The Classic Martini

February 21, 2010 (Day 22) — The Classic Martini

Before I get too far into this year-long project, it only makes sense in my mind to touch upon one of the most basic of all cocktails, the famous Martini.

From here comes thousands of cocktails.

So, of course, this means we’re all in store for another history lesson. From the excellent “The Art of the Bar

The exact story of where the Martini was born will be forever debated, but we think it was most likely a variation of the Martinez cocktail, developed by the legendary turn-of-the-century bartender Jerry Thomas in San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel sometime in the late 1800s.

Vague enough for you? Suffice it to say, what I will be making tonight is considered the most traditional of all dry martinis. Gin, not vodka. Dry vermouth — and just a dash. And if you think you’re going to be suave like Bond, don’t. The shaken martini bruises the delicate flavors of the gin. Stir it, like a gentleman, and sip. The recipe:

  • 2 oz gin
  • Dash of dry vermouth

Stir in mixing glass. Pour into chilled martini glass. Sip.

Chilled to perfection.

Now, I can’t overstate this enough. For this to be an enjoyable cocktail, you must invest the money in a solid gin for its base. If you’re wanting to make a classic martini using McCormick’s you’re in for a nasty shock. A nasty, lighter fluid-like shock. With just that dash of dry vermouth, the gin is main star in this drink. See that little bit of color in the photo above? That’s from your vermouth. Notice how you can see my hand warming up the other side of the glass? You’ll want your martini to be crystal clear.

Shake it like one Mr. James Bond? You get a fogginess to the drink, and the flavors become bruised and off-balance. While stirring doesn’t get the drink as cold as shaking it will, you also avoid the risk of watering down the drink with melted ice. That’s not to say you should never shake. There are several martinis I make that break this cardinal rule. But tonight, we’re all about the basics. And the basics say stir.

I chose Hendricks for my martini tonight, because it’s is one hell of a gin. It has killer herbal flavors, mixed with a smooth alcohol that doesn’t overpower the drink. Tribuno is kind of the gold standard for vermouth, so that one was a no-duh.

But, be careful. Like most classical cocktails that are nothing but alcohol, they CAN sneak up on you.

And seriously… avoid McCormicks. As one Web site I found described it “Christ-punchingly bad.”

Genieße das Leben ständig!
Du bist länger tot als lebendig!

— Mark


  1. […] I mean, with drinks themed after Alexander the Great, the Irish Coffee and the ubiquitous Martini, I’ll never miss the opportunity to throw out some shoddily-researched history on a cocktail. […]

  2. […] both are very very good. And, much like many other classic cocktails I’ve made, this is low on frills, high on getting you […]

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