This blog is a reaction to a fellow #oneaday’er who had a simply splendid evening in which she enjoyed some Martini cocktails. Which is a beautiful thing and I am in no way intending to offend or diminish the good night that was had. However, as a cocktail lover/snob/amateur mixologist the method of preparation and ingredients were wrong and for this I blame that massive ponce James Bond.
Now to start with, far be it for me to say that you cannot have your drinks the way you like them, this is simply to try and correct some of the misconceptions about cocktails, specifically the Martini which Hollywood, specifically Mr Bond, have slipped into pop culture.
1. The Vodka Martini
NO! You do not make a proper Martini with vodka, what on earth are you thinking? The first part of Bond’s catch phrase is “Vodka Martini” (I’ll come to the latter part shortly), but this is madness. A proper Martini should be made with Gin. Popularised by that tuxedo’d gent who may be able to get a girl to undress just by looking at her but has no idea what a good Martini is. Sure you can order a “Vodka Martini” if you really want to -like you can order tartare sauce to have on your fillet steak if you really want -but we all know why you’re ordering one.
2. Shaken not stirred
NO! You do not shake a Martini! Are you mad? Now some clever sod will probably link to a Vodka Martini recipe and say “but ah hah, they say you should shake it” and I say “ah hah, see point 1, you shouldn’t even be making one”. This is far more intrinsic to the cocktail making process in general. Let’s look at the cocktail shaker. Now, why is it made of metal? Because it’s a good conductor of heat.
It’s a common misconception that you shake the cocktail mix to look cool, to mix the ingredients, which is wrong. You shake the cocktail mix to chill the mix, that’s all. You take the largest ice cubes you have (these will melt the slowest) in the shaker with ingredients. Next you shake it until the metal part of the shaker feels cold, this means the mix is cold and you have done enough. Any more shaking and you’ll be just watering down your cocktail mix and end up making a punch instead.
Now a Martini especially is about a pure drink, you want to water it down as little as possible, which is why instead of shaking, it, you stir it, gently. All you want to do is chill the liquid, not have the ice moving around, and starting to melt. There’s no fancy ingredients that will need the aid of shaking to mix together properly. If may not look as flash as shaking it, but that’s not what a Martini is about.
3. The Glass
The most well known cocktail with something on the rim is a Margherita, which has salt on the rim. Now there some cocktails which contain “martini” in the name and say you should use sugar or what not on the rim (some novelty cocktails use space dust, with mixed results) but these are not Martini’s. Years ago people would (incorrectly) call a “cocktail glass” “cocktail glass” a “martini glass” due to no one correcting them or wilfully trying to market their cocktails by association to the Martini. You should do no such thing with a Martini. But as we’re on the subject, if you are putting salt/sugar/etc on the rim of your glass it is vital that you make sure it is only on the outside of the glass. If there is any on the inside there is a good chance it will contaminate the flavour of the liquid in the glass and ruin not only the taste, but the point of putting it on the rim in the first place.
4. The Garnish
A Martini is all about a pure cocktail, the garnish should be added last, no earlier. The most common garnishes for a Martini are an olive or a “twist” of lemon. Olive is easy, drop it in, usually on a cocktail stick. For the lemon, you cut your thing slice of the rind and twist it, to let some of the oils in the skin out onto the surface of the Martini, then lay it on top for decoration. People with an..acquired taste may go for a “Dirty Martini” where you add don’t olive brine to give a cloudy appearance, amongst other things, or a “Gibson” by replacing the olive with an onion. If you want to test your barman/mixologist, ask them for a “Dickens”, which is a Martini with no olive or twist (badumtssh).
That’s pretty much all I have to say on cocktails for now. If you disagree with some of the things I’ve said, you’re probably wrong. If you like your Cocktails/Martini’s in ways which I’ve said in this blog are wrong, I will defend your right to do so, as long as you understand why they’re wrong.
But whatever you do with your Martini is unlikely to be as bad or in any way offend me more than the time I was in a bar in London, Strawberry Moons. I ordered a White Russian and they not only made it with.. Baileys, topped it off with..milk…but worst of all…they didn’t even put any Vodka in it