A proper martini

Jun 2, 2008, 10:05 PM |

2 shots vodka (or gin)

1.5 capfuls of FRESH vermouth




Place the ice in a shaker.  If you don't have a shaker, you can use a plastic cup and a pint glass. If you don't have those, improvise.  Just make something that will seal so you can shake it vigorously without making a mess.  Add the vodka, overpouring slightly.  I actually prefer gin (Sapphire), but at the time of this writing, I was in the mood for vodka.  I had a bottle of Skyy on hand.  Add the vermouth, underpouring slightly.  Use fresh vermouth.  Many martinis at bars suck because the vermouth is bad.  Vermouth is wine.  Buy it in small quantities, keep it refrigerated, and toss it when it gets old.  Seal whatever you were able to form in the way of a shaker, and give it a good roughing.


It is important to use a proper martini glass.  As any wine snob will tell you, a key is to have a stem to grab on to so that the heat from your hand does not prematurely warm the contents of your glass.  Upon pouring the drink, the liquid should be white and cloudy with microscopic bubbles and tiny shards of ice.

I'm a lemon twist fan, but you do what you have to do.  Life is full of many difficult decisions.  A fine assortment of olives stuffed with myriad delicacies is available for your experimentation.  The classic pimiento, a crunchy almond half, a gagging bleu cheese, garlic or even a salty anchovy can add a nice punch in the stomach to the dizzying effects of your cocktail.  Much depends on the brand of distillate you are using.  For example, among gins, Tanqueray has an overpowering juniper flavor to it, so use a strongly flavored garnish in order to balance it.  Bombay Sapphire, in turn, is a much more subtly flavored gin.  Anything more than a hint of lemon or something similarly light will overpower it, and you will never taste the collection of flavors at play in the glass.  It's a symphony--loud goes with loud and soft goes with soft.

Lemons are simple, and they are a good way to open your palate.  If you don't have one, it is worthwhile to look in the cooking utensils section at your local market for a lemon zester.  Use this to scrape little curls of the rind of a clean lemon into the drink.  Lacking this, while the mixture is resting in the shaker, cut a sliver of the lemon as thin and as long as you can.  The exterior and rind are what you're after, so remove the acidic meat of the lemon from your cutting.  For aesthetic purposes, keep the cutting to less than 0.5 cm in thickness, but make it as long as you can.  The skinnier the better.  Give it a twist and dunk it.

That's it.  Enjoy.  No drinking and driving.  The best thing about staying at home to drink is that if you mess up your drink, you can pour yourself more until you get it right.  Practice, practice, practice.

After a couple of martinis, you may be prone to erratic chess play.  Two things to remember:  1.  You're drunk, so you might as well be offensive.  Give her some support, and put that queen to work.  2.  Later in the game, don't allow your opponents rooks onto your 2nd rank when drinking French vodka.  For some reason, it just never works out well.  You will end up surrendering.