Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Original & The Best: The Classic Martini

Looking back at my previous blog posts i realised that I've covered a wide variety of drinks. So when thinking about what i should write about next, i was shocked when i realised that I'd not even covered the classic martini. This is the "grand daddy" of all cocktails, it is almost the definition of cocktail.

The classic martini is probably the one drink that has had the single biggest influence on bar culture today. But with the status of being "the most famous cocktail of all-time", comes the many bartenders who claim to being the original creator of the martini. So there is no definitive explanation for this cocktails origins. However, I'll share with you one story which I've heard and like to believe. It involves the 'godfather' of mixology, Jerry Thomas. Jerry Thomas was a bartender who wrote and published the first ever cocktail book in 1862, "How to mix drinks". Thomas worked in San Francisco at the Occidental Hotel. It is said that in 1850, a traveller on his way to the town of Martinez, California stopped off at the hotel and asked Thomas to make him something special. Thomas proceeded to serve the man a drink which consisted of gin, vermouth, a dash of bitters and a maraschino cherry to garnish. Jerry Thomas named it 'the Martinez' after the town that the man was travelling too.  In 1870, the Martinez was adapted by Julio Richelieu. Richelieu took out the bitters and substituted the cherry for an olive, and the martini has never looked back from then.

Making the martini is simple. I'll go through the process which works best for me. Start with a shaker, add ice along with 30ml of vermouth. Stir the vermouth with the ice, the idea being is that you want to coat the ice with the vermouth. Once stirred well, strain the vermouth into a chilled martini glass (it's a good idea to have a couple of martini glasses pre-chilled in a fridge to save you a bit of time). Roll the vermouth around the inside of the glass, lining the glass, then discard. Now go back to your original shaker, pour 60ml of gin (or vodka, depending on what type of martini your making) over the ice and stir again. The longer your stir the more diluted your martini will be, therefore most probably easier to drink. Lastly, strain your shaker into your martini glass and garnish with either an olive or a lemon zest. I like to serve a martini with 3 olives. Tell the customer to eat the first olive at the start of the cocktail, the second olive when they get half way through, and the last olive at the very end of the drink. I've had good feedback from customers about doing this. I find it adds to the overall martini drinking experience.

I can not stress enough how important it is to use a good quality spirit in martini's.  Cheap booze will ruin your drink.  If your paying top dollar for a martini, you want value for money. My picks for quality gins are Tanqueray 10 or Plymouth Gin. As far as vodka's, I can't go past Grey Goose, but it's always up to your personal choice. Hope you enjoy your martini's.

In a Shaker:
Add Ice & 30ml Vermouth and stir
Strain vermouth into a chilled martini glass and rinse the glass with the vermouth.
Discard Vermouth
Add to original shaker, 60ml of Gin or Vodka
Stir well and strain into martini glass
garnish with olives or lemon zest.

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