Saturday, 3 March 2012

March's Classic Cocktail - the Martini, AKA the drink James Bond ruined.

For my inaugural classic cocktail post, I figured I'd go with the ultimate classic: the martini.  This is one of my favourite cocktails, elegant, cold, and beautiful.

How to make the perfect martini is a bit of an obsession of mine; this is my current recipe.

First, the liquor. Dry white vermouth (I use Noilly Prat. No point in cheaping out on the vermouth, even the good stuff isn't that expensive, and it makes a huge difference!), and of course the gin. For this, I used Victoria Gin.

Side note on Victoria gin - It's from a small independent distillery in British Columbia. I thought it looked interesting, and it's absolutely delicious! If you see it, pick it up! It's a premium spirit though, so I won't be buying it too often. 

The garnish. My current top contender for martini garnishing are these blue cheese stuffed olives from Sardo. Huge, meaty, and delicious, they add a touch of tang and a bit of sourness to the glass. Some choose to garnish with a lemon twist, plain olives, or cocktail onions (which technically turns the drink into a Gibson rather than a martini). It's really down to what you like most.

To prepare the drink, most people reach for one of these:

And this is where the drink falls apart. *shakes fist at James Bond* Everyone knows that martinis are "shaken, not stirred" right?

I love watching Bond movies, and one night I was watching Sean Connery order his standard drink, and it hit me:  if everyone knows that martinis are shaken and not stirred, why did James Bond have to specify? I did some googling and it turns out, martinis are meant to be stirred. Theories say that shaking bruises the gin; I'm not sure about that, but I do know that it prevents ice chips from clouding the liquor, which means the drink looks prettier in the glass. It also incorporates less water into the drink - a stirred drink will be stronger and less diluted than a shaken one.

To do this right, what you want is a plain old pint glass and a butter knife. Not the most elegant of tools, but they're cheap, effective, and always available.

Fill a cocktail glass and the pint glass with ice.

Pour in the vermouth and gin in a 1:3 ratio. Use the knife to stir the drink for about 45 seconds.

Dump the ice out of the cocktail glass, place the knife on top of the glass like so, to hold the ice back, and pour into the waiting cocktail glass.

Add your choice of garnish, and enjoy!

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