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How to make a Martini

Garnish: always prepare the garnish first. A green olive (in brine) is for vodka. A lemon twist is for gin. Don't get this mixed up! For the lemon, use a small sharp knife - you're only after lemon oil, so avoid taking away the white stuff underneath (its very bitter). The ideal size is closer a steri-strip, not a band-aid. Twist the lemon rind over the Gin making sure it sprays across the surface - the trick here is to pull, not push, the lemon gently using your thumb and forefingers and then twist. Olives are easy - simply drop into the vodka on a cocktail stick. Stuffed olives are fine, but in any case, never rinse the olive. Small silverskinned onions (aka a Gibson) will go with vodka or gin. And instead of lemon, the dandy in you might enjoy a bruised rose petal (yellow or pink) with gin.

Naked: one or two drops of Noilly Pratt (Not Cinzano!) into a frozen martini glass. An eye-dropper is just great for this. Swirl quickly and flick the glass before the drops freeze. Add 75mls of frozen vodka or gin. Drink it quickly, no more than 10 minutes.

Stirred: fill the glass of a cocktail shaker 2/3 with ice. One bar teaspoon of Noilly Pratt (did I say Not Cinzano!). Stir quickly (5-10 seconds) are drain. Add 50mls of vodka or gin, stir less quickly. Drain into a cold martini glass. This doesn't need to be drunk quite as quickly thanks to the dilution.

Spirit: A Martini is not a mixed drink, so use a decent alcohol. I like K1, Smirnoff Black, or Stolichnya. Absolut is too harsh even when frozen and is much better in a fruit cocktail. Tanqueray is simply the best gin in existence; they also to make excellent vodka (Sterling), but if you can't get it try Gordons (green bottle), Beefeater, or Bombay Sapphire. Noilly Pratt, beloved of chefs, is the best vermouth for making these drinks.

Tools: these days, we should all have a silver barspoon, a glass/steel cocktail shaker and some sprirt measures At home, an eye-dropper kept in the fridge is ideal for holding the vermouth (atomizers are too fussy).

Drinking: the idea behind many classic drinks is to enjoy the drink while it's cold - and few things are worse than a warm Martini. Martinis are wonderful had early on in the evening or before dinner. They are very much for gulping, not sipping. Only drink a few - Martinis are best enjoyed when sober and don't make for an especially interesting drunkeness. If in doubt keep the Martini small and make more of them - feel free to drop the spirit volumes mentioned to 35ml and 50ml.


[Next: the Gimlet.]

January 13, 2004 12:47 AM


(January 13, 2004 08:41 AM #)

Agreed -- Tanqueray is the best. I'd rate Bombay Sapphire #2; after that the field is pretty bare.

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