Why Martinis Suck (And What to Do About It)

Categories: Last Call

Martini Wide.JPG
JK Grence
Why is it so hard to get a good Martini in this town? Hell, why is it so hard to find a good Martini anywhere? For such a simple drink, you'd think you could saunter into any bar short of a sleazy dive and get a Martini done right. The effort it takes to make a memorable Martini is barely more than it takes to make one I'd rather forget. Here's what at least 90 percent of bartenders do that they shouldn't:

5: They Shake The Hell Out Of It. It happens to the best bartenders. Sometimes they get in over their heads, and they fall prey to a shortcut. In their frenzy, the bartender gives your Martini a good hard shake instead of a long stir. That shake introduces tiny air bubbles to the drink, lightening its texture. A Martini should be silky smooth on the tongue from a good stirring.

4: The Dreaded Courtesy Stir. The other side of shaking it is not stirring it enough. Gin needs the chill and dilution of melting ice as the drink is stirred; 20-30 seconds of vigorous stirring does the trick.

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17 comments
Stillhungry
Stillhungry

No good martinis in this town? Um, ever been to AZ88 or Durants? They'll sort you out properly.

Hock
Hock

Just because you serve it in a cocktail glass...it's not a Martini...and sorry, a Martini is gin, not vodka.  With vodka it's actually a Gibson...without the pearl onion.  The Martini has been ruined by vodka drinkers!  wait...I like vodka too!

Alex Hollins
Alex Hollins

To clarify,the cocktail from the Bond books was 3 parts gin, 1 part vodka, 1 part vermouth, twist of lemon peel.  why they made the recipe in the movies I'll never know.

Go Lb Salt
Go Lb Salt

Gin & Vodka purists here, but we have modified the traditional martini as follows:

Option #1 - Substitute Vermouth for olive juice from a jar of Anchovy Stuffed Olives.  (only Armstrong Olives will do)  Use the anchovy stuffed olives in place of regular martini olives.

Option #2 - Substitute Vermouth for sake and use vodka instead of gin.  We like Russian Standard Vodka & Hakutsuru Sake.

Hock
Hock

I do enjoy Durants' martini.  I haven't enjoyed them at AZ88.

TheCosmicJester
TheCosmicJester

I didn't say there weren't *any* (I mean come on, you can come in to Shady's when I'm behind the stick and know you'll get a good one), just that they're very hard to find. I've been meaning to hit Durant's for a martini for quite some time now. AZ/88 is all style, no substance. The one time I went there the server seemed to completely not give a shit about anything going on. The one time I went to the sister place Hanny's the supposedly talented bartender handled my cocktail glass by the rim, a total rookie screw-up.

TheCosmicJester
TheCosmicJester

The defining characteristic of a Gibson is the pearl onion, so a Gibson without it is merely an un-garnished Martini.

But I do agree... as someone once told me, if your cat has kittens in the oven, you don't call 'em biscuits.

TheCosmicJester
TheCosmicJester

Ah, the Vesper, named after Bond girl Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, such a marvelous drink!

As Bond gave the recipe, it's:
Three measures of Gordon's,
One measure of vodka,
Half a measure of Kina Lillet,
Shaken until very cold,
Garnished with a large thin slice of lemon peel.

To come closer to the spirit of what Bond ordered, in the US use Tanqueray (it's closer to UK Gordon's than our Gordon's), a 100-proof grain vodka like Stoli (Bond told the barman it's better with grain vodka than potato vodka, but it's more or less splitting hairs), and Cocchi Americano if you can get your hands on it (or Lillet Blanc if you can't).

The Vesper was only drank once by Bond; one could assume after naming the drink for her, that he lost a taste for them once he found out she was a Russian double agent.

Hock
Hock

You are correct, but clearly it's not a Martini...it's a Vesper  (or perhaps Vespar)

TheCosmicJester
TheCosmicJester

So, have you *had* an actual gin Martini like I described? Dirty martinis are, in my humble yet entirely correct opinion, an abomination.

Hock
Hock

Those aren't Martinis.

Martin
Martin

 Um.  I don't think you know what the word "substitute" means.  Are you even human?

Hock
Hock

I should be more clear.  I haven't tried them at AZ88.

Hock
Hock

I have an issue calling a vodka martini, a martini.  Call it a vodka martini and I'm cold to it, but accepting.

You are correct...a Gibson sans onion is a vodka martini.  Thumbs up to you!

Hock
Hock

Awesome!

Hock
Hock

If your question was directed at me, yes...I am a real gin martini drinker.   And although I don't drink them dirty, because I actually enjoy martinis, I still consider a dirty martini a true martini.

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