Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Ultimate Martini Recipe

My dad, a retired Marine Lt. Col., has drank martinis all his life.  He says the best one that he’s ever had was made by a fraternity brother of mine.  Yesterday I emailed my buddy, a former bartender, and asked for his recipe and technique, and he replied as follows:


Most people drink vodka martinis. I like Belevedere because it's made with rye. Kinda "crisp". I also like Rain, which was the top choice at the bar where I worked.  For gin, Junipero from Anchor Distillery is great. I have also enjoyed Bombay Sapphire.
In a professional bar, I pour a bit of vermouth in the glass, swirl to coat, and then dump the rest. At home, I use a little pump spray bottle. I only use a little dry vermouth, so it is not critical what type, but I prefer Martini & Rossi. I have gotten in the habit of using Lillet (a vermouth-type french wine) instead of regular vermouth. A bit less "distracting."
The garnish most prefer is a lemon twist. At the bar, I'd prep these in advance. At home, I use a kitchen gadget made for getting the skin off (and avoiding the bitter white rind) of citrus. The alternative is either olives or pearl onions. These are such a personal decision, that I only have them when I am serving olives anyway. In the bar, I'd dry the olive to prevent dirtying a "clean" martini. At home, I just drain the brine, and let them dry.
The ice you use must also be dry. This where an ice maker or large ice cooler is needed. At home, I take the ice directly from the freezer to the shaker. Wetter ice can be used to chill the glass with added water.
I never shake a martini unless asked to do so. That adds air bubbles. I like a clear martini. Shaking is really only meant for drinks with thick liquids like milk, cream, and fruit juice.
The glass is a key component. You want it to be big, thin, and with a slightly turned-in lip. Big to hold a decent martini and garnish without spillage. Thin to chill fast and stay cold. The turned-in lip helps keep it from pouring out when disturbed. The glass should be spotlessly clean and free of dust.
Any topless metal shaker will do. Use a coil strainer to hold back the ice. You are going to swirl the shaker until you can no longer bear the cold, so you will want a fast pour. The shaker should be very clean.
Keep the vodka or gin in the freezer. Keep the vermouth (or Lillet) in the fridge.
Alright...You have your chilled ingredients, nice cold, "dry" ice, and all of your other stuff close to hand...Ready, steady, go...
1. Add ice to your glass, then water. Leave to chill.
2. Dump the ice and swing the glass to dry
3. Add a splash (or a few sprays) of vermouth and swirl the glass to coat.
4. Dump the vermouth
5. If adding skewered olive/s, do so now
6. Fill shaker with ice
7. Add liquor to shaker (according to the size of your glass), and immediately begin to swirl.
8. Swirl until the pain from the cold is too much. The shaker should frost.
9. Immediately strain into glass - ice crystals should dance on the surface
10. If you are using lemon, twist over glass to release oils, and drop into glass.
11. Serve immediately

So I made the martini, according to the directions above, and it came out perfectly...I even had the dancing ice flakes. However, I used Gin, and when I took a sip it was like drinking gasoline. Definitely a taste I'll never "acquire." Tomorrow I'm going to buy Belvedere vodka at Costco ($40 for a huge bottle and two Reidel (sp?) martini glasses). Perhaps vodka won't taste as awful. If it does, I'm sticking to Sapporo and red wine.

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