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The Art of the Martini
Not a perfect martini. That is something entirely different.
NOT your favorite fruit or candy with "tini" attached to the end of it.
NOT shaken not stirred. James Bond didn't know what he was talking about. I shudder every time I order a martini in a restaurant and hear that familiar "shuka shuka" sound of my beloved cocktail being botched by a hack bartender.
All of this aside, the classic martini is an easy cocktail to craft, consisting mostly of gin and dry vermouth (a fortified wine and aperitif or aperitivo).
Making the Perfect Martini
3 base ingredients:
Traditionally an olive or lemon twist
1 1/2 oz. jigger (or a plastic pourer and the ability to count to three)
These are the simple steps to creating a classic martini:
Fill your martini glass with ice to chill.
Ice up your stainless strainer.
Add a conservative splash of vermouth. Some will just swirl the vermouth to coat the inside of the shaker and dump it before adding ice. Vermouth is a fortified wine with a very strong flavor profile. Too much of it is usually the downfall of a martini. It is important to add the vermouth before you add the gin. It is much easier to pour too much vermouth down the drain than it is to pour too much vermouth and just the right amount of gin down the drain. Wasting spirits is not allowed in drink making. Not a single drop. The less vermouth you use the drier your martini will be deemed.
If using a jigger pour two jiggerful's into the shaker. Don't fill to the brim of the jigger as this will cause spillage. Wasting spirits is not allowed in drink making. Not a single drop. If using the counting method with a plastic pourer 1 oz. = a 3 count (1001, 1002, 1003). For the proper amount of gin you count to 6 or maybe 7 or possibly 8 (depending on how late in the afternoon it is).
Stir vigorously or gently with your bar spoon (whichever feels right). DO NOT shake. The main reason for this is that a martini should be served crystal clear and when shaken it will pour cloudy.
Dump the ice from your martini glass and pour.
The standard garnish is an olive or two, although a lemon twist is also acceptable.
A dirty martini has olive juice added after the pour and is the only cloudy martini that is acceptable.
Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? The funny thing is that every martini drinker has a different idea of what the perfect martini can be. Just think of the classic martini recipe as a blank canvas. Once you begin to understand that you can work on your own subtle variations to suit your own taste. Each martini can be as individual as its maker. Winston Churchill is credited with saying that his idea of a dry Martini was to look at the bottle of vermouth from across the room as you prepare a glass of gin. I let my martini rest for a few minutes after stirring to allow some of the ice to melt. I use one of my homemade pickled garlic cloves and a dash of brine as a garnish.
The martini is a distinct, dignified cocktail with a rich history. The art of making the perfect martini is a subtle one that requires years of practice. No one has ever complained about that. I will leave you with the wise words of American humorist James Thurber, "One martini is alright, two is too many, three is never enough".
Despite that ending quote, always drink responsibly and NEVER drink and drive.
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