How to Make a Great Martini
The word martini has evolved recently to encompass any cocktail served in a martini (cocktail glass). Although I still use the word interchangeably, when you hear me say that I’m in the mood for a martini, you can bet that I’m speaking of the real deal: gin with a splash of vermouth, shaken over ice then served up, in a cocktail glass, garnished with two stuffed queen olives. Though I sometimes bend the rules, I consider myself somewhat of a cocktail purist. When it comes to a martini, I see no other avenue. Of course there are some subtle modifications from time to time. Every once in a while I’ll have a vodka martini, and sometimes I will garnish from a twist of lemon instead of the olives, though I almost never drink a dirty martini.
A dirty martini is one that contains the brine from olives. The stuff you buy in the bottle is the same liquid that you would find in your jar of olives. Bars tend to use the same type of olives that you can find in the grocery store – large queen olives stuffed with pimentos
Here’s the process for making a great martini (this is how an upscale bar or restaurant would do it)-
1. Fill your shaker tin 3/4 with ice. Make sure to use the commercial ice with jagged edges; square is best. You will need good ice to add the proper amount of water to your drink when you shake or stir.
2. Add a little bit of dry vermouth to the shaker – pour it over the ice, put on your top and give it a few swirls so that it coats the ice evenly. Using your strainer, pour out the vermouth (unless you want more). Some people skip this step and leave out the vermouth altogether, though I insist it is a vital ingredient in a gin martini.
3. Fill your martini glass with ice, then water; the goal is to chill the glass as much as possible.
4. Pour a couple of ounces (about 2 1/2 to 3oz. should do it) of vodka or gin over the ice in the shaker. Your best bet is to use room temperature liquor; if you keep it in the freezer, you won’t get enough melting of the ice. If you want a dirty martini, add a little of the brine (juice) from the olive jar. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take any out.
5. Shake vigorously! Some purists contend that a martini should be stirred, but I prefer mine ice-cold with little shards of ice floating on the top of the drink. I can’t remember the last time I ever saw a bartender at a bar or restaurant stir a martini; it takes a while.
6. Pour out the ice and water from the martini glass, and strain your drink into the glass.
7. Garnish with either a twist of lemon or two olives. Lately I’ve been on the olive kick, using blue cheese, onion or garlic stuffed olives. You can also get some other varieties, or regular olives soaked in vermouth. Most bars will use large pimento-stuffed queen olives. Make sure you spear them with something, like a toothpick or plastic sword.
8. Taste, and add more olive juice or vermouth if necessary. If you add additional ingredients, make sure to first pour them over ice and chill; you don’t want to add warm ingredients to your ice cold drink.
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