Everything you ever wanted to know about the Martini* (*and we're glad you asked)
August 13, 2012 6:11 AM   Subscribe

Q: OK, I'm ready for the long answer now. A: A highly vocal minority of Martini drinkers, the Prescriptivists, insists that the short answer is in fact the only answer...
posted by gauche (135 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
If this didn't originate one usenet, I'll drink a martini.
Or soapy water.

Probably the soapy water. It tastes better.
posted by Mezentian at 6:16 AM on August 13, 2012


I have to admit, I've always wondered why a martini made with vodka wasn't named something else, since the taste is very different from a traditional gin-based martini. Vodka martinis always struck me as being martinis for people who don't actually like the taste of a martini.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:20 AM on August 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


I've heard a vodka martini called a Kangaroo cocktail, but the name doesn't have much sticking power.
posted by postcommunism at 6:25 AM on August 13, 2012


The vodka martini is a perfectly acceptable drink. It is not blasphemous or wrong or evil. It is, however, not "A martini." A martini is based on gin. It's like a catfish. There's nothing wrong with catfish; they're a legitimate animal that's allowed to exist. But they're not cats and it would be stupid to call them "cats."
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:26 AM on August 13, 2012 [26 favorites]


How much vermouth to use?

From my father: Pour the vermouth into the measuring utensil (e.g. shotglass), pour it back out, use same utensil to measure the gin.
If you want it drier than that, you have a friend drink some vermouth and then exhale into the glass.
If that's still not dry enough, simply pour the gin while facing France.

From The Talisman (paraphrased as best I could): Glass. Ice. Gin. Hold the bottle of vermouth next to the glass, then put it back.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:27 AM on August 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


I recall from a book that Winston Churchill's martini recipe went something like this:

Gin. Ice. Nod in the direction of France. Stir.
posted by gauche at 6:30 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


.....Homeopathically dry martinis. The vermouth gets more powerful the more you dilute it!
posted by lalochezia at 6:33 AM on August 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


Bunuel made sure the light passed through his bottle of vermouth on the way to his bottle of gin.
posted by OmieWise at 6:34 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now I'm going to be thirsty all day.
posted by rtha at 6:35 AM on August 13, 2012


Two parts gin, one part vermouth.

(Note: "part", as defined by the vermouth portion, may be subjective.)
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:36 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the fad of ultra-dry martinis is part and parcel with the whole "vodka martini" business- people who don't actually like the taste of gin + vermouth but who like to say the word 'martini'. (It is a fun word.)
posted by postcommunism at 6:40 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


The anti-vermouth rhetoric is funny, and I've repeated it many times. But. A martini is gin and vermouth. Not just gin. Plain cold gin, like cold vodka (with our without vermouth), is a worthy drink, but it is not the full majesty of a martini.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:41 AM on August 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


The correct answer is 4 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth. The olives are also an necessary part of the drink, as the salt of the cured olive offsets the cool crispness of the juniper berries in the gin.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:48 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


the salt and fat of the cured olive... EDIT WINDOW
posted by leotrotsky at 6:48 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing about the glass? When I make martinis at home I just use a regular low-ball glass (chilled in the freezer for a while) rather than a conical martini glass because I'm less likely to spill my drink.

You may now tell me three thousand reasons why this makes me a bad person.
posted by bondcliff at 6:53 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing like a giant hankering for a Martini at 9:00 am on Monday morning. Sigh.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:55 AM on August 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


You may now tell me three thousand reasons why this makes me a bad person.

I sometimes make a 'rocks' martini in a lowball glass with a big giant ice cube for when I want to read a silly magazine in a hot bathtub.

No spillage and the drink stays cold longer.
posted by device55 at 6:59 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Vodka has two legitimate uses:
1) destinking clothes too delicate for the washing machine
2) an olive-delivery device. I never did take to olives in a martini (here is where you learn I'm a prescriptivist--if it's not gin, it's not a martini). I like the twist.

(bondcliff--i prefer my manhattans at home in a whiskey tumbler, too, for the same reasons)
posted by crush-onastick at 7:00 AM on August 13, 2012


I just use a regular low-ball glass ... rather than a conical martini glass because I'm less likely to spill my drink.

You ... you monster, you!

(Actually, the FAQ addresses this. You should of course do what you like, but I am always fascinated to learn that something I've taken for traditional has functional and designed and intentional benefits.)

A Martini really should be served in a proper glass. For one thing, the traditional glass has functional aspects: its shallow, conical bowl forces one to sip the drink rather than tossing it back in large gulps, and the stem allows one to avoid holding the bowl, which would transmit heat to the drink, causing it to warm prematurely.
posted by gauche at 7:00 AM on August 13, 2012


When camping, I find that a metal coffee cup also helps keep my martini from getting warm to fast. Aside from that, I stick to tradition.
posted by freakazoid at 7:04 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Generally speaking, the people who famously advocated ridiculously small amounts of vermouth in their Martinis were also famously alcoholics. There's nothing wrong with a glass of chilled gin, but it ain't a Martini. In my experience, if you make someone a Martini at a 3:1, 2:1 or even 1:1 ratio of gin to fresh high-quality vermouth*, they will like it a lot better than what they've been drinking. Personally, I'm in pretty good company in thinking that Pegu Club's "Fitty-Fitty" Martini is as good as it gets: equal parts gin and vermouth, a short dash of orange bitters and a lemon twist.


* High quality dry vermouth for Martinis these days means Dolin Dry. Noilly Prat is a distant second and there is a steep dropoff after that.
posted by slkinsey at 7:04 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


I once made a Martini that was three parts gin to one part vermouth and one part Everclear.

It was a rough night.
posted by valkyryn at 7:05 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The vodka martini is a perfectly acceptable drink. It is not blasphemous or wrong or evil. It is, however, not "A martini." A martini is based on gin. It's like a catfish. There's nothing wrong with catfish; they're a legitimate animal that's allowed to exist. But they're not cats and it would be stupid to call them "cats."

Similarly, if I order catfish off the menu and you bring me a large steaming plate of broiled feline, my reaction to will be comparable to the reaction that I will have if I order a martini and you bring me a drink made with vodka.
posted by Mayor West at 7:05 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I once made a Martini that was three parts gin to one part vermouth and one part Everclear.

It was a rough night.


At least once in your life, you get the idea to spike the alcohol.

It is never as much fun as spiking the punch. It's like there's some sort of inverse square rule or something.
posted by gauche at 7:12 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


its shallow, conical bowl forces one to sip the drink rather than tossing it back in large gulps

Huh. So that's a feature, not a bug.
posted by bondcliff at 7:12 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's like a catfish. There's nothing wrong with catfish; they're a legitimate animal that's allowed to exist. But they're not cats and it would be stupid to call them "cats."

I actually don't care what any given drink is called, but your analogy doesn't really make sense. Your example of cat and catfish only works because catfish share almost no similarities to cats. Whereas the gin-based and vodka-based versions of the martini are in fact very similar, only having one very important difference. There are a lot of families of various types of drinks that share some similarities, even if there is a clear prototypical version of the drink. With the Long Island Iced Tea drink for example there is the Long Beach and numerous other differently-flavored versions that switch out cola for something else. The complicating factor for martinis is that the family name is martini as well, which is a conflict with the original gin-based drink. So a better analogy would be if the standard martini is a house cat and the vodka martini is a bobcat. Both fall under the family name of "cat", and it's reasonable to call either of them cats because of that. The naming confusion is mainly due to the fact that nobody uses an unambiguous name like "gin martini" or "classic martini" to refer to the gin-based version.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:18 AM on August 13, 2012


The naming confusion is mainly due to the fact that nobody uses an unambiguous name like "gin martini" or "classic martini" to refer to the gin-based version

Unfortunately, in many bars, ordering simply a "martini" will automatically get you the vodka version. With any luck, the bartender/waitperson will ask you "gin or vodka?", but I've learned to make double-sure that ordering a martini will, in fact, give you the proper gin drink.

And don't even get me started about being asked if I want my martini on the rocks. ROCKS!?!?! I mean.........my god.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:27 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can we all agree that people who use the word "martini" to mean "cocktail" should be driven forth from this fair city to live, sobbing and alone in the wilderness until death? It seems the only just approach to this horrible crime.

Bar managers who print cocktail menus labeled "Martini's" should, of course, be burned alive as a warning to others. Humanitarianism is all well and good, but one must have some principles.

And don't even get me started about being asked if I want my martini on the rocks. ROCKS!?!?! I mean.........my god.

I was on a date some years ago, and I ordered a Cosmopolitan, and the bartender asked if I wanted that made with vodka or sake. Since I was trying to make a good impression on my date, I limited my response to a bewildered "...the hell!?!" I suspect that bar owners should perhaps, be sent to the country for a decade or two for reeducation every so often, on the assumption that they have done something against laws, customs, or good taste.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:32 AM on August 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Something else I don't see in the FAQ: I don't go to bars very often so when I want a Martini, meaning a drink made with a decent gin (I like Bombay), vermouth and an olive or two, what do I ask for? As someone else said, asking for a "martini" seems to go over as well as going to a restaurant and asking for "food."
posted by bondcliff at 7:33 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was Dorothy Parker. She said a lot of good stuff.

This is the most delightful understatement I've read in recent memory.
posted by ominous_paws at 7:35 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't go to bars very often so when I want a Martini, meaning a drink made with a decent gin (I like Bombay), vermouth and an olive or two, what do I ask for?

The sure thing would be to request a Bombay martini. That way, you know you will be getting a gin martini, albeit you will also be paying a premium charge for your call.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:39 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Keeping only the first two letters of the name, I make my martini very dry with Wild Turkey Rye* (Russel's Reserve when available). A dash of orange bitters and dry vermouth (not sweet) swished around a shot glass and tipped out**, followed by two measures of the whiskey over ice, shaken, and strained into a proper martini glass. The cherries stay in the jar in the fridge.

Surprisingly, many Prescriptivists actually approve of this over the vodka version.

* Old Overholt is too sweet.
** As opposed to simply poured out. This cocktail needs a bit more than just residue to balance the sharp rye of Wild Turkey.

"you will also be paying a premium charge for your call"

No martini purist should ever order a well martini.
posted by Ardiril at 7:42 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was on a date some years ago, and I ordered a Cosmopolitan, and the bartender asked if I wanted that made with vodka or sake.

I suppose you could not quite force your mouth to form the words "If I'd wanted a cosmo saketini, I would have asked for one."

I mean, all I had to do is type it and I'm still shuddering. People who invent drink names with the "-tini" suffix are all going to the special hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater.
posted by gauche at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The sure thing would be to request a Bombay martini. That way, you know you will be getting a gin martini, albeit you will also be paying a premium charge for your call.

Right, that's also a good way to make sure your rum and coke is with Bacardi or something rather than Captain Morgan's. If you want to specify a type of alcohol without specifying the brand and get the cheapest one you can always ask for the well brand.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:43 AM on August 13, 2012


I once made a Martini that was three parts gin to one part vermouth and one part Everclear.

It was a rough night.


So was the martini cause or effect of said rough night?
posted by Rangeboy at 7:44 AM on August 13, 2012


TIL that I'm a prescriptivist, at least when it comes to Martinis.
posted by lordrunningclam at 7:52 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I spent almost two decades behind the bar. I started at the end of the cocktail era so I learned and used a number of the classic recipes. Though cloaked in much myth and mystery, the Martini was one of the least interesting concoctions. It was widely acknowledged amongst mixologists that as the recipe had become drier and drier it had pretty much ceased being a cocktail and instead was little more than a raw slug of gin (which may not be a bad thing if you really like gin). But even at near classic 50/50 proportions with superior ingredients it never interested me as much as, say, a Negroni or even the humble Gin and It. In any case, I was known for my Rob Roy...
posted by jim in austin at 7:53 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


But. A martini is gin and vermouth.

No.

A Martini has four things. If any of the four things is missing, the drink is not a Martini. If anything else than the four things is added, the drink is not a Martini, but may be a Modified Martini.

The four things.

1) Gin. In Significant Quantities.

2) White Vermouth. In Significant Quantities. 1:6 is a good ratio to start with, but anything over 1:10 means that you are not drinking a Martini.

3) Melted water from the ice you poured 1&2 on. In Significant Quantities. Because, that gin and vermouth *will* melt a lot of ice, and that water significantly changes the taste. Gin and Vermouth shots are not a Martini.

4) A garnish. A twist, or perhaps an olive or three. Never two. No, I don't know why. Never two. Some things, good sirs and madams, must be accepted because they simply are.

Any drink not containing these four things, or any drink adding something that is not these four things, is not a Martini. Thus, the Gibson, which fails #4, is not a Martini. It's a fine thing, but it is *not* a Martini, and unlike nonsense like the "vodka martini", does not pretend to be what it is not.

People who say "I have a right to drink what I want" are correct, and I welcome them to do so. There are times I've had cold wet gin (that is, I lacked #2 above) and it was a fine thing.

People who say "I have the right to call it what I want" are correct, but are heathen and abusers of the language and of one of the two great cocktails that this mighty nation has given unto the world. Cast them from you bar and go back to serving upstanding, honest drinkers. Names are important. If you give in on this, then you're looking at Scotch in Manhattans, Canadian Whiskey in Maitais, and the end of civilization as we know it.

A Dirty Martini is a Martini with added Olive Juice. It is also tasty, but I digress. By this measure, a Vodka Martini is a Martini with added Vodka. Which would be silly, to be honest, but if you wanted one, a Martini with added Vodka, I would have no problem with you calling it a Vodka Martini, and I would serve it to you with pride, as a member who understands the importance of language and consistency, and I would feel for the situation that required one to tie another hammer to the hammer you were about to apply to your skull, but an honest drinker drinks honestly, and appreciates and supports those who do.

Winston Churchill apparently never had a Martini. Sad for him.

Now, you may not like Martinis. That is fine. I know a number of people, upstanding honest drinkers to a person, who do not. Gin is, like all herbal infused liquors, a thing that you either like or don't like, and if you don't like it, it is silly for you to drink it in the matter of correctness. Which, in this case, means, 'don't order a martini.' I'd suggest the other great American cocktail, the Manhattan, as a start. To be honest, though, I would also suggest trying different gins, first -- gins vary wildly in herbal profile, and thus, in taste. I dislike Beefeater, and while I love the taste of Tanqueray, I don't like the stabbing pains in my stomach, so I avoid that. Bombay Sapphire and Door County are, to me, fine examples of the drink, and there are many others. However, the core flavor is juniper, and if you don't like that, you don't like gin, and you shouldn't drink it, and you really don't want to drink a Martini.

If those who want Vodka and Vermouth want to come up with a name for this drink that replaces #1 above with Vodka, I am all for it, as long as it does not contain the word "Martini." A Martini has the Four Ingredients, it always has, and it always will. I would suggest you avoid any construct ending in "-tini" because, well, it should be a serious name.

To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of Vodka as a class. It basically exists to make things alcoholic. It doesn't bring any native flavor. Now, you may be thinking about "Well what about spiced, or flavored vodkas" and that when I go "But they're not vodka!"

What is Gin? It's neutral spirits with herbal flavors. A different profile of such is Aquavit. There are many liquors in the world based on "Add X to basically Vodka and wait" and they have names, and Gin is one of them -- indeed, possibly the king of them.

Vodka, however, was that distilled spirit without. It's honest, in that way -- until you flavor it and don't give it a new name. If you want orange flavored Vodka, it's called a Screwdriver. But, in terms of cocktails, it doesn't bring flavors of it's own. You can't make an Old Fashioned with only vodka. You can't make a Daquiri with only vodka. Why, then, do certain people thing you can make a Martini with only vodka?

"FAQs" like the above I simply class as FIAQs -- Frequently Incorrectly Answered Questions. The only correct answer is the above. A Martini has four things, and only four things. Indeed, if one decides to call the drink that replaces #1 above with vodka a Fiaq, I'd be right there with you.

Compromise? My dear, I do not drink cheap liquor. Why do you think I would ever compromise on this?

Whereas the gin-based and vodka-based versions of the martini are in fact very similar, only having one very important difference.

So, you're positing a Rye Martini? (My deepest apologies to Manhattan drinkers for the thought.)

My favorite nonsense is the "vodka martini," without gin and "ultra dry," without vermouth. What you are drinking is a chilled shot of vodka with water. If that's what you want, that's what you ask for. If I were serving and you did that, I would probably comp you the first one, because you are a fine upstanding drinker who likes cold wet vodka and isn't afraid to say so -- unlike the heathens who are apparently ashamed of cold wet vodka and try to dress it up as an "ultra-dry vodka martini."

Feh.
posted by eriko at 7:58 AM on August 13, 2012 [101 favorites]


While you people get all indignant and apoplectic about what other people are calling their drinks, I'll be over here in the corner quietly enjoying mine.
posted by rocket88 at 8:00 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nothing says "crappy bartender" like asking what kind of vodka would I like in my martini. Drives me nuts. And I've actually had bartenders argue with me about it.
posted by kjs3 at 8:01 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a place in New York City, near St Mark's, where - if you can find it - you will find the One True Martini.

Also, Keane's makes a good one.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:02 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Martini really should be served in a proper glass. For one thing, the traditional glass has functional aspects: its shallow, conical bowl forces one to sip the drink rather than tossing it back in large gulps, and the stem allows one to avoid holding the bowl, which would transmit heat to the drink, causing it to warm prematurely.

A martini glass forces you to sip the drink by otherwise risking a spill. Given that the glass is usually served near full to people are often keen on getting drunk while surrounded by other drunk people in a crowded, noisy, dim room, I'm not sure the benefit outweighs the risk. And people tend to hold the glass by the bowl anyway, since holding it by the stem is too unsteady.

It's almost the worst possible design for a glass, in my opinion. I say serve martinis in a highball or Old Fashioned glass. At the very least use a champagne cocktail glass (i.e. like a regular cocktail glass but with a vertical or near-vertical lip). The purists can signal their purity by sipping the drink despite the glass making it possible to gulp it down, and nobody has to worry about spilling the thing.
posted by jedicus at 8:05 AM on August 13, 2012


perhaps an olive or three. Never two. No, I don't know why. Never two.

There is an Italian superstition that things served in even numbers are bad hospitality and unlucky: for instance espresso beans in sambuca are always meant to be odd numbers, usually three. I wonder if there's a similar superstition about olives.
posted by gauche at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find I don't care for dry Martinis. A Vesper is about as dry as I can enjoy. I only recently learned what "bianco" vermouth is, as opposed to dry, and learned I prefer Martinis made with it instead. Although even better, at home I often make a cocktail of 2oz gin and 1oz St. Germain liqueur, which is just lovely.
posted by dnash at 8:15 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Keeping only the first two letters of the name, I make my martini very dry with Wild Turkey Rye

That's not a martini, it's a Manhattan.
posted by valkyryn at 8:16 AM on August 13, 2012


So was the martini cause or effect of said rough night?

Yes.
posted by valkyryn at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


I believe I may have spoken here before about the boutique-hotel bar in Malta where I ordered a gin Martini and received a glass of Martini Rosso with a shot of gin in it.

I don't recommend it.
posted by Hogshead at 8:20 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Very dry martini" is the way polite drunks say "gin shots". Getting all shirty about how your shots of ice cold gin are prepared is a bit precious.

But the real interesting thing about a martini is which gin you use. We're in a real renaissance of gin in the US, we're a long way from Beefeater and Sapphire being the only choices. Flavors vary widely, and there's as much variety in gins as there is in, say, tea. So many interesting varieties... Hendrick's has quickly established itself in bars and is a lovely choice. There's a zillion smaller gin brands too like No. 209, Anchor's Junipero, St. George, etc. It's a good thing there's so much variety in gins, because the rest of a martini makes for a pretty uninteresting cocktail.
posted by Nelson at 8:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's not a martini, it's a Manhattan.


I think that's the exact joke they were trying to make.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh man, this cocktails and olives business not only makes me itch towards my homebar but also remindes me of Danny and Brett's (The Persuaders) first meeting in a bar in France.

/slightly off topic
posted by ZeroAmbition at 8:25 AM on August 13, 2012


I believe I may have spoken here before about the boutique-hotel bar in Malta where I ordered a gin Martini and received a glass of Martini Rosso with a shot of gin in it.

Gin & It
posted by jim in austin at 8:28 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


A martini glass forces you to sip the drink by otherwise risking a spill. Given that the glass is usually served near full to people are often keen on getting drunk while surrounded by other drunk people in a crowded, noisy, dim room, I'm not sure the benefit outweighs the risk.

You are probably frequenting bars which serve their "martinis" in unwieldy bathtub-sized cones that violate all sense of proportion. A true martini glass is a diminutive thing and balances quite well in the hand...almost as if someone designed it to do so.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Auntie Mame says olives take up too much room in such a small glass.
posted by dnash at 8:33 AM on August 13, 2012


I like arguing about martinis almost as much as I like drinking them.
posted by device55 at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I sat next to a guy at a banquet some years ago, who was the CEO of a startup that was allegedly going to build a factory to build electric buses. I had heard his pitch in various chamber of commerce type meetings. He had been very good in attracting endorsements and government funding (we had a "job creator" in our midst!), but I thought there were holes in his story and that the enterprise would not fly. At this particular banquet, when the waitress came around taking drink orders, he asked for a "chocolate martini." That clinched it for me, the guy was a fake. And indeed, the startup went belly up not long afterward. Not only that, but, having lost track of this fellow some time ago, I just Googled him and discovered that he recently became a guest in a federal klink.
posted by beagle at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ya sure did gin up some outrage (and thirst), gauche.
posted by Mister_A at 8:40 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest the other great American cocktail, the Manhattan, as a start.
Except that most places, you won't get a Manhattan; you'll get a drink made with Bourbon and sweet vermouth. If you ask for rye, the bartender will look confused and say, "Well, we have Black Velvet."
You are probably frequenting bars which serve their "martinis" in unwieldy bathtub-sized cones that violate all sense of proportion. A true martini glass is a diminutive thing and balances quite well in the hand...almost as if someone designed it to do so.
I spent several years searching for regular old-fashioned, reasonably-sized martini glasses, but all you can find at kitchen/houseware/big box stores are those ridiculous vat-sized things. I wound up finding some proper martini glasses at Dollar Tree, of all places.
posted by usonian at 8:41 AM on August 13, 2012


I approve of the "chocolate martini" as a crime worthy of federal prison.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:46 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


A short collection of martini links:

Recipes
The Buñuel Martini
The FDR Special
Hoffman House
Coudal Perfect Martini
Hemingway's Montgomery

Other
A SFGate survey of martini manufacturing methods
In Search of the Auden Martini
Could any tiger

Drink martinis, smoke cigars,

And last as we do?
posted by zamboni at 8:47 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except that most places, you won't get a Manhattan; you'll get a drink made with Bourbon and sweet vermouth. If you ask for rye, the bartender will look confused and say, "Well, we have Black Velvet."

I once had a bartender try to put vodka in my Manhattan. Since then if they ask about any of the essential ingredients, I ask for a gin and tonic instead, since icy tonic is the worst thing that could happen.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:48 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


usonian:
I'd suggest the other great American cocktail, the Manhattan, as a start.
Except that most places, you won't get a Manhattan; you'll get a drink made with Bourbon and sweet vermouth. If you ask for rye, the bartender will look confused and say, "Well, we have Black Velvet."
Still not a Manhattan, which requires bitters.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:52 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I suppose you could not quite force your mouth to form the words "If I'd wanted a cosmo saketini, I would have asked for one."

I can barely force my eyes to read, my brain to comprehend, or my control-C to copy that sentence!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:54 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's likely because I haven't read this thread closely enough, but I am shocked (SHOCKED!) that The American Standard Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis (K100.1-1966) has not been broached yet. This wonderful document is, in fact, the last official Standard published by the American Standards Association before dissolving to become part of the ISO, and was (of course) put out by the Liquids Subcommittee. Revel in engineers at work.
posted by thecustodian at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Still not a Manhattan, which requires bitters.

Quoted for truth. Also, if I get another shaken Manhattan I won't be responsible for what I do.

I don't know when it was, exactly, that bartenders forgot how to stir and decided that no drink was mixed unless it had been shaken into a chipped-ice froth, but if I ever get my hands on a time machine, stopping that from happening is pretty damn high on the list.
posted by gauche at 8:57 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I learned the hard way that when one orders "a martini" in many places in continental Europe, what one receives is a glass of Martini Rosso sweet vermouth on ice. The first time that happened to me I felt the sudden involuntary urge to leap over the bar and beat the bartender about the head with a full bottle of Bombay that was sitting there, right there you bastard, on the shelf behind him.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:58 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


eriko: Everything you said, for emphasis.

Except that I name the cocktail made with mostly vodka, some noticeable vermouth, and a garnish (that is not an onion*) as a "vodka martini", because there is no better name. It's not "a martini", anymore than a glass of strawberry milk is what I expect if I order "milk". But the terms for those drinks are "vodka martini" and "strawberry milk".

And people who make jokes about how dry they like their martinis are posers, who think they love "good beer", but barely know anything beyond Guinness, and judge a cigar purely by its diameter.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:58 AM on August 13, 2012


*OOPS: with an onion, it's a Gibson.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:59 AM on August 13, 2012


I don't know when it was, exactly, that bartenders forgot how to stir and decided that no drink was mixed unless it had been shaken into a chipped-ice froth, but if I ever get my hands on a time machine, stopping that from happening is pretty damn high on the list.

I think all you need to do is go back and prevent the production of Cocktail.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:00 AM on August 13, 2012


Why is a vodka martini called a Kangaroo? Australia isn't known for its vodka.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:04 AM on August 13, 2012


Vodka martinis always struck me as being martinis for people who don't actually like the taste of a martini.

I think this is true of a lot of vodka-based drinks (i.e., they are for people who don't like the taste of alcohol). There's an old saw among bartenders: "How you do make a vodka-based cocktail taste better? Use gin instead of vodka." I think this tends to be true, personally.
posted by asnider at 9:05 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always enjoyed a Gibson, and also a Perfect martini, in which half of the dry vermouth is replaced with sweet vermouth. Also, my martinis contain a dash (or less) of bitters.

If you enjoy a Vesper, you may enjoy adding one drop of orange bitters to it, as well.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:06 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why is a vodka martini called a Kangaroo?

Kangaroos love vodka and hate gin. No one really knows why, but the theory is that it a reaction to British Colonialism is almost certainly wrong.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:06 AM on August 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


LEMON?

OLIVE, DAMMIT!

I am appalled. I can read no further.
posted by Decani at 9:18 AM on August 13, 2012


That's not a martini, it's a Manhattan.

What Adril makes isn't a Manhattan as I would understand it. If a bartender served me that as a Manhattan, I'd send it back.

He's mixing dry (white) vermouth, not the sweet (red) kind. Dry vermouth has a somewhat bitter flavour profile that mixes well with gin, but I find astringent with a rye. I've tried it once, and was not fond of the result. Red and white vermouth are really not the same thing at all.

You wouldn't make a Negroni with dry vermouth either, for the same reason (though do try a Negroni with grapefruit soda---for some reason the grapefruit bitter works really well).
posted by bonehead at 9:19 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Coudal Perfect Martini

This is one of the most disgusting things I've ever read. Club soda, blue cheese, and vodka?! Fuck off.
posted by dobbs at 9:22 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was on a date some years ago, and I ordered a Cosmopolitan, and the bartender asked if I wanted that made with vodka or sake.

A lot of restaurants in my area (which is majority Korean) will do cocktails with soju in place of vodka. In some cases it's the default for their house / happy-hour-special drinks. It surprised me the first few times I had them. Though I'm not a huge fan, in the sense of it being something that I'd make at home, I've decided that in general it's probably preferable to have a drink made with decent soju rather than shitty vodka, and certainly than with crap gin. So, when in Rome...
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:28 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


And don't even get me started about being asked if I want my martini on the rocks. ROCKS!?!?! I mean.........my god.

I once had the misfortune of going to a lounge where their "thing" was to serve EVERY COCKTAIL KNOWN TO MAN with little bits of ice in it, regardless of whether or not that was actually proper. And not big chunks of ice that would keep the drink cold without melting fast enough to really dilute it, but small little flakes of ice.

After the first Manhattan (or maybe the second, I can't recall) I switched to beer.
posted by asnider at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2012


I am definitely in the gin camp, but I have to say of all the indignities that the martini has suffered lately, vodka is probably the least of them.
posted by TedW at 9:31 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can I tell you what's messed up about James Bond?(youtube)

I disagree with President Bartlet. Shaking the drink fractures the ice, increasing the surface area and chilling it faster. It also dilutes the drink more, which is a good thing when dealing with cocktails made entirely with alcohol. It allows the flavors to be more perceptible, instead of being overwhelmed by the alcohol.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of my all-time favourite cocktails labours under the unfortunate name of "Polish Martini" (equal parts Zubrovka, Krupnik honey liqueur and cloudy apple juice, shaken over ice), but contains only one of the essential ingredients of a real Martini (the ice-melt). So I guess I'll have to live with nonstandard Martinis...

(A professor at the University I got my PhD at told me that his fridge contains an unopened bottle of dry vermouth, and that if he wants a dry Martini, he pours gin into the shaker with his fridge door open. If he wants a very dry Martini, he calls his brother in law, and asks him to open his fridge door (containing a similar bottle) as he pours...)
posted by Omission at 9:41 AM on August 13, 2012


To chime in on vodka martinis: I have mixed feelings about the whole "vodka martini" thing (in terms of the name, not the drink). On the one hand, if a Gibson is simply a martini with a different garnish, then using an entirely difference base alcohol surely merits a unique name. On the other hand, we've got things like the tequila gimlet, which is a gimlet that uses tequila instead of gin. If that can stick, why not vodka martini -- a drink which is arguably more classic than a tequila gimlet?

On the, um, third hand, the very existence of the name "vodka martini" is probably what has led to all of the various "martinis" that, while perhaps fine cocktails, are definitely not martinis (chocolate martini, strawberry martini, etc.). That is a fairly unforgivable crime.
posted by asnider at 9:41 AM on August 13, 2012


This is one of the most disgusting things I've ever read. Club soda, blue cheese, and vodka?! Fuck off.

It is always important to read all of the directions before starting.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:41 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nothing like a giant hankering for a Martini at 9:00 am on Monday morning. Sigh.

It's my birthday, so I'm doing this guilt free.

True story from the second world war:

The Royal Navy's survival kits in its life rafts didn't include anything like fresh water, food or lights. No. Instead, they included the following:

1 Cocktail shaker
2 A small bottle of London Dry Gin
3 A small bottle of Vermouth
4 Instructions saying simply "Mix"

When they were stranded, sailors would begin mixing the ingredients and immediately be surrounded by ships and aircraft from hundreds of miles around, all blaring the message in a dozen languages: "That's NOT how you mix a martini!"

Saved thousands of lives, those kits.
posted by generichuman at 9:42 AM on August 13, 2012 [33 favorites]


All this martini talk is making me miss a REAL martini. If none of you have ever had the original kind, here's how you do it: Take one ounce of cotton-candy-flavor vokda and pour it into a tall glass. Put a few mint leaves at the bottom. USE ONLY FRESH MINT. This is IMPORTANT. Now fill the glass with ice, and carefully -- CAREFULLY -- pour over about 3 ounces of diet Dr. Pepper. It MUST be DIET Dr. Pepper; I've tried it with the full-sugar kind (when I'm feeling sinful!) but it really doesn't do the drink justice for some reason. Now add a couple of drops of agave syrup (for a kick!), and top with banana schnapps. So amazing! This is the only way to make the traditional martini; this gin stuff is kind of ridiculous. If a bartender tries to make some weird bastardized version of this, I just send it back. In fact, find I actually have to teach a lot of bartenders how to make this! Guess no one drinks real martinis any more.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:43 AM on August 13, 2012 [32 favorites]


generichuman wins the thread. Happy Birthday!
posted by gauche at 9:43 AM on August 13, 2012


Greg Nog, if you put whipped cream on top of that, it's no longer a martini - it's a Lord Bollingbrooke.
posted by Mister_A at 9:45 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Auntie Mame also says to alwayts stir, never shake. Shaking bruises the gin.
posted by Graygorey at 9:47 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


After the first Manhattan (or maybe the second, I can't recall) I switched to beer.

Which came with a wedge of lime squeezed into the neck, whether or not you asked for it? I sometimes hate bars...
posted by Thorzdad at 9:48 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Still not a Manhattan, which requires bitters.
<monocle>Well of course, Sir! I thought the bitters went without saying.</monocle>
posted by usonian at 9:53 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm with the prescriptivists on this one. I was out with a friend the other night and he ordered a Sidecar, a drink he knows pretty well, one of the classics. We should have guessed by the look we got from the waitress, but she's not the bartender so... anywho the drink is pretty bad, so friend says (politely) take it away. Waitress asks (again politely) what't the problem, so my friend says it doesn't taste anything like a sidecar. Waitress says, "Probably because our sidecar is basically a lemondrop made with rum".
Will never drink there again.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:57 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which came with a wedge of lime squeezed into the neck, whether or not you asked for it? I sometimes hate bars...

This can be avoided in one of two ways:
posted by asnider at 9:57 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what am I supposed to do if I'm at a bar, order a martini, and the server comes back with a vodka drink?

Can I send it back without sounding pretentious? I'm not a drink snob, I just like a tasty martini. Is it my responsibility to check with the server when ordering?
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:57 AM on August 13, 2012


Well of course, Sir! I thought the bitters went without saying.

If only. I consider myself quite lucky if I order one and the bartender asks if I want bitters or not, and I feel utterly blessed if they just put them in without asking.

But I can live with a Manhattan without the bitters, if I have to. What I can't abide, though, is when they reach for the bin of the neon glowing "Maraschino" cherries and attempt to pour some of that vile sugary juice from it into the drink.
posted by dnash at 9:59 AM on August 13, 2012


"Probably because our sidecar is basically a lemondrop made with rum".

The worst part is that a traditional sidecar doesn't even use rum! Although, I must admit that I personally prefer rum sidecars to the traditional version.
posted by asnider at 9:59 AM on August 13, 2012


Is it my responsibility to check with the server when ordering?

If you wish to avoid frustration and spare the embarrassment of the bartender (and avoid a drink with spit in it) always specify the base liquor by brand and type when ordering.

For example: "I'd like a Hendrick's gin martini, up, with a twist"

There is very little room for error. If someone messes up that order, they clearly weren't listening, or they mean you ill will.

Bear in mind, bartenders are not mind readers. Most morons citizens who come into a bar looking for a 'martini' either mean 'vodka martini' or 'arbitrary cocktail in a cocktail glass' because they have been led wrong by society and James Bond movies.
posted by device55 at 10:08 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Waitress says, "Probably because our sidecar is basically a lemondrop made with rum".

And therein is illustrated the main problem with most bars in the US today. Almost universally, they only know how to mix the "drunk sorority girl" drinks. If the drink you ask for doesn't have some combination of vodka, bar mix, and fruit flavoring of some sort so that it doesn't taste like alcohol, the bartenders are utterly clueless. I have actually had to walk a bartender through how to make a Manhattan. It's just depressing.

There's a another use for the earlier-mentioned time machine...go back and eliminate any chance the creator of bar mix of ever being born.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:08 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I once stalked out of a restaurant in a huff because they had chicken wings served in a martini glass and called it a wingtini.

(Actually I was only trying to use the bathroom and they wouldn't let me BUT STILL.)
posted by elizardbits at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


People who invent drink names with the "-tini" suffix are all going to the special hell reserved for child molesters and people who talk in the theater.

I wouldn't go quite that far in vilifying fake-tini makers and drinkers. However, my opinion of them is about the same as of people who write "defiantly" when they mean "definitely" and people whose trucks have bootleg Calvin pissing on a Ford logo.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:14 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the immortal words of Hawkeye Pierce (quoted from memory): "I want a dry, arid, barren, dust bowl of a martini. A martini that could be declared a disaster area. A drink that is dying of thirst."
posted by Zonker at 10:15 AM on August 13, 2012


people who write "defiantly" when they mean "definitely"

I am a constant misspeller of "definitely" and I misspell it in such a way that my spell checker always suggests defiantly when it's correcting me. I suspect this is what's happening a lot of the time. It's not a there/their or your/you're situation. Honest.

I'm with you on the fake-tinis and the peeing Calvins though.
posted by bondcliff at 10:20 AM on August 13, 2012


Ahh, Peeing Calvin. Equal parts Midori, vodka, sloe gin, rootbeer schnapps, lint, bubble gum, dog food, and orange juice. Served over ice in a rusty metal bucket.
posted by Mister_A at 10:32 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


In the 1950's there was a brief craze for something known as a Dillitini garnished with a pickled legume known as a dilly bean (I actually learned this one in bartending school)...
posted by jim in austin at 10:39 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


(A professor at the University I got my PhD at told me that his fridge contains an unopened bottle of dry vermouth, and that if he wants a dry Martini, he pours gin into the shaker with his fridge door open. If he wants a very dry Martini, he calls his brother in law, and asks him to open his fridge door (containing a similar bottle) as he pours...)

Thus proving that a dry martini story requires an additional ingredient: the emphatic eyeroll.

Can we say just say that the first truly dry martini will be poured by Curiosity when Mars is at perihelion and the closest bottle of vermouth is at aphelion? And when both are in opposition at aphelion it’s just fricking gin.

After said telling of joke further iterations will call for a swift kick in the cooch (or, if you prefer vodka, a punch in the dick).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:06 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Previous Martini thread (worth it for this comment).
posted by TedW at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2012


If a customer asked me for some sort of super extra crackling dry Martini I would, for our mutual amusement, lean over the mixing glass while I poured the gin and whisper vermouth...
posted by jim in austin at 11:34 AM on August 13, 2012


asnider: On the one hand, if a Gibson is simply a martini with a different garnish, then using an entirely difference base alcohol surely merits a unique name.
Come up with one, popularize it so that I can order it in any proper bar in America, and I swear on a stack of dead bible-thumpers I'll never say "vodka martini" again.
On the, um, third hand, the very existence of the name "vodka martini" is probably what has led to all of the various "martinis" that, while perhaps fine cocktails, are definitely not martinis (chocolate martini, strawberry martini, etc.).
No doubts there.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:39 AM on August 13, 2012


We have discovered the perfect Martini. Now can someone direct me to a bar where they know how to make a Gin Rickey without me explaining the damn thing?

(I always went with Tom Lehrer's proportions - Six Parts Gin to One Part Vermouth)
posted by Hactar at 11:41 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Isn't a Calvin whatever the bartender wants it to be? (But you can't make it the same way twice.)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:43 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I saw this chart for the bloody mary, I immediately hoped someone would do the same for the martini. Many people take their martinis very seriously, so it's not an entirely vain hope.
posted by RobotHero at 11:49 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm totally on board with the nerd taxonomy rage! I don't even care for martinis that much but I feel pretty strongly, if you're making something that's different from the classic gin martini, yeah, call it something different. You don't have to come up with a clever name, "vodka martini" is fine. Just call it something different.

I guess it's too late for anyone to ever be able to order a martini unambiguously again.
posted by aubilenon at 12:00 PM on August 13, 2012


all of the various "martinis" that, while perhaps fine cocktails, are definitely not martinis (chocolate martini, strawberry martini, etc.)

At a lot of bars -- and, I suspect, in the minds of a great many people -- a "martini" is any drink served in a cocktail glass (aka "martini glass"), rather than and regardless of any combination of ingredients. While I don't agree with this, I think the ship has probably sailed, hit the iceberg, and the band is currently gargling salt water.

And I think a big reason for this is that (traditional, gin based) martinis have a very sexy image, but are frankly a bit of an acquired taste. And so bartenders, in a pretty understandable effort to appeal to their younger and spendier clientele, have invented all the "-tini" drinks: they capitalize on the perceived sexiness of the martini while in reality being totally unrelated -- and in some cases quite respectable and traditional -- cocktails. And also tend to be a lot less strong than a true dry martini ... which, if you sat down and drank 4 or 5 of them with the rapidity that I've seen inexperienced drinkers put down appletinis and chocotinis and other pseudo-tinis, you'd be well on your way to a rough evening.

But as long as we're talking martini recipes and James Bond, I think it's right to point out that the original "James Bond martini," aka a "Vesper", is made with both vodka and gin, and even in the universe of the book is sort of a strange and nontraditional drink (and never called a martini). If you're interested in trying it, the Wikipedia page gives some suggestions for getting around the unavailability of Kina Lillet and 94-proof Gordons, both of which have been nerfed since the 50s. (Esquire suggests Lillet Blanc and a dash of bitters, and using Tanqueray instead of modern Gordons.) It's not bad.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:05 PM on August 13, 2012


I have actually had to walk a bartender through how to make a Manhattan. It's just depressing.

I once had a bartender reach for his mixology bible after I ordered a Manhattan. It only has two ingredients*, for god's sake, why do you need your manual!? And this was a bar where cocktails were ordered frequently! (Beer was still the choice of most patrons, but cocktails were very popular, as well.)

* Yes, I know that a proper Manhattan actually has three ingredients (four, if you're including the ice-melt), but I've long given up on actually getting bitters in my drink if I'm not making it at home; if it happens, I'm pleasantly surprised, if it doesn't, well, I can live with it.
posted by asnider at 12:48 PM on August 13, 2012


I've had bartenders ask me to walk them through a manhattan--under those circumstances, I always change my order to bourbon in a glass.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:11 PM on August 13, 2012


I've long given up on actually getting bitters in my drink if I'm not making it at home

When I drink a Manhattan out and I don't trust the place, I order it with some specificity by showing the basic amounts with my fingers: "Manhattan on the rocks. Sweet vermouth (here I hold thumb and index finger about 3/4 of an inch apart), rye (now like 3 inches apart), a dash of bitters."

Despite having worked in food service for, well, long enough, I have no real idea whether this one makes me an asshole customer or not, and I kind of don't care.
posted by gauche at 1:15 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


And this was a bar where cocktails were ordered frequently!

Yes, but I would wager they were of the Long Island Iced Tea or Electric Lemonade ilk, and not a proper cocktail.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:17 PM on August 13, 2012


Yes, but I would wager they were of the Long Island Iced Tea or Electric Lemonade ilk, and not a proper cocktail.

Probably. But, at the same time, the bartenders were not afraid to be inventive. A friend once asked the bartender there to invent something for her. He did. It was OK, and with a few tweaks suggested by my friend, it turned out pretty good. I'm pretty sure that they haven't actually added the "Nicoletta" to the menu, though.
posted by asnider at 1:22 PM on August 13, 2012


Can I send it back without sounding pretentious? I'm not a drink snob, I just like a tasty martini. Is it my responsibility to check with the server when ordering?

Theoretically they should use gin or they should ask your preference. If they don't ask and use vodka try a tv-free bar next time.

However, best to just order a "gin martini" or specify your gin: "Tanqueray Ten martini with olives" or whatever.

One of favorite martinis is served at Musso & Frank in Hollywood. Mario, a bartender there for 32 years and counting, tells me he hates having to ask but it's their policy. He finds it amusing how many youngsters answer "Vodka, of course!" They're often stunned when he tells them the drink is traditionally gin-based.

My next favorite place to drink is The Black Hoof Cocktail Bar in Toronto. Their Corpse Reviver #2 is sublime.
posted by dobbs at 1:22 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


*OOPS: with an onion, it's a Gibson.

Well, unless you further replace the Vermouth with the Blood of Christ and garnish with both an onion and a beard. In that case it's a Mel Gibson. It's an acquired taste.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:35 PM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


> In any case, I was known for my Rob Roy...

... DESECRATOR!

Scotch (any worthy of the name) deserves to remain unpolluted.
posted by twidget at 2:04 PM on August 13, 2012


Scotch (any worthy of the name) deserves to remain unpolluted.

Relax. A Rob Roy is made with blended scotch.

That said, I'll cop to the fact that I have had one or two cocktails that actually did use single malt and they were amazing. As a scotch drinker, I find it tough to bring myself to order a glass containing anything other than just the whisky (and maybe a splash of water to open it up, if necessary), but a good bartender can do interesting things if she is willing to commit blasphemy.

I had a drink called a smokey martini, which is essentially a vodka martini with a splash of smokey scotch in place of the vermouth (and which, as this entire thread points out, isn't actually a martini). This can be done with blended scotch, but it is absolutely amazing with a splash of Laphroaig Quarter Cask. I made one at home, once, and while it felt like a crime to splash the Laphroaig into a cocktail shaker, the drink was absolutely outstanding.
posted by asnider at 2:16 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


That said, I'll cop to the fact that I have had one or two cocktails that actually did use single malt and they were amazing.

Yeah. I used to drink Rusty Nails somewhat frequently, and always used Dewar's white label or the like. Then one time I decided to go ahead and dare it with Glenlivet - which, though a single malt, is a fairly 'low end" entry-level single malt. And the drink was lovely and tons better than with the Dewar's. I've since decided that's partly cuz of the Dewar's - I've switched to Famous Grouse for my blended Scotch drinks. But I still wouldn't totally scoff at the use of some single malts in a mixed drink. (Similarly, it's a blend, but I would never use Johnnie Walker's King George V in a mixed drink either!)

Another good Scotch cocktail: Blood and Sand. (Just be careful with the Cherry Heering, it can totally drown out the Scotch flavor.)
posted by dnash at 2:48 PM on August 13, 2012


I had a drink called a smokey martini,

I have also had this, and it was divine. Did you have yours at a coffee shop in Amherst, MA, that became an excellent cocktail/wine bar at 3 pm every day? If I still lived in Western MA I'd be there all. the. time.
posted by rtha at 2:52 PM on August 13, 2012


I preferred an inch of Pinch in my recipe along with a quality sweet vermouth. The telling ingredient, however, is orange bitters (accept no substitutes), finished with a twist of orange peel. Stir, strain and serve in a chilled cocktail stem. I actually developed quite a little following...
posted by jim in austin at 2:54 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"isn't a Manhattan as I would understand it"

Nope, it's not. Rye does not mix well at all with a significant measure of dry vermouth, as the commenter stated. However, a hint of dry vermouth (not quite two dashes) with bitters is a different story altogether, provided the rye itself is not terribly sweet.

I have yet to find a bar that stocks Wild Turkey Rye; usually it's (a very dusty) Jim Beam (if they have rye at all) which is terribly sweet in comparison, although nowhere near the sugar content of bourbon. You cannot make a Manhattan with bourbon, period.
posted by Ardiril at 2:55 PM on August 13, 2012


My friend invented an end of the night drink referred to as The Brooklyn Cockroach. For your edification here is what I foggily remember it as:

2-3 parts cheap rye whiskey, because everything else is gone.
(Bourbon!? Do I look French?)
dash sweet vermouth
dash Tabasco (or whatever hot sauce was languishing all faded and crusty in the back of the fridge)
dash bitters, hell a couple of dashes, it's supposed to be good fot you for christsakes...

Garnish? I think I got an old orange in here somewhere, you can suck on that if you like.

Serve over ice. No. More ice than that, stuff's cheap. Don't shake it, it's not an informant. Rattle your cubes some if you're the sort to hold your pinky out while you drink. Drink it, gaddammit.

Now go put on that Tom Waits record and let's all sing along.

I don't drink liquor much anymore, this may be related.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 3:10 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Bourbon!? Do I look French?)

I...what...are you drunk RIGHT NOW?
posted by asnider at 3:16 PM on August 13, 2012


No. It's a mild exaggeration of my foggy memories of drunken late night conversations with a specific friend intended for humorous effect.

(NB: I have worked for a very famous distiller and a totally unknown microbrewery. I'm also a total drink nerd. I know where bourbon comes from. I also enjoy stomping my jokes into their own, shallow, unmarked and very unfunny graves if I obviously fail.)
posted by 1f2frfbf at 3:52 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I figured that it was an attempt at recreating the drunkenness of the event, but I wasn't sure. I should have known better than to doubt you, though, given the nature of the thread and the types of comments that it's been getting.
posted by asnider at 4:05 PM on August 13, 2012


The vermouth, however little of it is present, is key to the martini. It enables you to say to the waiter "I'll have a martini" instead of "bring me a big glass of liquor". *Way* more classy.
posted by uosuaq at 4:36 PM on August 13, 2012


The vermouth, however little of it is present, is key to the martini. It enables you to say to the waiter "I'll have a martini" instead of "bring me a big glass of liquor". *Way* more classy.

It doesn't always work, though. I ordered a martini in Vancouver last month (specifying gin, upon being asked) and I'm 90% sure that they just gave me a glass of gin. I can't say for sure, though, since restaurants tend to go way too easy on the vermouth. The sad thing is that this was a very high end place. They should know how to make a proper martini.

Also, since we're sharing cocktail horror stories, I just remembered another. I was at the big local theatre, the one with the biggest budgets and froo-frooest patrons -- patrons who skew older and richer than average, and so would be more likely to order traditional cocktails -- and stopped at the bar for a drink since we arrived early for our show. I ordered an Old Fashioned and the bartender replied with, "An old fashioned what?"

I ordered a beer instead.
posted by asnider at 5:21 PM on August 13, 2012


I've absolutely given up on getting a proper cocktail at a bar. I either get a bartender who doesn't know how to make a cocktail, but does know how to make vodka taste sweet, and that is all his clients ask of him, or a get a fellow in a bow tie and curled mustache who insists he knows better than I do how to make a proper manhattan, although he does it his own way, which involves Burmese oils, a tobacco plants, and three ostrich feathers. There are a few bars that do it right, and I stick to them, but for the most part if I want a classic cocktail made in a classic way, I stay home and make it myself, and when I go our I get a shot of Jameson.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:39 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Forgive me for not taking any advice from a page that tells me to *shake* a Martini. You stir a Martini, you do not shake it.

...or using Martini & Rossi vermouth...or mixing in anything approaching a 15:1 ratio. Really??

I'll pass.

4 parts Anchor Distilling's Junipero gin.
1 part Dolin dry verouth
dash of orange bitters

STIR until well chilled, strain into a chilled glass, garnish with lemon rind or olive. One olive or three. Never two.
posted by kaseijin at 5:59 PM on August 13, 2012


asnider: That's funny about the Old Fashioned. An Old Fashioned is my barometer drink when trying any new bar, since pretty much everybody makes one. If they give me a proper Old Fashioned, then I know things will be good. If they give me some crap with selzer water and fruit salad, then I know to stick to beer or "mixed drinks".

To that end, an Old Fashioned recipe:

1 demerara sugar cube
splash of water
4-5 dashes Angostura (or other aromatic) bitters
2 oz bonded rye whiskey (I use Rittenhouse)
orange rind (no pith)

muddle sugar cube in chilled rocks glass with bitters and water until dissolved. Add a giant-ass ice cube and 2 oz rye and stir well until cold. Run the orange rind, skin side down, around the rim of the glass, give it a twist over the drink and drop it in. One more quick stir, and drink it down.
posted by kaseijin at 6:07 PM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


OK, it happened to me later that day on the 13th. This thread got me thirsty, and stepping out of a sudden downpour, I found myself in a cocktail bar.

Ordered a martini - "gin, please" - and was next asked, "Do you want any vermouth in that?"

Who the fuck are these posers that drink straight gin, and call that a martini? It's fucking gin! Call it that!

(Oops, late for my anger-management therapy session...)
posted by IAmBroom at 10:29 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bunny: That's why I love my own local - not only are they one block away, and not only do they consistently have awesome music, but one afternoon when I'd had a nasty shock and went in search of an emergency cocktail (I just told the bartender what had just happened to me and told her to make me whatever she felt appropriate), the bartender made me a perfect Manhattan, and also insisted that it and the second drink I'd gotten were on the house.

(cuddles Putnam's to her bosom fondly)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:08 AM on August 16, 2012


« Older A Guide to Houses No Gentleman Would Frequent...  |  If everyone had kept quiet, it... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments