Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

LaNiña

The Martini

Recommended Posts

I don't know how to drink Hendricks except with an onion. An olive or a twist cover up all those lovely subtle aromatics for me. But it makes a fine Gibson or an excellent Gimlet with homemade lime cordial.

Katie,

Thanks for the suggestion of using Hendricks for a Gibson. I had assumed that the onion would work against it, but tried it and found that it works great.

By the way, I am also partial to Bluecoat, but that might be due to my hometown allegiance since I grew up in the Philly burbs. Still, I find it a solid, well-made gin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other legitimately respected and objective non-hometown voices have had good things to say about the Bluecoat, so I don't think it's just those of us with the Philly roots singing its praises. It's fared well in tastings in Diffords Guide, the New York Times and Imbibe magazine. We aren't just baying at the moon here. It's really tasty gin, if a different style than London dry...

The Hendricks Gibson was sort of an accidental discovery when I was trying to convince a customer to use better gin with the good vermouth soaked onions I had on hand for his Gibson. A quick taste with a straw convinced me I was on to something. I already knew I didn't want to sully those lovely cucumber and rose aromatics with something that would stomp them into oblivion. The onion, on further analysis, seems a natural choice with the cucumber, without obliterating it. Gotta have good cocktail onions though. Those common pickled mothballs just won't do. I can't remember the name of the brand of onions we had at the bar at the time, but they were larger and soaked in vermouth. I'm hoping to source some baby cippolini onions so we can brine/vermouth soak our own onions for Gibsons at my new bar.

MattJohnson, you'll be welcome to belly up for as many oyster shot variations as you can handle as soon as Oyster House opens back up in 3 weeks or so...

edited to add:

The cocktail onions I had at the time were the Sable and Rosenfeld "Tipsy Onions". They're definitely worth seeking out.


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bluecoat is wonderful stuff with a more than passing similarity to the flavor profile of Tanqueray Malacca (to my palate anyway). That said, I've never tried it in a martini...yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an interesting article on martinis from the San Francisco Chronicle: Martinis -- It's all about technique

The gin martini is about the courtship between two complex ingredients. That deceptive minimalism makes it a triumph of technique. So we convened one afternoon at the bar at San Francisco's Fifth Floor, where [Jacques] Bezuidenhout consults, with a long line of gins and vermouths. For wisdom and stirring help we invited three other San Francisco bar wizards: Marcovaldo Dionysos, who established the cocktail program at Clock Bar on Union Square; Eric Johnson of Delarosa in the Marina and the forthcoming Bar Agricole; and Ryan Fitzgerald from Beretta in the Mission District.

The bar top was crowded with gin and vermouth, a thermometer, a stopwatch, a cooler of chilled glasses and an afternoon to kill.

"This is the revenge of the martini nerds," Bezuidenhout said.

The variables to be found in a simple martini soon become unwieldy. It's a fine task to match up gins and vermouths - and one we undertook with solemnity and sacrifice. In a few short hours I witnessed an English novelist's worth of gin poured down the drain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I usually have my Martini's 'naked', but when using Hendricks the cucumber really works well, saying that i just float it on the top of the drink - it doesn't get muddled or shaken in with it.

I have even tried a GnT with Hendricks and used the cucumber in place of the lime/lemon - again it works a treat.


Edited by alm (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read the article and, suitably inspired, constructed Martinis according to the author's recommendations (5:1 gin:vermouth, stirred, not shaken) last night. Verdict: very good.

We now have a good incentive to try some different vermouths (we tend to get the extra-dry Martini [brand] because it's there, but I know there are others available at my favourite shops).

I happened to have some El Bulli-style spherified olives lying around and dropped one in each glass. Now THAT was a taste at the end, once they'd been soaking up the drink for a while!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I find 5:1 too lean for my tastes. I'm most likely to have mine 1:1, or 3:1 at the most.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I find 5:1 too lean for my tastes. I'm most likely to have mine 1:1, or 3:1 at the most.

I have always felt the same way and considered it a personal failing - I love gin cocktails, but am not particularly interested in drinking straight gin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally I find 5:1 too lean for my tastes. I'm most likely to have mine 1:1, or 3:1 at the most.

Best part about 1:1 Martinis is the ability to have several of them, without any danger of becoming involved with either the table or the host. And with some fresh Dolin or 'Heirloom' N-P it tastes pretty damn good too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've even been known to partake of the occasional "reverse" Martini at around 1:2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've even been known to partake of the occasional "reverse" Martini at around 1:2.

Agreed that's a fine drink though if the vermouth in question is that fresh and that good I'm more likely to go the Bamboo route or maybe even just on the rocks with a twist. I drank a frightful amount of vermouth on the rocks this last summer, and didn't regret it one bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've even been known to partake of the occasional "reverse" Martini at around 1:2.

Agreed that's a fine drink though if the vermouth in question is that fresh and that good I'm more likely to go the Bamboo route or maybe even just on the rocks with a twist. I drank a frightful amount of vermouth on the rocks this last summer, and didn't regret it one bit.

I've always liked a 1:1 ratio in my martini, but worried it meant I was unsophisticated :)

I'll have to try a 1:2 ratio but I am wondering what the "Bamboo route" is?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a big fan of the 1:1, but with the new NP I'm liking 2:1 better with most gins. The Bamboo is a great aperitif drink--it's not too high powered and oh so dry:

1 1/2oz dry vermouth

1 1/2 sherry (I use a Fino)

2 dashes orange bitters (I like Regan's for this one)

2 drops Angostura

stir, strain, up

lemon twist (or twist lemon, discard and add a good olive)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a big fan of the 1:1, but with the new NP I'm liking 2:1 better with most gins. The Bamboo is a great aperitif drink--it's not too high powered and oh so dry:

1 1/2oz dry vermouth

1 1/2 sherry (I use a Fino)

2 dashes orange bitters (I like Regan's for this one)

2 drops Angostura

stir, strain, up

lemon twist (or twist lemon, discard and add a good olive)

What he said, though I'm partial to this kind of thing on the rocks. No olives for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never thought of trying it on the rocks--I'll have to give it a shot. I'd say 4 out of 5 times I skip the olive, but sometimes it hits the spot for me. Then again, I also don't keep olives around the house unless I'm cooking with them (I don't like them at all in my Martini) so its rare I've even got one to use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've even been known to partake of the occasional "reverse" Martini at around 1:2.

I think I've mentioned before that I often turn to a reverse Martini as the perfect thing before dinner if I want more than an ordinary glass of wine but something not as strong as a full-on Martini on an empty stomach. If the vermouth is good, it can be a surprisingly enjoyable drink.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An elementary question about the underlying theory of the martini.

We all know that you'd never store a martini, even for a few days in the refrigerator. But why, exactly, is this a lousy idea?

* People keep gin and vermouth on the shelf for months.

* People *do* mix things and save the result. Some people who like perfect Manhattans bottle their preferred mix of sweet and dry vermouth without causing harm to their palate or reputation.

* Lots of liqueurs -- including vermouth -- are themselves solutions and mixtures. And people put neutral spirits in all sorts of things without doing much harm.

The vast literature against holding martinis, my own experience, and the absence of an established "vermouthed gin" product strongly suggests to me that this isn't just a custom or a myth, that there's something going on that involves a reaction between something in the vermouth and something in the gin. What is it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I imagine it's a lot more simple than all that.

1. Vermouth is much more volatile than gin. You can tell the difference between a vermouth bottle that has been open for a few hours and one that is freshly opened. Gin, on the other hand, stays the same for a much longer period of time.

2. It's possible that some aspects of the vermouth might be lost or changed by being in a high % ABV solution for a long time. This is fundamentally different from mixing two similar ingredients such as sweet and dry vermouth.

3. People are very particular about the amount of vermouth in their Martini, so why be limited?

4. There is always the risk of the mixture picking up odor or flavor in the refrigerator.

6. The mere act of mixing the spirits and putting them into a bottle or other container will oxidize them.

7. The real reason, I think, is probably because it's not exactly complicated to mix up a Martini, so why tie up a bottle of gin pre-mixed with vermouth? All that means is that you can't use the gin or the vermouth for anything else.

There have been companies selling bottled Martinis, by the way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to mention bartenders like Tony Conigliaro and Jeffrey Morgenthaler experimenting with aged Manhattans. It seems natural enough to extend the concept to the Martini. What would a cask-aged Martini taste like? Who knows, but I sure wouldn't turn it down if it was offered to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Noilly Prat is aged in oak casks presumably further aging the martini in a cask would intensify the characters associated with using this vermouth rather than a non cask-aged vermouth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only reason I wouldn't do it is flexibility. Sometimes I want more/less vermouth depending on the gin. Sometimes I want a different gin. Not only is it not that hard to make a martini, I like doing it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a difference between aging and storing. Aging a Martini in a cask could be interesting. There historically were some gins that had some barrel age on them. But, again, it's hard to imagine what would be gained over simply aging the gin by itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can only add this quote from Bernard DeVoto. In my opinion, the man was wrong about many things (though he wrote beautifully while being so), but I agree with this 100%:

"You can no more keep a martini in the refrigerator than you can keep a kiss there. The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth and one of the shortest-lived. The fragile tie of ecstasy is broken in a few minutes, and thereafter there can be no remarriage. The beforehander has not understood that what is left, though it once was a martini, can never be one again. He has sinned as seriously as the man who leaves some in the pitcher to drown."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In fact, I was thinking of this passage in DeVoto when I asked the question in the first place.

In particular, DeVoto quite clearly envisions making pitchers of martinis for your guests; the proportion of vermouth and the choice of gin, then, are fixed for the crowd. He assumes that you have good taste and that your friends will share it. If not, he is quite ready to suggest that they are not really worth knowing.

And yet he is quite clear in asserting that you must serve the entire pitcher promptly, and that any remainder should be discarded before mixing a fresh round. "The fragile tie of ectasy is broken in a few minutes."

Where else in cooking would we say this? I can think of a few obvious cases:

- thermally unstable preparations (souffles; Alinea's truffle explosion)

- air-sensitive wines (some very old wines may be drinkable for a few minutes but oxidize almost immediately on being served)

- physically-unstable suspensions (emulsions that break, sausages that dry out if held too long; unrested meats)

- slow reactions (chopped vs mashed garlic; bruised fruit; oxidized avocado; coriander/anise/licorice conversion)

I would have assumed, like slkinsey above, that we're chiefly concerned about protecting volatiles in vermouth. But while fresh vermouth is doubtless better than stale vermouth, people like DeVoto go to great lengths to emphasize that martinis must be FRESH but never tell you to purchase fresh vermouth. Julia Child recommends cooking with vermouth because it remains fresh longer than white wine. Certainly, you can open a bottle of vermouth, enjoy some now, enjoy it again week later, and think nothing of the matter. You probably wouldn't do this to a Chablis.

I notice, too, that one of the aromatics associated with vermouth is coriander, and coriander does have tricky decomposition properties -- for example, stale coriander leaves develop licorice aromas.

I'd be interested in opinions from people with better palates than mine as to whether a freshly-made martini does taste differently from one mixed, say, an hour previously and held (with *external* ice -- not diluted!).


Edited by Eastgate (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×