There’s no denying it: the martini is a classy drink. It’s clean, simple and comes in an elegant cocktail glass. And for the most part, people look good drinking martinis (but don’t think for a second I’m talking about apple-tinis, choco-tinis or any other stupid fruity flavored cocktail that comes in a martini glass).
And I don’t even want to mention James Bond’s shaken vodka martini. 007 simply messed with one of the most elegant and perfect cocktails in the world. When you shake a martini, you aren’t integrating the elements in a way to create a smooth texture – you are doing the opposite. A shaken martini gets diluted too fast and gets too much air mixed into it. The result is a slightly frothy and watered down drink. Let alone the fact that the idea of a martini made with vodka is preposterous. But then again, deconstructing what a film character drinks is slightly absurd, but so is taking drinking advice from a fictional character…
The most well-known of cocktails, Western culture has created quite the lore and mythology surrounding the drink. The three-martini lunch became a popular phrase coined for expensive, long lunches taken by business executives. The famous and powerful people who have favored the simple, yet potent, original – Winston Churchill, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemmingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few – have only added to the lore of this popular classic cocktail. The first Martini – or Martini-like drink – was poured sometime between 1862 and 1871 and was called a Martinez, a name to honor the humble town of Martinez, California, where it was purportedly first dreamed up by bartender Julio Richelieu, proprietor of the eponymous Julio Richelieu Saloon. That similar (but sweeter) version of the cocktail consisted of sweet vermouth, gin, bitters and was garnished with a maraschino cherry. This version (which was essentially a gin Manhattan) eventually gave way to the more contemporary drier version that includes gin, vermouth and bitters and was supposedly first made popular when John D. Rockefeller started downing them at the turn of the 20th century.
At its most basic, a martini is gin mixed with vermouth, and stirred with ice. The ratios of gin to vermouth very much vary. The less vermouth in a martini, the ‘drier’ it is. Serve in what we now think of a martini glass, with either a little lemon peel (a ‘twist’) or an olive.
Chill the glass by tossing in a few ice cubes and filling it with water. Leave it that way for a few minutes, then dump the ice water and dry the glass with a dish towel.
Put in the dry vermouth and swirl it around so it coats the inside of the glass. Toss out the vermouth (We’re making a very dry martini, and that film on the inside of the glass is all we need)
Now, stir — don’t shake — the booze for about 10 seconds, strain into chilled cocktail glass, and garnish
Know your martini lingo:
Dirty (mixed with a dash of olive brine) / Wet (heavy on the vermouth) / Dry (not much vermouth) / A Dickens (served with neither an olive nor a twist) / A Gibson (served with two cocktail-size pickled onions) / A Franklin (served with two olives)