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LaNiña

The Martini

280 posts in this topic

There are two things I think are essential to a real martini that are often misunderstood.

1. It must have enough vermouth. We have all seen recipes that call for a 15:1 ratio of gin to vermouth or instructing one to coat the ice with vermouth and pour off the excess, providing an even larger ratio. But the reality is -- and blindfolded taste tests will show -- that this tiny amount of vermouth is well under the threshhold of taste. If you use such a miniscule amount of vermouth you might as well just drink a glass of chilled gin, which is what you are already doing in effect anyway. There is nothing wrong with drinking chilled gin, of course, but that doesn't mean it is a martini. I am very much against the practice of calling everything served in a cocktail glass a "martini". If you can't at least detect the presence of vermouth, then it is not a cocktail and is definitely not a martini. I read an article recently that referenced a well-known bartender who doesn't put any vermouth in his martinis and still has several returned each night for "too much vermouth" -- which just goes to show that you really can't tell anything at these small amounts.

How much vermouth one uses will depend very much on the flavor characteristics of the two spirits. More strongly flavored gins can, and should, take a little more vermouth. Delicate gins take a little less. There is not a huge difference in intensity of flavor between most brands of vermouth, but my vermouth of preference, Vya, has such an intense flavor that I find I can use less. If I'm using Vya and a delicate gin, I might go to 8:1, otherwise I usually go 7:1 or 6:1. As other people have observed, when you serve a real martini with these ratios to someone who is a "super extra dry zero vermouth martini guy" they will usually like your version much better.

2. There should be some dilution. Part of the reason cocktails are stirred or shaken over ice is to dilute the drink. This has the effect of marrying the flavors and opening everything up. You would be surprised how much water is added to a cocktail just from the act of mixing it with ice. Try measuring how many ounces of booze you put into the cocktail mixer, and how many ounces of cocktail you get back out. This is one reason why one should not keep gin in the freezer, because it will be too cold to melt any of the ice. Again, in my experience, most people will prefer a properly diluted martini if they don't know what they're getting.

To the few die-hards who absolutely cannot stomach a martini as described above... there is nothing wrong with pouring gin or vodka straight out of the freezer into a chilled cocktail class and plopping in an olive, twist or other garnish. Just don't call it a martini.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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hmmm... I've been making a few martinis lately and have found that a 3:1 ratio of gin (or vodka) to vermouth is really quite tasty when a dash of orange bitters enters the mix as well. This is going very pre-war, I know, but I have found them to be quite delicious. And a use for the Fee's Orange Bitters I went so out of my way to acquire. And they are, at least arguably, still proper Martinis, rather than some other cocktail served in a martini glass.

I've been quite pleased with Noilly Prat dry vermouth... so pleased in fact that I find it tasty when served alone on the rocks before dinner. I've been less pleased with Martini and Rossi... riding on reputation... (and don't get me started on their Rosso, which is downright vile...)

When it comes to gin, I love Beefeater, and I'm pleased to see that others here corroborate my affection for Seagrams... All the while I was thinking it was nostalgia for my series of "Cheap-Gin and Tonic" parties I threw shortly after I got out of college (which featured Seagrams as the starring ingredient, and left me with lots of it to play with in my evening mixology sessions.)


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Anyone tried either Vya or King Eider vermouth in a martini?

I usually prepare these martinis with a 5:1 gin/vermouth ratio. (Stirred, never shaken.)

If I use Noilly Prat, I keep the same ratio but add 2 or 3 drops of Fee's Orange Bitters along the lines of what cdh mentioned.

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Here in Paris I made a “Picasso Martini“,

The concept of this martini is to use vermouth ice cubes and not liquid vermouth.

You just have to make a classic martini but without martini, when your martini is ready you just have to add one vermouth ice cube in, when you think you have enough vermouth in your martini you just have to remove it and enjoy it.

I'm sorry for the english.

Tell me what you think ?

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When I'm making a dry martini, I prefer 6:1 gin:vermouth. But when I'm making a sweet martini (with sweet vermouth, not a dry martini with extra dry vermouth) it's 3:1.

I garnish a sweet martini with griottines, and a mandarin orange section, if I feel like opening a can. Sometimes a drop of orange oil (gotta find orange bitters, but in this hinterland...)

The sweet martini is sophisticated, but unselfconsciously so. It's still not especially sweet.

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Inavailablity of orange bitters is not a result of living in a distant hinterland.. as a matter of fact, they come from a distant hinterland...

Only source of orange bitters I'm aware of is Fee Bros. in Rochester, NY... almost exclusively available by mail order from them... They're very nice in that they'll send you (or whoever you desire to send a few bottle to) the goods, and then invoice you later. They'll also sell by the single bottle, which is, again, a really nice accomodation to buyers like us. A web search for Fee Brothers bitters should turn up their phone number... I'm feeling too lazy to do it myself now.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Only source of orange bitters I'm aware of is Fee Bros. in Rochester, NY... almost exclusively available by mail order from them...  They're very nice in that they'll send you (or whoever you desire to send a few bottle to) the goods, and then invoice you later.  They'll also sell by the single bottle, which is, again, a really nice accomodation to buyers like us.  A web search for Fee Brothers bitters should turn up their phone number... I'm feeling too lazy to do it myself now.

When I'm in Houston, I get Fee Brothers Orange Bitters at Spec's. They also sell Peychaud Bitters.

If you want to contact Fee Brothers directly, see their web site. Fee Brothers also makes an "Old Fashioned Bitters" that is excellent and a great alternative to Angostura Bitters.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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I've bought Fee Bros. orange and old fashioned bitters at Corti Brothers in Sacramento (5810 Folsom Blvd, (916) 736-3800) and at De Laurenti's in Seattle (1435 1st Ave, (206) 622-0141).

I love using the orange bitters in anything I use Seville orange juice in, including what my mum calls a Delores, which is basically a Delilah made with sour orange juice instead of lemon.

regards,

trillium

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Tower Market in San Francisco also carries Fee Bros. Orange Bitters.

(By the way, there is another brand out there -- Collins. It's not as good as Fee Bros. but it's better than nothing.)


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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Re: Orange Bitters :

And there will be another brand on the market soon, I don't think they've announced it yet, so I don't think I can say much more then that about it... But look for it around September.

-Robert

www.DrinkBoy.com

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DrinkBoy, I noticed on your website you included a recipe for making one's own bitters from Charles H. Baker's book.

Have you actually attempted that recipe?

In Chinese markets one can get dried orange peel to be used for eating or cooking that might be macerated in some spirit to make a bitter....

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OK, here's one I call the Vagabond, © 2003 Greg O'Rear. :smile:

1. Put some crushed ice in a shaker.

2. Add a splash of vermouth and a couple of generous dashes of Angostura bitters.

3. Shake well, then strain off the liquid.

4. Add an ounce or so of good gin (I use Tanqueray No. 10 straight from the freezer).

5. Shake well, then strain into a chilled martini glass.

6. Spear an olive and an onion with a toothpick and drop in the glass.

7. Top off the glass with very cold, very fresh club soda.

It's sort of a pink gin martini/gibson and soda, but the name derives from the recipe (more or less):

Vermouth

And

Gin

Angostura

Bitters

Olive

oNion

soDa

Remember, this recipe is copyrighted, so every time you drink a Vagabond, you owe me 10% of your inebriation. :blink:

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To the few die-hards who absolutely cannot stomach a martini as described above... there is nothing wrong with pouring gin or vodka straight out of the freezer into a chilled cocktail class and plopping in an olive, twist or other garnish.  Just don't call it a martini.

But I do call it a martini -- and after two, I'll be ready to trade blows with anyone who dares deny me the right to do so. After three, I'll be asleep.

Another, more civilized, martini variation is a good shot poured on the rocks, just enough scotch to get a little taste, and a twist. My friends father called it a "silver bullet" and was routinely detailed to fill the thermos with them for boating parties.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thanks beans, that thread had what I was looking for.


Edited by Meow-Mix (log)

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What's your preference -- shaken or stirred ?

Anyone subscribe to the "stirring is superior because shaking bruises the gin" theory ?

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Anyone subscribe to the "stirring is superior because shaking bruises the gin" theory ?

In my experience, the gin is far more likely to bruise me, than I am to bruise the gin, no matter how hard I shake it.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I wouldn't know why you would shake a martini, you'll just water it down.

The only times you should really shake a cocktail is when there's juice.

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Shaking does not "bruise" the gin... this was just a cute turn of phrase that has been turned into a religion :->

The purpose of both shaking and stiring is to chill the drink down -and- dilute it slightly with added water from the melted ice.

Shaking will chill the drink down faster then stiring.

Stiring doesn't dilute the drink as quickly as stiring.

Take these two facts together, and as long as you stir/shake long enough to chill to the same temperature, you also end up with "basically" the same amount of dilution. So from a technical standpoint there is no difference between the two.

However...

Shaking a drink will also trap air bubbles in the drink, and you will thusly end up with a "cloudy" drink when you pour it out. A stirred drink will pour out almost crystal clear.

So the rule of thumb, which few bartenders these days knows, is that if the drink is constructed with "transparent" ingredients, you stir it. If you add a non-transparent ingredient (ie: juice, cream, egg, etc.) then you might as well shake it, since it will end up cloudy either way.

-Robert Hess

www.DrinkBoy.com

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I wouldn't know why you would shake a martini, you'll just water it down.

The only times you should really shake a cocktail is when there's juice.

Tell that to James Bond. :laugh:

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I wouldn't know why you would shake a martini, you'll just water it down.

The only times you should really shake a cocktail is when there's juice.

Tell that to James Bond. :laugh:

Yeah I've always wondered about that, why Bond always orders his "Shaken, not stirred".

I assume because in the original novels it was more of a satire then a serious story.

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Shaking a drink will also trap air bubbles in the drink, and you will thusly end up with a "cloudy" drink when you pour it out. A stirred drink will pour out almost crystal clear.

So the rule of thumb, which few bartenders these days knows, is that if the drink is constructed with "transparent" ingredients, you stir it. If you add a non-transparent ingredient (ie: juice, cream, egg, etc.) then you might as well shake it, since it will end up cloudy either way.

-Robert Hess

www.DrinkBoy.com

Also, the trapped air bubbles will make the drink feel different in the mouth -- more "frothy" -- but this effect will dissipate as the air escapes.


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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Also,  the trapped air bubbles will make the drink feel different in the mouth -- more "frothy" -- but this effect will dissipate as the air escapes.

Also if the bartender gets overenthusiastic or showoffy and shakes the drink too hard, there can be little chips of ice in it. I hate that.

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