A martini is a serious cocktail, here is my favorite way to make it! This is my definition of a Perfect Martini. With gin, obviously, and a twist of lemon.
The Martini is the Granddaddy to Them All
OK, don’t run away. I know that the martini can be intimidating. It’s so strong! It’s so serious! It tastes like booze! I know the cocktails I shared this month were on the frou-frou side, but I actually don’t always drink sweet cocktails. Let me tell you, there is definitely a time and place for a SERIOUS cocktail, and the martini is the granddaddy to them all.
When Mr. Briar and I lived in Portland there was a place called Bar Mingo that had an amazing happy hour. The food was so great, and really well priced during happy hour. They only had a few happy hour drinks, though, and one of them was a martini. This is where I learned to appreciate the martini, and exactly how I like them. Made with gin, obviously, and with a twist of lemon. Not an olive. The lemon gives it such a nice, clean flavor, and I don’t actually like olives, so it is better all around. Of course you can put an olive in there if you want, but at least try it with the twist, it really is so good.
You Want the Flavor of the Gin to Shine
We learned how to make this martini from Michael Ruhlman, and when we get the urge for one very strong drink this is how we make it. This martini is on the dry side, although there is plenty of argument out there about what makes a dry martini. I think a little vermouth is what makes it a martini and not just gin, but you want the flavor of the gin to shine, so not too much vermouth. We usually use the cap of the vermouth bottle to measure it, which I found out when making this recipe holds a quarter ounce. I like to zest the lemon right over the martini glass so that some of the lemon oils get in there, and you can also give the zest a little twist above the glass before throwing it in the drink in order to release some more oils.
James Bond was Wrong
It helps to chill your martini glasses, and if you can keep them in your freezer that is ideal. We did that until we moved into this apartment with the stupid side-by-side freezer that barely has room for anything. If you can’t keep them in the freezer, you can fill the glass with ice and water to chill while you make the drink, then toss it out right before pouring in your drink.
Also, you probably have heard this by now, but James Bond was wrong. You don’t shake the martini, but you do stir it, or even just swirl it gently. Shaking is great for other cocktails that are not clear, or have ingredients with different viscosity (oooh, look at me and my big words). But to retain that crystal clear look you don’t want to shake the martini, or it will get cloudy (and apparently you can “bruise” the gin? I don’t know…).
The Perfect Martini
- 3 ounces gin I prefer Hendricks
- 1/4 ounce dry vermouth
- strip of lemon zest
- In a pint glass or cocktail shaker, add ice, gin and vermouth. Allow them to sit, without shaking or stirring, for 2-3 minutes. You can swirl it a few times if you want.
- If you are zesting the lemon, do it right over the martini glass.
- Strain the martini into a chilled martini glass, give the lemon zest a twist over the glass and add it to the drink.
- Serve right away to your adoring fans.
Recipe slightly adapted from Michael Ruhlman
What are you doing New Years Eve? (PS, now you have that song stuck in your head, don’t you?)