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by Mr. Bibb

Classic MartinisAnyone hanging around me knows that I love a good martini. I love to drink them and I love to serve them. The classic martini is very simple, but for some reason, often poorly executed.

This is my take on the classics.

The Classic Vodka Martini

  • 3-4 Oz. Vodka (my favorites are Kettle One, Grey Goose, Imperial and Vox)
  • 1 cap full of dry vermouth

Pour all into a cocktail shaker full of ice and shake like hell until the shaker is too cold to hold.

Pour into a chilled martini glass. Serve with either 3 olives or a lemon twist.

The Classic Gin Martini

  • 3-4 Oz. Gin (my favorites are Hendricks and Bombay Sapphire)
  • 1 cap full of dry vermouth

Pour all into a cocktail pitcher with ice and stir gently until chilled.

Pour into a chilled martini glass and serve with 3 olives or a lemon twist. If you are using Hendricks, try serving with a couple of cucumber slices it brings out a unique flavor.

Yes, the gin martini is very similar to the vodka martini, but it varies at one very important point.

NEVER. EVER. Shake a gin martini. This is a mistake many inexperienced bartenders make.  Gin derives its dominant flavor from juniper berries and other delicate botanicals. It is the oil of these botanicals that gives gin its distinctive bite.  If you shake a gin martini, it breaks up the oils, “bruising” the gin. It will lose its flavor.  ALWAYS stir a gin martini.

Gin was the classic martini until the James Bond series popularized the use of vodka.  Gin was classically stirred, not shaken, to avoid “bruising” the gin. Vodka doesn’t contain such flavorful botanicals so you can shake the hell out of it – the more the better! So now you know the reason behind his famous line: “I will have mine shaken, not stirred.”

On a personal note, I use to think I didn’t like vermouth. I think I was a victim of hearing too many people say, “just wave the vermouth bottle over the top of the glass and that will be enough.”  Noel Coward suggested that a perfect martini be made by “filling a glass with gin (or vodka) then waving it in the general direction of Italy” or France (the two major producers of vermouth). Luis Buñuel considered it enough to “hold up a glass of gin next to a bottle of vermouth and let a beam of sunlight pass through.” The meaning, of course, is the less vermouth added to the gin or vodka, the better the resulting drink. I thought this all sounded pretty cool but I will confess, I actually like the taste of vermouth and I like a decent pour.  You can adjust this to your own taste.  A “dry martini” means very little vermouth.

To make martinis “dirty” simply add olive juice before you shake or stir. For a little “dirty” add just a few drops. For “stripper pole dirty” add a good pour. Pour some extra vermouth in and make it “wet and dirty.” I know my editor is going to cut any off-color comment I might make here so I am not even going to try!