist and a Gin Martini with an olive stuffed with an almond. While he liked the olive a lot, David did not care for the Gin Martini - the gin was overpowering again. Maybe it's the brand of gin we have on hand?

David's Swizzle Stick Ratings:
Vodka Martini with a twist - 5 swizzle sticks
Gin Martini - 3 swizzle sticks

Vodka Martini - 2 oz. vodka, 1/2 oz. dry vermouth, strip of lemon. Stir with ice cubes in a mixing glass and strain into a chilled Martini cocktail glass. Slide the lemon twist in.

Gin Martini - 2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. dry vermouth, olive stuffed with almond. Stir with ice cubes in a mixing glass and strain into a chilled Martini cocktail glass. Slide the olive in so as not to bruise the gin.

Again, I sipped them both but will leave them for David. I think I need to find something a little sweeter for my palate. On a final note, there may be something fundamentally amiss in blogging about The Martini on Epiphany Sunday. Thank you for the indulgence :)


Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Oops on that Epiphany Sunday thing, but you've got my mouth watering for a martini anyway.

I am not a huge gin fan myself, so I prefer a vodka martini. And I had no idea that was called a Kangaroo. Cute!

Scott said...

Oh, my martini recipe? A damn good vodka (like Grey Goose), a whisper of fresh vermouth (like open the bottle and wave it over the glass, then cork it and put it away), and a Peperoncini pepper. Delicious!