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.

Sign in to follow this  
bleudauvergne

Dry Vodka Martini

Recommended Posts

I am writing this having been inspired by Marlene's food blog this week in which she is served a vodka martini with a twist. And it's got me thinking about my experiences with vodka martinis.

I ordered a dry vodka martini in Hong Kong at a hotel bar and got a martini to die for. I was aware that there was just a little itty bitty bit of vermouth in it, it was like a whisper of vermouth. A beautiful little whisper.

Then, 6 months later, I ordered a dry vodka martini at a bar in the U.S. and I got straight vodka. I asked her to give me a touch of vermouth and the bar tender acted rather offended (maybe she though I was trying to get free extra?) and said that a dry martini is straight vodka so I should just order what I want next time.

It took me off guard. Is a dry vodka martini only straight vodka, or does it have a little bit of vermouth in it (albeit less than the classic mixture)?

Thank you for your kind advice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was a bartender, (a very long time ago), we were taught to make a Martini (Gin or Vodka) with just a touch of vermouth. Usually, by pouring a dribble into the glass, swirling it around the glass and then dumping any remaing vermouth out.

However, I just know beans and JAZ can weigh in on this one much better than I can.

And thanks for the thread plug :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will weigh in too, as I have a number of times on this subject. A martini is a cocktail. A cocktail is made by combining at least two ingredients, and a garnish doesn't count.

So, whoever told you that a dry vodka martini doesn't contain any vermouth is simply wrong. That is not a vodka martini. That is vodka shaken with ice, strained into a glass and garnished. A drink I like to call the "glass of cold vodka."

Furthermore, I fail to understand the whole "rinse the shaker (or glass) with vermouth and pour out the excess" method. That gives you something like 40:1 gin or vodka to vermouth. Unless the vermouth is particularly strong tasting (e.g., Vya), there is no way someone can taste this minute amount of vermouth. For a martini, anything much beyond 8:1 starts to make the vermouth superfluous, and 6:1 is really better. In fact, a lot of people really appreciate a medium martini at 2:1 if they've never tried one before. Now, given that vodka has practically no taste whatsoever I can understand that a vodka martini might use a higher ratio -- perhaps 10:1 -- but anything much higher and the drink is no longer a cocktail and it's no longer a vodka martini.

One thing I have taken to doing, unless I am in a bar well-known for the excellence of its classic cocktails, is specifying the ratio of gin to vermouth and asking that the martini not be shaken.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Furthermore, I fail to understand the whole "rinse the shaker (or glass) with vermouth and pour out the excess" method. That gives you something like 40:1 gin or vodka to vermouth.

I think when you do this over the ice, not just an empty glass, you'd get a bit more vermouth. I know I can tell the difference. But you're right, the vermouth to gin/vodka ratio is a silly debate on the whole.

What I can't stand is a watery martini. I find little bits of ice offensive or a drink that's sat on the bar unstrained until serving time (often a long time later) much more offensive than a too "wet" martini.

Once in Europe I was served a martini made with "Martini Bianco" vermouth. It is a sweet, white vermouth and it turned me off cocktails in Europe for quite awhile.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Furthermore, I fail to understand the whole "rinse the shaker (or glass) with vermouth and pour out the excess" method. That gives you something like 40:1 gin or vodka to vermouth. Unless the vermouth is particularly strong tasting (e.g., Vya), there is no way someone can taste this minute amount of vermouth.

I can.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I was right... ooo that bartender was mean about it, too. :angry:

I note that slkinsey specifies that his martini be stirred and not shaken. Excuse me for asking a rather naive question, but what's the difference between a martini that's been shaken and one that's been stirred?

Rancho Gordo, in France martini means the Italian sweet stuff that comes in a martini bottle. If you ask for a martini the way we like them, you have to say: Je voudrais un - martini Americain -, and if they look at you like you're crazy, you have to give them the recipe, and stress that it's "martini blanc sec" that they have to put in it. Otherwise they'll mess it up. And be preapred to pay a LOT of money for it. :laugh::laugh:

edited to say "and frow away ze martini from ze glass? [blathery blubbery noise with lips] I sink not, madame." :raz:


Edited by bleudauvergne (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few things about stirred versus shaken.

1. A shaken drink will be cloudy whereas a stirred drink will be clear. Generally, when drinking a cocktail made of transparent liquors, I prefer stirred. This is the main difference. Some people feel that shaking "muddies" the flavors of pure, elemental cocktails like martinis and manhattans. I'm not sure I agree.

2. A shaken drink will usually be more diluted, and there will often be small chips of ice in the drink.

3. A shaken drink will sometimes have a slightly frothy consistency, and will have a tiny "foam" on the top of the liquid. This is not generally the case with shaken martinis.

4. A shaken drink will usually be somewhat colder than a stirred drink.

My personal rule of thumb is that I shake drinks that are not inherrently transparent, and I shake drinks that involve more than two or three ingredients. This means most drinks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I'm going to have to make 4 tonight, since I have to make one while throwing the vermouth out of the glass, and one with a little bit added in, and each of those variations shaken, and then one stirred. Oh well. Thanks guys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Technically, a vodka martini, even a "dry" one, has vermouth. In reality, today there are a lot of bartenders who make "martinis" (both gin and vodka) with no vermouth. In any case, there was no reason for the bartender to display a bad attitude, even if he or she had been correct.

In another thread, beans posted a link to an article on vodka in Las Vegas (Article Here) and provided this quote:

Martin said he has told his bartenders that when a customer orders a standard vodka martini, it's best to leave out the vermouth, because of the vodka's neutral flavor. "You start throwing dry vermouth in there and bad things happen."

That, to me, is the perfect example of an unfortunate but all too typical drinker who really does not like the taste of cocktails but wants to drink them anyway. The answer? Tasteless, odorless vodka, served ice cold and without vermouth to ensure a complete lack of flavor. Weird, but true.

Like Sam, I always specifiy that I want vermouth, and that I want my drink stirred. I see he's listed the basic differences between shaking and stirring, so I won't duplicate them, but will make one additinal observation. Even if a shaken drink is not visibly foamy, it will have more air incorporated into the liquid than the stirred version, which results in a different "mouthfeel." The stirred drink will be smooth and "heavier" on the tongue; the shaken drink will be, not fizzy, but lighter and sort of bubbly. The air bubbles dissipate quickly, however, so that effect goes away after a minute or so.

Edit to add parentheses.


Edited by JAZ (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The stirred drink will be smooth and "heavier" on the tongue; the shaken drink will be, not fizzy, but lighter and sort of bubbly. The air bubbles dissipate quickly, however, so that effect goes away after a minute or so.

All the more reason, I say, to serve smaller cocktails. I'd much rather have several small, perfectly cold, frizzy when they need to be/silky when they need to be cocktails than one big one that will lose those important aspects over the 15 minutes it takes to drink it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rancho Gordo, in France martini means the Italian sweet stuff that comes in a martini bottle.  If you ask for a martini the way we like them, you have to say:  Je voudrais un - martini Americain -, and if they look at you like you're crazy, you have to give them the recipe, and stress that it's "martini blanc sec" that they have to put in it.  Otherwise they'll mess it up.  And be preapred to pay a LOT of money for it.  :laugh:  :laugh:

I used to order a martini cocktail and that seemed to work but this bartender insisted the Bianco was the standard vermouth in a martini cocktail, even in the US, where I don't think we even have this product. I'd learned long before that martinis were probably best enjoyed stateside, but this was a really wildly deluxe "international" hotel and I figured it might be safe. I was worng, but believe me, on the whole, I'd rather be eating and drinking in Europe.

But an unrelated point (probably thinking of bleudauvergne's martini in Hong Kong)

- during a heat wave I tend make/order highball type drinks but if I remember to pre-chill most of the ingredients, it's amazing how refreshing a short, cold, crisp martini up can be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading this thread makes me wonder if there is a default garnish for a classic martini (read: gin and vermouth, stirred). Seems like lemon twist or olives are always called by the consumer.

I prefer either no garnish at all or a decent quality green olive that is not stuffed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I bartend at the type of place where a good majority of drinks I make are martinis:

Here's both what I was taught and what I've picked up from our customers... A "dry" martini, whether gin or vodka has a little bit of vermouth in it. Say half of your normal pour of 1:6-7. I've gotten a lot of orders for "extra dry" martinis in which case there is absolutely no vermouth added whatsover. A whisper isn't out of the question, but most people just don't want any vermouth. I've also noticed, when it's ordered extra dry, it's usually gin. If our customers want vodka straight up, they'll order straight up vodka, kinda like this : "grey goose citron, straight up, extra cold". I've yet to pour pure vodka as a "martini". :blink:

And as a side note, I never, ever, shake clear martinis. Cosmos yes, tanq10 martinis, no. :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very short on time today and without rehashing the vodkatini or the gin martini, historical accuracy, common public belief/ordering tendancies, etc., so I'll be brief.

A Very Dry Martini = no vermouth.

A Dry Martini = little vermouth.

A Martini = a slkinsey household martini. :raz:

bleudauvergne, that was a rude bartender.

As far as JAZ's assertion of Vodka being without flavour or taste, that is not true. Each one does have its own nuances, textures and finishes. That is why some enjoy the "metalic" Stoli or say the "softness" Grey Goose. There are tremendous differences in the grains/potatoes used in the distillation process and often is dependent upon the master distiller's careful and exacting formula/combination. 100% potato vodka is often perceived as "hot." (Isn't there an already older thread on eG about this?)

Throughout history enlightened cultures have produced their own version of vodka, and the most enlightened vodkas are clean, pure and subtle. Often mistakenly called flavorless, great vodkas are as diverse as they are subtle and complex. The secret to understanding vodka is to be aware of its feel and texture, not just the taste.

http://www.bendistillery.com/clv.htm

Based on the type and quality of the ingredients, smoothness gets better and worse. Corn, potatoes, molasses, barley, rye and wheat are the common ingredients for vodka. Vodkas made from corn tend to be fairly neutral in taste; those made from wheat have a soft, smooth character, others carry hints of the fruit essences they contain.

http://www.cocktailtimes.com/dictionary/vodka_quality.shtml

I really could go on about this, but don't see a real point to doing so. I generally dislike Gin, but will forever keep an open mind to trying it and all of its new incarnations entering the marketplace. I for one have some Russian and Polish ancestry and quite relish the "water of life," so to speak! :biggrin:

Dare I assert that there are those that firmly believe that gin is really flavoured vodka??

*ducks from incoming* :laugh:

[i borrowed that line from Soba.... Thank you Soba!]

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Very short on time today and without rehashing the vodkatini or the gin martini, historical accuracy, common public belief/ordering tendancies, etc., so I'll be brief.

A Very Dry Martini = no vermouth.

A Dry Martini = little vermouth.

A Martini = a slkinsey household martini. :raz:

Hey! :biggrin:

Seriously, though, as much as I am a crusader for more vermouth in martinis, I certainly recognize that what beans says is absolutely correct from the standpoint of someone on her side of the bar who is in the business of satisfying customers' expectations. So, while I don't philosophically agree that no vermouth equals any kind of martini at all, her explanation is right on from the real-world standpoint of what one is likely to serve or be served in a bar if you ask for a "very dry martini."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oops! :biggrin:

I forgot. "Extra" dry and "Very" dry (same thing) are just about waving/passing a bottle of vermouth over the cocktail shaker. :rolleyes::raz:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first started drinking in bars and cocktail lounges, if one wanted a gin martini, 'up' (strained into a cocktail glass), stirred and with an olive garnish, that order could be made with a single word -- two if you specified "dry".

I remember clearly how, shortly after this ceased to be the case, my friend Gale turned to me after patiently answering the newly requisite laundry list of questions, and said, in her best New England top-drawer Kathryn Hepburn voice, "Who ARE these people who drink vodka 'martinis', shaken, on the rocks with a twist?!?!" :laugh:

Cheers,

Squeat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When I first started drinking in bars and cocktail lounges, if one wanted a gin martini, 'up' (strained into a cocktail glass), stirred and with an olive garnish, that order could be made with a single word -- two if you specified "dry".

I remember clearly how, shortly after this ceased to be the case, my friend Gale turned to me after patiently answering the newly requisite laundry list of questions, and said, in her best New England top-drawer Kathryn Hepburn voice, "Who ARE these people who drink vodka 'martinis', shaken, on the rocks with a twist?!?!" :laugh:

I am a purist at heart, and after several posts from different sources I am sold on this idea of the gin martini being king. My father used to make them for me, and I love them. But the vodka martini -

Alright. I have made the 4 vodka martinis. Don't worry, my hubby's here to help me to do taste testing. I can say that swishing around the vermouth in the glass and leaving the dregs after pouring it out it does not provide the whisper of vermouth I was hoping for, although during the first 5 seconds, when I was bringing it to my mouth, I thought it might. Maybe my vodka wasn't good enough. We drank it anyway. I tasted one or two sips (ok - half) of each of my test martinis so I ended up tasting roughly 2 martinis on the whole.

We did -

splash around the glass and discard of vermouth / stir = whiff of vermouth, taste- like a shot of vodka. Pretty.

splash around the glass and discard of vermouth / shake = whiff of vermouth taste, like a shot of vodka but maybe colder than the first. Did not observe a "lighter" taste. Perhaps due to the quality of the vodka.

small dose of vermouth / stir - the best.

and small dose / shake OK alright, not the same visual impact.

The stirred martini looked better than the shaken ones. They all made this kind of flowery ring of bulbs around the edge which was nice. I seemed to have random sediment floating in everything, which was my ice cubes, I suppose. A photo session didn't give much. I'll chalk it off to the martinis. I never could play chess either under the influence.

Conclusion: next time I will order a dry (vodka or gin) martini with a little vermouth (just in case they forget), stirred, with olive, pereferably stuffed with pimento, or 3 capers, which seemed better than the anchovie stuffed olives I had in the fridge, they just didn't seem right.

Tonight's martini no. 3 of 4, served with capers.

i3805.jpg

I wish I'd thought to wipe off the stove top. But that's what happens when you're in the moment.

-Lucy

Edited to ask squeat - if the martini wasn't "up", how was it served?


Edited by bleudauvergne (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Beautiful! I have to agree with the assessment of the third one being the best. Although I was taught to make it the first way, my husband does not. He makes it the third way - which is why he makes the Martini's in the house instead of me :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Edited to ask squeat - if the martini wasn't "up", how was it served?

bleu, about the time people started asking for 'vodka martinis', there seemed to be a craze for having martinis (either kind) 'over' or 'on the rocks'. Gale found that trend appalling, as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some people drink their martinis on the rocks. Why, I can't imagine. It just waters down too quickly.

I was always told that rather than waving the vermouth over the shaker, it was proper to bow in the direction of France while holding the vermouth bottle. :biggrin:

The best way to get the "whisper" of vermouth is to use a small sprayer. It gives the entire top surface of the drink a very light film of vermouth floating on the top, so you taste it ever-so-slightly with each sip.

An ice cold vodka in a birdbath glass is a "Vodka Up". Period. It is NOT a martini, which implies some sort of mixology skills in the bartender. Any monkey can make the vodka cold and strain it into a glass. A real bartender knows how to mix a real cocktail in the manner which their customer would like.

If they're a really good and really smart bartender, the drink is made in exactly the same pleasing manner the next time as soon as the customer asserts, "I'll have the usual, please." :cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Edited to ask squeat - if the martini wasn't "up", how was it served?

bleu, about the time people started asking for 'vodka martinis', there seemed to be a craze for having martinis (either kind) 'over' or 'on the rocks'. Gale found that trend appalling, as well.

Squeat, thank you for your knowledge.

What is 'over'?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Squeat, thank you for your knowledge. 

What is 'over'?

'over' = 'on the rocks'. Two ways of asking for the same thing.

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Some people drink their martinis on the rocks. Why, I can't imagine. It just waters down too quickly.

Slightly OT, but I have to share this story. Some years ago, we were at a neighborhood pub-type bar where most of the drinks are pints and shots. The bartender was a very young woman who seemed to be fairly new. Two customers walked in and ordered a scotch and soda and a martini on the rocks. She made the scotch and soda and started to make the martini: she filled the cocktail glass (a very small one, incidentally) with ice and set it on the bar, then poured the ingredients into the mixing glass, mixed it, and strained it into the cocktail glass -- without removing the ice! She was so confused, because she had all this martini left in the mixing glass, and she clearly wanted to give it to the customer. My companion (a bartender) leaned over and softly told her to pour it into a rocks glass. She was generous enough to comp us a drink for that bit of advice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The stirred drink will be smooth and "heavier" on the tongue; the shaken drink will be, not fizzy, but lighter and sort of bubbly. The air bubbles dissipate quickly, however, so that effect goes away after a minute or so.

All the more reason, I say, to serve smaller cocktails. I'd much rather have several small, perfectly cold, frizzy when they need to be/silky when they need to be cocktails than one big one that will lose those important aspects over the 15 minutes it takes to drink it.

My sentiments exactly; I really dislike oversized drinks served up.

I often order manhattans and martinis (gin only); thanks for the tips here on asking for having them stirred. Amazingly I never thought to ask that and at many places get the frothy mix and ice chip treatment.

Neither of these points have much to do with dry vodka martinis persay.... but then I was the one that was shocked a few years ago in SF that when I ordered a martini they assumed it was vodka! (we had a laugh to ourselves though thinking maybe we looked younger than we did. In retrospect it was probably that the barkeep was on the young side!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×