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The Perfect Martini


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#1 LaNiña

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Posted 19 October 2002 - 11:23 AM

I'd like to make my beau a martini this evening, and I'm not very good at it. I myself like regular ol' Tangueray, and not Tangueray 10 or Bombay Sapphire - too much alcohol in those for me, too intense. So let's start with plain old gin, and go from there...

How much vermouth should I add, and how should I add it? I don't have an official shaker, but I have plenty of glass jars with lids, and plenty of strainers. Any particular vermouth recommendations?

Lemon peel? Olive? (I know that cocktail onions make it a Gibson). What kind of olives should I buy?

Shake it with ice, then strain, yes? How much ice, and how much shaking?

Chill the glasses in the freezer/fridge, or just put ice in them for a few minutes before I undertake the whole project?

Thanks, everybody.

#2 nightscotsman

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Posted 19 October 2002 - 12:00 PM

I'm not a big martini fan, but here are a few tips that I've picked up:

- chill the glasses in the freezer.
- the classic, original (pre-WWII) proportions are: 2 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth, but a more modern version would be 3 oz gin, 1/2 oz dry vermouth. Any less vermouth and you might as well just drink the gin straight.
- I like Noilly Prat dry vermouth.
- personally, I think Tangueray is too strongly flavored for a martini, but if you don't like Bombay Saphire, then I recommend trying Seagrams Extra Dry Gin.
- forget James Bond - stir, don't shake. shaking will make it frothy and cloudy and the ideal martini is crystal clear.
- pour gin and vermouth over lots of cracked ice and stir vigorously.
- I don't like olives, so I can't help you there.

#3 Dave the Cook

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Posted 19 October 2002 - 12:11 PM

Nina, I'm with you. For a martini, you want gin. Those overly refined liquids are for people who don't really like the taste of gin. Rather than Tanqueray, I prefer Bombay or Beefeater, or Boodles, when I can find it. Here's my recipe:

Makes 2

3 ounces gin
1-1/2 T dry vermouth (I like Noilly Prat, but Cinzano and even Martini and Rossi are fine)
Cracked, not crushed, ice
2 sections lemon peel with pith, about 1/4 x 1-1/2 inches
2 strips lemon zest, about 1/4 x 1 inch

1. Put some ice in two martini glasses and add water to fill.
2. Put a handful of ice in your mixing container. Add the gin and vermouth.
3. Shake a little more than gently for about five seconds (count it out--it's longer than you might think).
4. Empty the glasses and shake to dry. Don't get anal about it--a few drops of h20 will matter less than letting the glasses warm up.
5. Twist one lemon strip over each glass; this should deposit about one drop of lemon oil.
6. Strain half of liquid into each glass.
7. Curl the zest and float on liquid.
8. Drink.
9. Repeat as necessary. :blink:

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#4 phillaurie

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 10:49 AM

Ernest Hemmingway, an expert in these things, preferred a ratio of 15 to 1 Gin to Vermouth, and called it a Monty, after the British General Montgommery, because he would not attack unless he outnumbered the enemy by this ratio.

I like to fill a shaker with ice, pour in a small amount of vermouth, shake to coat the ice, pour off any free vermouth, add the gin, stir briefly and pour into chilled glasses. A lemon twist is all that is needed, perhaps some home made salted crisps. :wacko:

#5 Jason Perlow

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 10:58 AM

If you can find it Hendrick's makes a wicked martini.


Lemon peel? Olive? (I know that cocktail onions make it a Gibson). What kind of olives should I buy?

You mean a Gimlet.
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#6 Dave the Cook

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 11:05 AM

You mean a Gimlet.

Nina's correct. A Gibson is gin, dry vermouth and an onion.

A Gimlet is gin and lime juice (traditionally Rose's, which adds some sugar to the mix). Very tasty. Very dangerous. :blink:

Nina, aren't you going to tell us how it turned out?

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#7 Jason Perlow

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 11:10 AM

You mean a Gimlet.

Nina's correct. A Gibson is gin, dry vermouth and an onion.

A Gimlet is gin and lime juice (traditionally Rose's, which adds some sugar to the mix). Very tasty. Very dangerous. :blink:

Nina, aren't you going to tell us how it turned out?

Okay right. Thats what Philip Marlowe liked to drink, I think.
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#8 mixmaster b

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 12:55 PM

Much good advice given above. The recipes given are on the medium side. I prefer a drier Martini- about 1/2 teaspoon vermouth to 1 1/2 oz gin. This is a matter of personal taste, so some experimentation might be in order. The vermouth is definitely what makes it a martini.

I like shaken--the little ice splinters are much prized by many martini drinkers, though I think they are not part of the classic preparation. If your experiment goes well, consider getting a shaker. Good for many wonderful libations!

Regarding the olives vs lemon peel, let your Beau's taste be your guide. I think personal preference is in play again here. I prefer olives. Stick to the traditional green ones stuffed with pimentos--Santa Barbara Olive Co is a good brand.

For vermouth, Noilly-Pratt is a must. I like Tanqueray and Bobmay Sapphire for Martinis. Tanqueray 10 in too herbal, but tastes great in a gin and tonic. Must try Hendrick's. I have seen it in stores but never tried it.

I have a weakness for small glasses. The drink stays cold and you get to have another! :biggrin:

Actually, getting the drink really cold is probably the most important part--we keep our gin in the freezer.

Cheers!

#9 nightscotsman

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 01:31 PM

By the way I've read that the word "perfect" when used in the name of a cocktail is a bar term referring specifially to equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. So a "perfect martini" (as opposed to a "well ballanced martini) would use something like 2 oz gin, 1/4 oz dry vermouth and 1/4 sweet vermouth. A "perfect manhatten" would be 2 oz whisky, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth and a couple dashes of bitters.

#10 Dave the Cook

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 02:13 PM

"perfect" when used in the name of a cocktail is a bar term referring specifially to equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

This is true. I quit tending bar before the 'tini craze, but in five years behind the counter, I never had a customer order one. Try it and you'll see why.

Putting the gin in the freezer is a great idea.

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#11 stefanyb

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 02:26 PM

"perfect" when used in the name of a cocktail is a bar term referring specifially to equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

This is true. I quit tending bar before the 'tini craze, but in five years behind the counter, I never had a customer order one. Try it and you'll see why.

Putting the gin in the freezer is a great idea.

Lots of information has been given already. Here are my additions:

Dry vermouth is something that needs to be very fresh. To be absolutely safe, each time you serve martinis buy a new bottle of Noilly-Pratt and use the remaining for cooking.

Martinis that are preferred these days are extremely dry and require only a misting of vermouth over the top.

Ice chips are definitely what I look for floating on the top of the drink.

A slight brine back taste from the olive is a plus.

#12 jaybee

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 08:58 PM

Nina, it is hard to give you a recipe without knowing your beau's tastes for martinis. Gin Gin Gin for me. I make a 4:1 drink that the people I serve it to love. (some people like it less sharp so they make 3:1. I couldn't drink 2:1). I use either Bombay or Beefeaters. I find Saphire and the other real fancy gins have so many botanicals they lose that feeling of a cold blade across your throat, which is what I love in this drink. Keep the gin in freezer. I like oversized classic martini glasses, but with very thin glass. A good shaker is necessary. Measure your gin and vermouth. I prefer Noilly Pratt dry, but Martinin and Rossi dry is good also. Chill the glasses in the freezer an hour before use. Put the ocntents in the shaker with six or eight ice cubes, and shake vigorously until the contentds look cloudy. Take the glasses out of the freezer, put two to three green olives in them (on a toothpick if you want), and pour. Don't fill the glass to the rim, becuae it makes it hard to get it to your mouth for that important first sip without spilling some, which I hate. I love to have chunks of parmesan cheese and chorizo to munch on with a martini plus some very good chips (Cape Cod).

#13 LaNiña

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 09:30 PM

Thank you everybody! I did a little experimenting based on all the advice, and here's what we liked best so far:

I chilled the glasses in the freezer for an hour or so. I used Tangueray (not 10), which was in the fridge, and I bought Noilly-Pratt dry, and it wasn't refrigerated. I liked something just between 4:1 and 3:1 best. Cracked 10 ice cubes in a glass jar, measured the booze, put the lid on, and shook fairly vigorously for about 30 seconds. I took the glasses out of the fridge, put 3 olives in each glass (Spanish, green, pitted), and poured in the liquid. I have fairly large classically shaped martini glasses, so they weren't completely full, which is practical (as jaybee pointed out).

We had some sharp cheeses, some soppressata, and crackers with them. Just marvelous.

(P.S. For dinner, I made a Flemish beer stew from the new issue of Saveur, but I substituted venison for beef - try it, it was marvelous!)

Thank you!!!

#14 maggiethecat

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Posted 20 October 2002 - 11:18 PM

This is after the fact, because you've already martinied your sweetie. But the Martini is our house drink. I have little to add to the wise counsel above , but:

There is no shame...and a 15 minute pause before complete drunkenness, if you make a martini on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass.

You have your Seagram's (How glad I am that others on this thread have noticed that this medium-priced gin has the best martini taste!) in the freezer. Throw five cubes into each lowball glass. To each glass add three ounces of gin. Grab the vermouth(I like M&R or NP), pour a measure into the bottle's cap, and pour this measure atop the gin. To heck with shaking or stirring. Twist of orange peel. Feet on the coffee table, tune on the stereo, you're wearing good perfume, you've both had a long day. Breathe those fumes in and out, Ahhhhh.

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#15 col klink

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 08:25 PM

By the way I've read that the word "perfect" when used in the name of a cocktail is a bar term referring specifially to equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. So a "perfect martini" (as opposed to a "well ballanced martini) would use something like 2 oz gin, 1/4 oz dry vermouth and 1/4 sweet vermouth. A "perfect manhatten" would be 2 oz whisky, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth and a couple dashes of bitters.

Thanks for the perfect idea nightscotsman. I don't drink as many manhattans as I used to because they're on the sweet side for me, even without the cherry. Personally I never liked the cherry, bleah. I like mine with Black Velvet and Martini and Rossi dry vermouth. I haven't tried Noilly-Pratt, now I will along with a perfect manhattan.

I like Tanq 10 for my martini's and I like them shaken as I like the hopefully, very few ice crystals and the cloudiness. As for the ratio, it's probably around 15:1, just a couple of drops of dry vermouth for me thank you very much. Big green olives are my favorite, they soak up the most the gin. I just love eating a gin soaked olive after I've finished the drink, that's dinner! Of course, I have an "emergency" jar of olives in the fridge at all times, 'cause you never know when the urge for a martini will hit you.

#16 mickblueeyes

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Posted 21 October 2002 - 09:12 PM

The perfect martini only contains gin and some olives. Or as Churchill liked his martinis--fill a glass with chilled gin and look at a bottle of vermouth.

If you must have vermouth, add some to a martini glass, swirl it around, pour it out and shake the glass--then add the gin.

#17 Deacon

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 12:36 AM

- the classic, original (pre-WWII) proportions are: 2 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth, but a more modern version would be 3 oz gin, 1/2 oz dry vermouth. Any less vermouth and you might as well just drink the gin straight.

I heartily agree, nightscotsman. It's the vermouth (N-P if possible) that makes it a cocktail. The vermouth dilutes what would otherwise be straight gin, and the melted ice from vigorous shaking dilutes it even more. Shake it in a metal shaker until it gets so cold it hurts to hold onto it, which won't take long.

Straight gin served in a martini glass is not a cocktail. (No Noel Coward points awarded.) Anything less than, say, 4:1 and you might as well fill a water glass full of the stuff, chug it like beer and then admit yourself into the Betty Ford clinic. If you can still walk and speak. :biggrin:

#18 LaNiña

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 01:18 AM

Yes, I was thinking that as I was experimenting. If there's *so* little vermouth, it's not a cocktail, not a martini - it's a glass of cold gin with olives (or lemon peel or whatever) in it.

#19 mickblueeyes

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 03:46 AM

LOL! What do you guys think a martini is?? It is a kosher way to order straight gin without looking like a boozer. It's not commonly a cocktail and 90% of real martini drinkers drink them with so little vermouth that it is bascially straight gin (or vodka) with olives. The people that drink chocolate martinis and martinis with 4:1 gin to vermouth ratios don't like martinis, they like to be seen drinking martinis, but can't handle the liquor.

#20 Damian

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 12:11 PM

While I don't mind a martini with vermouth in it, mick is correct that tastes run to the very, if not utterly, dry these days for vodka and gin martinis. My best friend is bartender (yeah, I know, but I knew him before he got the job) who swears that he does not even pretend to add vermouth to a martini unless it is specifically requested - only on the very rarest of occasions is one sent back.

#21 nightscotsman

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 12:47 PM

While I don't mind a martini with vermouth in it, mick is correct that tastes run to the very, if not utterly, dry these days for vodka and gin martinis.  My best friend is bartender (yeah, I know, but I knew him before he got the job) who swears that he does not even pretend to add vermouth to a martini unless it is specifically requested - only on the very rarest of occasions is one sent back.

On the other hand, I think many people who order martinis would be too scared of appearing "uncool" to send one back. When I had a cocktail party a couple years ago, one person wanted a "totally bone-dry" martini - "just wave the vermouth bottle over the gin". I used the 3 oz to 1/2 oz ratio and he said it was best martini he had ever had. People don't know what the hell their drinking.

Remember - dry vermouth is completely dry. Adding more won't make anything sweeter.

#22 Ron Johnson

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 01:33 PM

I chilled the glasses in the freezer for an hour or so.  I used Tangueray (not 10), which was in the fridge, and I bought Noilly-Pratt dry, and it wasn't refrigerated.  I liked something just between 4:1 and 3:1 best.  Cracked 10 ice cubes in a glass jar, measured the booze, put the lid on, and shook fairly vigorously for about  30 seconds.  I took the glasses out of the fridge, put 3 olives in each glass (Spanish, green, pitted), and poured in the liquid.  I have fairly large classically shaped martini glasses, so they weren't completely full, which is practical (as jaybee pointed out).

We had some sharp cheeses, some soppressata, and crackers with them.  Just marvelous.

Flawlessly done, and very nice accompaniments as well. If you keep it up you will have to get a cocktail shaker. I agree with you on Bombay Sapphire, too many botanicals, tastes like Pine-Sol. I would like to hear what you think about other gins such as Beefeater and Boodles, when you have a chance to try those.

I think tonight I will shake up some perfect Manhattans. :smile:

#23 hollywood

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 01:48 PM

If you use a black olive, you get what Wambaugh calls The Black Marble.
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#24 MsRamsey

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 02:45 PM

I would like to hear what you think about other gins such as Beefeater and Boodles, when you have a chance to try those.

I like Beefeater's, but it's a very salty gin.
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#25 nightscotsman

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 03:02 PM

If you use a black olive, you get what Wambaugh calls The Black Marble.

I've actually read this is called a "Buckeye".

http://www.digsmagaz...tiniprimer3.htm

#26 Damian

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 03:06 PM

Ever have a martini (or gibson) with those olives (or pearl onions) marinated in a bit of vermouth that you can buy now? Pretty good in lieu of adding vermouth separately and make for a nice dry martini.

#27 hollywood

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 03:13 PM

If you use a black olive, you get what Wambaugh calls The Black Marble.

I've actually read this is called a "Buckeye".

http://www.digsmagaz...tiniprimer3.htm

Appears to be so, however, when Wambaugh was drinking them at a place called Monaghan's in Pasadena, they were called Black Marbles. In fact, I think he wrote a book with that title.
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#28 col klink

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 03:28 PM

Ever have a martini (or gibson) with those olives (or pearl onions) marinated in a bit of vermouth that you can buy now?  Pretty good in lieu of adding vermouth separately and make for a nice dry martini.

I used to replace my olive brine with vermouth because I was too cheap to use gin. But it never occured to me at the time to use cheap gin in the olives and good gin in the drink. Anyway, I liked my martinis with vermouth olives and I certainly liked the idea of vermouthing my olives, I've just fallen out of practice.

#29 Deacon

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Posted 22 October 2002 - 03:52 PM

LOL! What do you guys think a martini is?? It is a kosher way to order straight gin without looking like a boozer. . . . The people that drink . . . martinis with 4:1 gin to vermouth ratios don't like martinis, they like to be seen drinking martinis, but can't handle the liquor.

Well, to each his own, I guess. Three jiggers of watery gin with a jigger of white wine added is still pretty damn potent in my book. Try a couple in the afternoon when you haven't had any lunch and then tell me you don't think they're effective.

The "kosher" martini would undoubtedly be three jiggers of gin in a martini glass--with a garnish of a kosher pickle on the end of a toothpick instead of an olive. Nah, that would never work: the pickle would take up too much room in the glass and you wouldn't have any room for the gin. . . . :biggrin:

#30 mixmaster b

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Posted 23 October 2002 - 06:49 PM

There is no shame...and a 15 minute pause before complete drunkenness, if you make a martini on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass.

Maggie, I am with you on this. A Martini on the rocks is quite civilized. Especially when you are in the mood to sip a bit more slowly. Watery it may be, but there is nothing worse than a warm Martini!