Time for a Drink
February 2, 2024 12:55 PM   Subscribe

When it comes to martinis, I've never understood the jokes about omitting vermouth. "merely glancing in the direction of Italy", "waving it in the general direction of the bottle", or, from the article, "you should just open it and look at it."

Why is plain cold gin worthy of having a special name? That's not a cocktail, it's a shot. I guess that's the joke. Well, if that's it, It's not funny.
posted by kpmcguire at 1:26 PM on February 2 [7 favorites]

My father was a bartender and added vermouth to his martinis with a travel-size spray bottle, just laying a nice gauzy web over the surface of the glass like the absinthe in a sazerac. I myself prefer to just use the bottle cap.

But this quote in the piece perfectly captured my preferred martini flavor: "cold seawater at the bottom of an oyster." I live inland, good oysters are not easy to come by.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:39 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]

I enjoy martinis, enough that I don't have them often anymore. And I like them gin [Bombay Sapphire pref, but Hendricks is quite interesting, and Bellringer will get the job done quickest of all], 3:1 with vermouth, shaken, and dirty.

I don't think vodka makes a martini. And I don't think just cold gin makes a martini.

But I do encourage the imbibing of whatever three shots of alcohol combined with some bit of flavoring chilled with ice and served in a stem glass drink you enjoy.

To that end, I also enjoy a manhattan, enough that I don't have them often anymore.
posted by hippybear at 1:43 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]

If I want two, I’ll ask for them.
posted by zamboni at 2:03 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Hendricks up wet dirty drinker here. I love the comment about them being like raw oyster juice. I really enjoyed trying different vermouths when I lived on the east coast (Vya is my favorite), but I can't conveniently find anything but the good old Martini &Rossi here in the sunny southwest.
posted by Illusory contour at 2:49 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

I don't think I've ever had a martini, though I did used to live a short drive away from their birthplace.
posted by May Kasahara at 2:51 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

The book this is from is great; I’m slowly meandering through it during cocktail hours. It has an annoying property: every few pages you must pause and take down the information for yet another new book you want to read.

And it does go best with a martini, and some olives or potato chips. I have a great respect for the stiff cold glass of mostly-gin, but in my house the drink is the Alberto martini:

Put a coupe glass in the freezer for at least half an hour. In a mixing glass combine
1 oz gin
1 oz Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano
1 oz fino or manzanilla sherry
Stir with ice and strain into the chilled coupe.
posted by Hypatia at 2:58 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]

I do not drink a whole lot of gin, or many martinis. But I am of the opinion that if you're going to drink martinis they should have a decent amount of dry vermouth (quaint MiMo macho guy affectations about waving the vermouth bottle over the shaker aside) and that the vermouth should be good vermouth, i.e. none of the stuff that you could buy at the liquor stores where I grew up. Dolin (the green bottle) is a good choice. Also, Castelvetrano olives for the garnish.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 3:18 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Pickled green beans for the garnish is my preference over olives.
posted by hippybear at 3:24 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

I don't drink very much, but if I had a bar easily accessible to me with a bartender that made a good Perfect Martini, I would absolutely have a drinking problem. I guess that's the writer in me.

A good martini only tastes like the future.
posted by Kattullus at 4:13 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]

Beefeater (24 is nice if you can find it) up dry (usually Dolin, M&R is too sweet for my taste) with a lemon twist. Unless the weather's hot I'll drink it only cooled from the fridge, but in the summer into the freezer the gin goes so the martinis are ice cold for maximum refreshment.

And now I will be visiting the liquor store this evening to enable that sudden craving. (what's the oral equivalent of an earworm? I refuse to say "mouthworm"!)

Also, Alton Brown hasn't made any new Quarantine Quitchen videos in a while, but the existing ones often include him waxing entertainingly pedantic about his preferred martini prep.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:30 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]

I drink a fair amount of gin, but don't make martinis very often. When I do, I prefer maybe a 6:1 gin:vermouth ratio (Beefeater and Dolin, please) and a lemon twist. I've tried various dirty martinis, and despite liking all of the ingredients on their own, I'm not that fond of how they combine. I think part of it is that I really like the taste of London dry gin, and for me, the brine detracts from that while a lemon twist just accents it. To each their own! Cheers!
posted by mollweide at 4:30 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

There’s no wrong way to have a martini.

…which is why I drink Boulevardiers.
posted by heyitsgogi at 5:36 PM on February 2 [5 favorites]

There’s no wrong way to have a martini.

Ask the bartender about their gin selection. If they tell you they have Bombay Sapphire, order a scotch and the bill.
posted by mhoye at 6:27 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

3 or 4 to 1 gin:vermouth for me, with an olive or three. It makes me happy. I don’t disapprove of vodka, but I don’t make martinis with it either.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:20 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

Indeed, I save my vodka for margaritas.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:00 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]

A martini made with a hint of scotch instead of vermouth is excellent. Try it. You'll love it.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:59 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

No love for the fartini variant?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:06 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

Ha. In one of those previous threads, I wrote:
We tried making freezer Martinis in a couple different ratios, and the ratio we want to drink froze solid if left overnight. Even the much stronger one I made to try to keep that from happening also froze solid, so I think our freezer might be too cold.
It turned out our freezer was indeed too cold, according to the US Department of Energy. They say to set your freezer to 0º F, and ours was set below that. This matters because an ethanol solution at 30% ABV (right in the Martini sweet spot per Wondrich) freezes at 5º F. We turned up our freezer and we diluted our freezer Martini just a little less (the math says it's 31.91% ABV), and now it (mostly) doesn't solidify in our freezer.
posted by fedward at 11:30 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]

I'm a big fan of 2-1 martinis. Every martini also really benefits from a spritz of absinthe/pastis. It really benefits most gins, you're not adding enough to louche, but it gives a beautiful background note.
posted by Carillon at 12:19 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]

the Fifty-Fifty makes for a nice change, once in awhile, and puts paid to all that "wave at Italy" guff.
posted by chavenet at 2:37 AM on February 3

Interesting article. It is clearly promoting the hairy-chested-adman version of the martini instead of the much older one I like: 2::1 gin::vermouth, but that’s what makes horse racing and gin brands.

I wanted to drop a quick plug for Liquid Intelligence, which taught me a lot about building a drink, though I have purchased neither a centrifuge nor a Dewar flask for my liquid nitrogen. Some of the information is … let us say “more approachable” than the rest. But the discussion of ice, temperature, and dilution is worth the price of admission all by itself.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 9:26 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]

Interesting he appeals to Kingsley Amis, and yet sanctions the vodka martini. Amis wrote that vodka martinis were "for those rather inferior persons who do not like the taste of gin."
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:05 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]

the hairy-chested-adman version of the martini

I'd like to clarify that I (and I assume at least some others) don't go for a drier martini for any "manly man" motive, it's because I prefer the flavor of a drink with a lower ratio of vermouth - 3:1 or even 4:1. I'll admit when I first discovered I liked gin (probably in my 30's), I started out with the "hover the vermouth bottle over the glass" messaging in my head. But I quickly found that a certain amount of vermouth is necessary for a truly sublime cocktail. That said, even with a decent vermouth like Dolin a higher ratio can easily get to be too sweet for my preference, spoiling the flavor of the drink. So no, I don't look down on anyone who prefers a higher ratio of vermouth, by all means enjoy the beverage of your choice*. My personal choice is just different, not somehow "superior".

*"There's not a man, woman or child on the face of the earth who doesn't enjoy a refreshing beverage." (David Letterman)
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:27 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]

I can't remember when I started making martinis the way I do- I thought I'd read a recipe online somewhere but I haven't the faintest idea where. But after years of making dirty vodka martinis for my partner (3:1 with a bit more olive brine than seems polite), I found a recipe for gin martinis that looked intriguing (not really a vodka martini fan) and I've made them this way since: 3:1:1, with the gin ridiculously cold and the vermouth split 50/50 between Dolin dry and blanc, 2 dashes of grapefruit bitters, garnished with a lemon twist.

Delicious. Martini purists can fight me. Preferably after a couple of these.
posted by 40 Watt at 12:56 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]

Ugh. Just realized the proportions should read 3:.5:.5. Otherwise the same.
posted by 40 Watt at 1:14 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

I am a simple soul, happy with just a nice slug of gin straight out of the bottle that lives in the freezer, stirred gently with an olive-studded skewer. Preferably accompanied by slivers of baguette dolloped with tapenade, on a summer afternoon, windows open, Coleman Hawkins on the speakers. [...stares wistfully at calendar...]
posted by Kat Allison at 1:15 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]

I've always associated gin with John Coltrane (or Michael Brecker) - angular, complex, not to everyone's taste. Hawkins needs rich and smoky flavors like rye or scotch. Chacun à son goût...
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:37 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

Nothing against Vermouth or olives or cocktail onions but holy cow is chilled gin delicious all by itself.
posted by whuppy at 10:43 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]

whuppy: "Nothing against Vermouth or olives or cocktail onions but holy cow is chilled gin delicious all by itself."

I mean, yeah, GOOD gin, absolutely. (And by good gin I mean "whatever gin I have on hand when I want some but can't be arsed to whip up a Martini")
posted by caution live frogs at 12:55 PM on February 6

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