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martini anyone?

I'm waiting for 5pm to get here...does anyone have any good martini recipes to get me through these last hours before I go mix myself one?

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  1. Take chilled good gin and pour into a glass that has had a drop of vermouth swished around it...add an olive and you're set...

    Yes - I am a traditionalist...

    1 Reply
    1. re: jbyoga

      A traditionalist would use a heck of a lot more than "a drop of vermouth"

    2. I, too, am a traditionalist. My preference is to add 3 oz. of good gin (such as Beefeater's) to shaker, pass the cap of a bottle of dry vermouth over (or, as Winston Churchill would do, bow in the direction of France), strain, and garnish with an olive. (Some prefer their martini stirred, rather than shaken, as shaking purportedly "bruises" the gin, but I don't buy into this theory.)

      In the original Bond novel Casino Royale (as well as the recent movie), 007's drink of choice is the "Vesper" -- 3 parts gin, 1 part vodka, 1/2 Kina Lillet (a very bitter French aperitif).

      15 Replies
      1. re: RMA

        ahhh...i had a recipe with champagne and lillet and was curious as to what it might be. thanks for the info.

        1. re: RMA

          good gin.. beefeaters?? *chokes*. I've never been able to find anything better than london saffire or tanqueray. those are my top two choices, and I don't really drink anything else much, as far as gin goes. the stirring thing, tho. that's a matter of presentation. when you serve a clear cocktail, you should always stir it, so that it doesn't become foamy and clouded. It should be like serving a gem in a glass, poetically speaking. oh, and a dash of bitters helps a bit.

          1. re: ashwood

            Don't you mean Bombay Sapphire?

            Beefeaters is a very good gin. You could call Beefeaters, Gordons, Bombay (not Sapphire), Tanqueray, and Boodles the classic English Dry Gins.

            1. re: ashwood

              Actually, shaking gin briefly or gently won't cloud it. It is vigorous and long shaking that will temporarily cloud it. The cloudiness goes away as soon as the tiny ice crystals and micro ice chips generated during the shaking melt.

              1. re: ashwood

                I stir. Shaking makes a colder drink and the colder the gin, the less aromatic it is. Shaking is better served with a Vodka "martini."

                1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                  For my everyday martinis, as I mentioned, I have both gin and glasses pre-frozen. I prefer my workaday Gilbey's or Seagram's to be ice-cold, and if they aren't then I like the drink shaken vigorously, because I like those little ice crystals. However, if I'm having a Hendrick's martini (or Fitty-Fitty) I will shake very gently, as those aromatics are precious and worth preserving.

                  1. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                    I'm not sure shaking will make a colder drink than stirring, if you stir long enough, and assuming you're using bar ice (stored in a bin rather than a freezer, and thus at 0 degrees C). What will vary is the amount of dilution from icemelt, which is partly a function of the amount and size of ice used.

                    Most pros will tell you not to store your spirits in the freezer, as the water from icemelt is an absolutely essential ingredient in most cocktails.

                    Some fascinating (and in some cases, to my mind, nearly impenetrable) science on the impact of various variables in cocktail making on a drink's ultimate temperature and dilution based on type/size of ice, shaker material, and agitation method -- super cocktail nerd stuff -- here:




                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      A question: are you saying that "warmer" ice is better and colder ice? Perhaps melting quicker and diluting sooner?

                      Just because my freezer is set for 0 degrees F. So is my ice is "colder" than bar ice?

                      Just looking for some clarification.

                      Re shaking vs. stirring and ice shards and dilution, there are interesting arguments against the accepted trends here in the U.S. coming out of Japan and London.

                      See the New York Times for the "hard shake" and anti-dilution argument:


                      And Washington, DC mixologist and blogger for the Atlantic Derek Brown on the need for ice shards in some drinks:


                      1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                        Interesting: the Times article cites exactly the research of my two links above.

                        I'm not saying one or the other is "better", but it is true that if your freezer is set at a temperature below zero-C, your ice will be colder when it comes out, and thus will chill your drink without dilution until it warms up to zero-C, after which it will further chill the drink via melting, with resultant dilution. Most bar ice is stored in insulated but unrefrigerated bins, and thus is "wet ice", already at zero-C, so it chills only through melting action, with the accompanying effect of dilution.

                        The "zero-dilution" approach is an interesting idea. My own belief is that some level of dilution in cocktails greatly improves their flavor; I used to keep certain spirits in the freezer, but don't anymore. The simplest proof to myself is the difference between fine whiskeys drunk neat vs. the addition of a couple of ice cubes: I think most are much more enjoyable with slight dilution and modest chilling below room temperature.

                        But it's all a matter of preference: I could understand an argument that says "Any dilution reduces the purity and impact of spirits in a cocktail", even if the results weren't to my taste. Of course, too much water is a bad thing in most plain spirits and cocktails: even if you don't mind the paler flavor, the paler appearance is rarely appealing. The overwatered Negroni is a sad-looking thing, indeed.

                        I do like the textural difference as well as the extended chilling that ice shards make in some cocktails (like a Gimlet). Despite having a big collection of vintage cocktail shakers, I'm mostly using my Boston shaker with a Hawthorn strainer at home these days, which is better at allowing ice shards into the drink. I use the julep strainer when I don't want that effect.


                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                        I don't know. While equal amounts of ice in equal amounts of water will eventually produce equal temperatures, agitation does speed the equilibrium (which is why stirring ice cubes in your tea makes them melt faster). Stirring is a less energetic agitation than shaking, thus if you stir one drink for ten seconds and you shake another for ten seconds, then strain both, the stirred drink will be warmer than the shaken one.

                        Your point about icemelt and dilution is well-taken, though.

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          Agreed, which I alluded to above when I said, "If you stir long enough." If I'm making cocktails for 12, I will often do the unthinkable, i.e., shake drinks that should be stirred, simply to save time. Most of my friends don't geek out about cocktails the way I do, anyway: no one's going to cry out in horror if their Manhattan is a little cloudy because it includes bitters and I shook instead of stirring.


                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            If you're making cocktails for 12, I hope you're not making 12 different cocktails! You could simply make one big batch in a pitcher--and stir the whole thing. Assuming, of course, that everyone is drinking Manhattans. Shaking cocktails for 12 is no easy task either. Even in my biggest shaker I can only realistically do two drinks at once, and making six rounds is still quite a bit of work. Perhaps I need to invest in a paint shaker or something?

                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                              I actually have a party shaker, a 3-part stainless steel thing that holds about a half-gallon, which I use for bulk cocktails. I usually bring it out of the kitchen to shake it; it's kind of a comical sight.

                              With the Boston shaker, it's usually not 12 different cocktails, but 3 or 4 different types isn't unusual. I'm not averse to making pitchers of cocktails for bigger parties: I don't want to spend my whole afternoon or evening working as a barman at my own party. If it's a big shindig, I hire someone.


                  2. re: RMA

                    I am bartender and DON"T SHAKE!!!

                    Sorry, the ice crystals will die down, yes. But there' s something way better about the silky mouthfeel of a stirred martini.

                    But I'm different from most in that I like a little vermouth in my gin martinis...then sometimes I like to upgrade a bit with a dash of bitters.

                    1. re: RMA

                      lillet is not very bitter at all, it';s rather sweet actually ( and yes i know the kina was more bitter than the blanc, and is no longer available. but even so lillet blanc w/ some bitters added is a legit substituion)

                    2. Oh god, I was just thinking the same thing...

                      My standard martini isn't as strong on account of more vermouth and also shaking w/ice:
                      -1.5oz of gin (Tanqueray, usually)
                      -0.5 oz vermouth (Noilly Prat or Martini)
                      *shake with 4 ice cubes (made with filtered water), strain
                      *garnish with 3 small green stuffed olives

                      Mmmm... martini...

                      1. I prefer an in-and-out vodka martini myself, with a little bit of olive brine. Don't waste the terribly high-end vodkas on this, though.

                        (In-and-out, by the way, means that vermouth is poured over ice in a strainer, stirred, and poured out again, at which point the vodka is added.)

                        1. The late great Lucius Beebe* laid down the rule as far as I'm concerned: "Anything drier than five to one is just iced gin!"

                          Amazing to me to see anyone claim to be a "traditionalist" while spouting the wave-the-vermouth-cork-overhead line. TRADITIONAL equals ORIGINAL in my books, which would be 1:1 plus a dash of bitters; I'll settle for what was current among my parents, which was 4:1 gin and dry vermouth, olive(s) or twist. Shaken if necessary, but I keep both gin and glasses in the freezer, so a brief stir does me fine.

                          Interesting to read that the trend may be reversing: one bar that was written up in the current Saveur offers that original recipe, calling it a Fitty Fitty.

                          * Bon vivant, railroad aficionado, and certainly the only working journalist ever to have his own private rail car!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Will Owen

                            that's a big roj. insisting on almost no vermouth is one of those bits of contagious ignorant snobbery that swish around in bars. i say, if you just want a glass of gin, ask for a glass of gin. that's how the queen plays it.

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              I share your ratio of 4:1, but I don't keep my gin in the freezer, as the slightly melted ice does open up the botanicals for me a little bit... But then again, I also drink my scotch with a splash of water, so whatever.

                              The only thing that bugs me is that I really am not fond of London Dry Gin, not if I have the option for other styles. But a lot of nice places don't have anything but London Dry. I think this is crazy, like if a bar only had Scotch and no other types of whisky/whiskey.

                              Highland Kitchen, right down the street from me, has CapRock which is so good I sometimes have it neat, and if you can find Magellan or Citadelle they are incredible. Try a little Lillet Blanc instead of vermouth and a twist. The last sip of a CapRock martini that's had a twist marinating in it for a while is delicious!

                            2. It just depends on how far back your tradition goes. The earliest recipes were 1:1 gin to vermouth, with a dash of orange bitters considered essential. Tastes have gotten progressively drier over time, the use of bitters faded. Some old-school bartenders will recognize a request for a "Nick and Nora Charles", using the 3:1 ratio that was popular from the 30s through about the 50s. I think the first one I sampled in the early 80s was somwhere between 6:1 and 15:1.

                              My own belief is that a rinse or an atomizer spritz of vermouth barely qualifies the drink as a cocktail at all, but I will adamantly defend your right to drink ice-chilled and strained gin if that's what you like, or even vodka. Chacon blah blah blah. Mine at home are between 3:1 and 5:2 according to my mood, up, with a drop of orange flower water and a twist.

                              I prefer Plymouth Gin and Vya Dry Vermouth, though I also serve Hendrick's, Bombay (not Sapphire, of which I am not a fan), and Tanqueray, as well as Boissiere, Noilly Prat, and Cinzano (bianco and extra dry) vermouth. I've also noodled with fino sherry, Lillet, and even Becherovka in place of vermouth.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                MC SLim JB, thank you. Orange Flower Water is a genius idea and one I will have to try.

                                I generally support people in drinking whatever they like, but personally consider it a sign of personal weakness of character when I hear people request an especially vermouth-light martini. The whole "just a drop, extra dry, wave the bottle" thing I just don't get. Nobody is going to make you drink vermouth, but if you want a Martini, it should be there. It's part of the drink for a reason, it does something important.

                                I think Chow has a video up in their "The Perfect" section of David Wondrich drinking a 50/50 (i.e. 1:1) at the Pegu Club as his "perfect" martini. I've made the same ratio at home and like it fine, but tend to stick more in a range between 3:1 and 2:1. I think if people would buy decent Vermouth Noilly is fine, you don't have to spend Vya money) and keep it in the fridge so it stays fresh, we'd hear a lot less complaining.

                                Anyhow, just wanted to put in my two cents very strongly on the side of gin, stirred, and with enough vermouth. Twisted lemon rind is the ideal garnish, olives are ok but please no brine.

                              2. Ahh martini. 3:1 gin. Go ahead and gasp: In winter I often skip the ice hassle and stir it up room temp. I vary the garnish - garlic stuffed olives, plain olives, lemon marinated olives (new favorite), pepperdews, and you gotta try a sun dried tomato. I am much more particular about the vermouth than the gin. Gilbeys or better will do, Beefeater is my favorite, but with nothing less than Noilly Prat or Martini and Rossi.
                                I'll have to try that Kina Lillet - sounds interesting.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: atheorist

                                  Unfortunately, Kina Lillet is no longer available. At some point, I think in the mid-80s, Lillet's producers decided that the high quinine content of that formulation was limiting its appeal, and so redid it with a much lower quinine content, and the "Kina" (quinine) designation went away.You can approximate the flavor in cocktail that uses modern Lillet by adding tonic water, or a dash of dry bitters like Angostura, or in gin cocktails, going with a more assertive London Dry style versus a less juniper-forward version (e.g., Plymouth, Hendrick's).

                                2. Personally, I have lost my taste for martinis. I like my gin on the rocks. No fruit.

                                  1. Take some Tanqueray #10, throw it in a shaker(no vermouth), shake it like it owes you money and strain it into a martini glass and garnish it with the stuffed olive of your choice. You now have yourself a Perfect 10 Martini.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Mr Lee Ho

                                      No, you have a glass of cold gin in a fancy glass.

                                    2. My post on another thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/301399

                                      Tried martini stirred with Plymouth gin and Vya vermouth at 5:1 ratio with Myers lemon peel and Picholine olives. Excellent!!

                                      My understanding is that Ian Fleming always had his martini stirred. Must be a joke that he played on his readers.

                                      1. I keep mine simple...just a drop of vermouth and Siku vodka...garnished with a twist of lemon or lime. :)

                                        1. Why wait till 5?! ;) It's 5.00 somewhere!

                                          My favorite it a dirty vodka martini...I don't even bother with vermouth, just vodka and olive juice and a couple olives in the rocks and I am a happy girl!

                                          1. I'm along with the rest of the crowd: good gin martinis are at ratios of 3:1 or 4:1.

                                            Instead of recipes, try some new gins!! Bluecoat Gin won the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits competition and is considered a "modern" or floral gin that is a nice change of pace from traditional dries. Or, if you're not near Philly, then Hendrick's is a non-traditional but good gin as well. In the Midwest, craft distillers in Chicago (North Shore No. 6) and Milwaukee (Great Lakes Distillery) are making some very interesting "modern" gins.

                                            I, personally, LOVE the spruce gin coming out of Oregon (Rogue Spruce).

                                            New recipes? Nah... stick with Noilly Prat vermouth. But new and interesting gins... sign me up. That's an exciting adventure.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: proof66

                                              I have been drinking martinis made 4:1 with Plymouth gin, dry vermouth and a dash of bitters. If I order a martini in a bar or restaurant, how do I let them know that I don't just want a glass of cold gin? What's the opposite of extra dry?

                                              1. re: pcdarnell

                                                My experience (more with manhattans, but the same idea) is that your best bet is to just say what you want. My experience has also been that unless you're at a bar where the bartenders already know better anyways, that this is unlikely to get you what you want.

                                                1. re: pcdarnell

                                                  Your best bet is to order exactly that, resign yourself to sounding like a snob and be prepared to be disappointed. You may want to go to bars that are known for having actual bartenders instead of beer jockeys.

                                                  If you order "extra sweet" (which is the opposite of "extra dry") you will end up with God alone knows what. You can try the "and a little bit of vermouth".

                                                  I have been converted to the gin martini and once you find a place that really can make it (like the Edison in downtown Los Angeles), stay loyal and tip well.

                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                    When I ordered a 5:1 at the Redwood in LA, which is a very old place that's been updated (very nicely) by hipsters, I heard some murmuring of "Five to one??" from the bar and then about six heads appeared in the doorway, staring at me. I just waved. It was delicious...

                                                    Quite a few spots in LA can do very good ones, a good sign that the Faketini has not completely subverted the scene.

                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                      Could not agree more. Find a place that makes them the way you like and tip well. Gibson (cocktail onions) is the way to go...

                                                    2. re: pcdarnell

                                                      Ugh... ordering in a bar is always sort of an adventure. I can't believe some of the things I've seen go on back there if I hand't watched it withy my own two (disappointingly sober) eyes.

                                                      I agree with many of the others--be explicit in what you order. Order by ingredient and ratio. Not like a jerk or a snob... just politely. "Hendrick's gin martini wth a doubl-splash of vermouth please." If you say things like "splash" or "double splash" or "a great lot of" instead of specific rations you'll be better off. The alternative is, "Listen you teenage cretin... tell that tatooed ape of a bartender back there a proper martini is STIRRED and has a ratio of 3.5 parts of in to 0.75 parts of vermouth... NO MORE NO LESS!" The bartenders are eyeballing it anyway so let them measure in "splashes" or some other informal term. That'll keep you on good terms with the bartender and staff. And that's a MUST.

                                                      1. re: pcdarnell

                                                        Honestly, I rarely order martinis in a bar, if it's a place that can do a good cocktail I want something more interesting and if it's not I want something harder to screw up - I make great martinis at home without any great effort so why bother when I'm out?

                                                        On the occasions I do ask for them, I have been know to say "be generous with the vermouth" or "I don't mind the vermouth" and, if that's met with a quizzical look, to give a ratio as an approximate guideline.

                                                        "Martini" means so many things in bars these days, I don't see any problem with being specific. I'll definitely specify a gin of choice and a preferred garnish, so why not ask for a ratio I like?

                                                    3. Absolute Lillet: 2 parts vodka 1 part lillet, shaken. Heavenly!

                                                      1. When at dubious bars, if I really want a martini (I'll generally order something else at those types of places, but sometimes I really just want a martini), I usually emphasize "a HEALTHY splash of vermouth please." And even after saying that, I'll watch the bartender put maybe two drops in. :-\ It's actually funny how afraid (apparently) some "beertenders" are to include a good amount of vermouth.

                                                        Although now my concern is this: these places almost always have a big-ass bottle of vermouth. But they're not pouring very much of it. So, how long has that vermouth been sitting there??? :-( When I think of that, I think maybe it is a good thing they're just putting in a couple drops.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Alcachofa

                                                          I never think of ordering a martini when I am out! Would it be considered rude to ask for a 4:1 ratio?
                                                          When I make them at home I use Hendricks or Tanqueray and Noilly Prat vermouth 4 to 1 -and three small cocktail olives. They go down very nicely.

                                                        2. was at little branch in NYC again last night - i so love their cocktails. they do one called a gershwin , an award winner invented by one of their bartenders (who is also sexy as hell) which is a plymoth gin, ginger, a spray or rose water and i dont know what else - so good.

                                                          last night i had some gin/campari, something something called a jasmine, and a last word: gin masraschino lime and cointreau

                                                          im still happy just thinking about them

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: thew

                                                            Off-topic, but the Last Word contains Chartreuse, not Cointreau. If you like that drink, I encourage you to try the Final Ward, a twist from one of the bartenders at Death & Co. Equal parts rye, maraschino, lemon, and Chartreuse. Awesome drink, better than the original in my humble opinion.

                                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                              yes. mental typo brain fart on cointreau - i've found i tend to store names of things by the 1st letter (i'll often remember your name stats with a "j" for example, but won't be sure if you're jessica, jennifer, or julie.....)

                                                              i'll try it, but my taste run more towards gin than rye in general

                                                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                I want to make that!

                                                                Equal parts, really? Seems like a lot of maraschino. I guess the other stuff must offset it. Guess I'll have to give it a try when I replenish my Chartreuse supply, only have pastis in house right now and something tells me it won't be the same here.