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Nola Martini Fans??

Searching for the perfect martini in Nola. Well, not "the" perfect, "my" perfect.

Once you get the kind of vodka and dryness right - my most important requirement is that the drink is icy, icy cold.

Usually, bartenders don't seem to get this. I once had a perfect one where they had a mallet and pounded the ice somehow which created slivers of ice. You can get the same result using a stainless shaker - but you have to shake it forever.

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  1. I confess to being unfamiliar with a martini as described but the Windsor Court always did fine by me, the Pre-K Ritz was damn good, Clancy's has always been spot on, Royal Orleans has been famous for years.Many more things go into a good martini than just the ingredients.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hazelhurst

      yep. my favorite place in san diego for martinis was a punk DIY steak shop, The Turf Club. every large shaken martinis would have those perfect ice crystals floating on top... neat place.

      not sure where to find that here. i know Bombay Club has dozens of martini variations on the menu but i havent tried many of them yet.

    2. The temperature of a cocktail usually hits around -7 degrees celsius (which is actually COLDER than ice). Neat, huh? Anyway, its physically impossible for the temperature to drop much below this temperature, and shaking it longer than necessary is simply a matter of diluting the drink. The little slivers of ice on top signify nothing more than that the ice in the shaker broke up and some of it made it on top of your drink. Some people like it there, some don't (i personally find it distracting), but it doesn't mean your drink is colder. And it does mean that your drink is still diluting.

      14 Replies
      1. re: nola17

        It's the vodka part that throws me. An old friend likes Beefeater martinis shaken with the little ice bits but it seems to me to dilute it faster. The Boston Ritz--the real one--made them to his liking. In New Orleans I take them on the rocks. When we still had real ice in town the drink was sublime.

        1. re: hazelhurst

          Ah, martinis at the Boston Ritz. Used to live up there in the 80s, and indeed the martinis at the Ritz were fantastic.

          Down here in NOLA I like the Bombay Club for martinis. My current favorite martini is made w/Hendrick's gin, very dry, garnished with a thin slice of cucumber.

          Chris McMillian (in my opinion, New Orleans' greatest bartender) makes a great martini at the Bar Uncommon in the Pere Marquette Hotel.

          Is it 5 o'clock yet?

          1. re: hazelhurst

            Hazelhurst says wonderful things like "When we still had real ice in town" and "It's the vodka part that throws me." I'm determined to lunch with Hazelhurst some day, and Galatoire's would be my choice, even though they've stopped making real ice.

            Another vote for Bombay Club martinis, and for anything (including martinis) concocted by Chris McMillian. The maestro can do no wrong.

            1. re: hazelhurst

              >>> It's the vodka part that throws me. <<<

              You and me both!

              1. re: zin1953

                Vodka? Why not? Millions prefer vodka over gin despite it being the original martini purist offering.

                Can't vodka lovers get any love? :>)

                1. re: Ambiance

                  I'll just note for the record that James Bond, perhaps the most famous Martini lover, actually had both in his martini. In 1953's Casino Royale, Bond instructs the bartender to make him a "Vesper" martini, which has a mix of Gin and Vodka, and a splash of Lillet, in place of the usual vermouth. Bond's words from the book:

                  "Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?"

                  I almost always opt for the classic gin version, but there are certainly days where the juniper element, etc., of the gin does not appeal, and the crisper, cleaner flavor of a well-made vodka just hits exactly the right spot.

                  1. re: Ambiance

                    Methinks thou doth be missing my point . . . ;^)

                    I don't object to vodka being used. I object to people saying "Martini," and automatically presuming it's made with vodka. It is not. A "Martini" is made using gin. On the other hand, a "VODKA Martini" is indeed made using vodka . . . and it can be quite a lovely cocktail.

                    1. re: zin1953

                      Thanks. Duly noted !! Coming down in April..I will be on a mission to find (1) Best Vodka Martini and (2) Best mussels. Last time pitted Herbsaint vs. Bombay Club vs. Bacco's. All wer e good but Bombay won the day

                      1. re: Ambiance

                        I've had better than average mussels at both Adolfo's -- on special, I think -- and Maurepas Foods. One imagines the latter will make a fine vodka martini[*].

                        [*] The proper name of this drink is a kangaroo.

                        1. re: montuori

                          Thanks. Kangaroo. Will start using that. And thanks for the mussels tips....will definitely check out.

                        2. re: Ambiance

                          Bombay Club provided a most excellent Perfect Martini. In many bars this order is construed as a perfect Martini..."Of course we make a perfect Martini"

                          It is more difficult to make a Vodka Martini (in my mind) as it is harder to match the vermouth to vodka proportions as the lighter vodka flavor can be more easily over powered.
                          This can also apply to the standard Martini if you mix with several choices of gin and several choices of vermouth. The differing flavor profiles take different proportions. I'm not always successful but found that I can force myself to drink the failures.

                          1. re: collardman

                            thanks for input ! I have never heard of mixing different gins and vermouth together -- in one drink?? Duh, no, guess you mean drinking several.

                            Vermouth is quite an amazing liquid. How four drops vs. three drops can totally ruin a drink. With the very smooth, sipping vodkas out know, you barely need a drop.

                2. re: nola17

                  I read once that the point of the ice slivers created by hard shaking is that the slivers lightly scratch the tongue and interrior of the mouth, and the alcohol (let's leave gin vs vodka out of this for now) slightly triggers receptors in the scratches. The very slight scratches lead to increasing the pleasure from the drink.

                  I believe this article also conducted a taste test (perhaps the taste test was first, and the explanation of the results second), where martinis (again, not sure if gin or vodka, and irrelevant here) were prepared exactly the same in shakers, and some shaken and some stired. The amount of water dilution was somehow accounted for, so the drinks had the same amount of water from ice in them. They were then poured for lucky taste testers. Most tasters chose the shaken martini, saying the flavor was bolder and crisper. Or something like that.

                  I can't seem to find that article, but after reading it, I thought it made some amount of sense. After all, if an icicle falling from 5 stories can pierce a person, a shard could score a tongue, no? :)

                  1. re: foreverhungry

                    This is quite heretical around here ...but I personally LOVE the conclusions. It all makes sense now - scratched tongue = better taste !

                3. Ordering a vodka Martini is like ordering a "Rum & Coke" only with Bourbon.

                  2 Replies
                    1. I can't and probably wouldn't vouch for their "real" martini's, but Dino's on Tchoupitoulas (almost under the I-10 bridge) has a huge list of really great (and cheap) martinis. The bartenders are mostly girls and very friendly. I've never had a martini there I didn't like. Definitely more of a dive bar though.

                      1. Have you tried the martinis at La Petit Grocery? They used to be 50 cents in the summers during happy hour, which may have made them taste better, but I've always thought they are quite balanced and really cool you down after a hot NOLA day.

                        1. Lu Brow at the Swizzle Stick bar insists on shaking the martini a minimum of 50 times in order to produce the slivers of ice on top. Like wise for Chris, anything he does is GREAT.

                          1. I have had martinis all over the city. Restaurant August served the absolute best martini I have ever had. It was perfect - chilled glass, thin ice membrane atop the shadow of vermouth. Excellent. I usually get good ones at Bombay Club, but that place is a little rickety.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: The Collapser

                              I also enjoyed an absolutely perfect dry (Hendricks) martini at August last week.

                            2. I can't say I've drunk martinis at every high end place in town, in fact I'm more of a dive bar fan, but the Bombay Club is my favorite stop for a martini, bleu cheese stuffed olive, hehe...

                              1. Shaking "forever "melts the ice thereby diluting your cocktail. Keep your vodka and glasses in the freezer.

                                10 Replies
                                  1. re: hazelhurst

                                    No credibility for teaching how to make martinis, when real martinis contain gin, not vodka.

                                  2. re: JazzyB

                                    Jazzy, one of the most important lessons I ever learned from a bartender is that the "ice melt" is an integral part of the cocktail, so while I agree that "shaking 'forever'" is too much, to keep everything in the freezer is, in my experience, equally ruinous.

                                    Yes, I keep my vodka in the freezer for when I want a straight shot (Hangar One Mandarin or Hangar one Buddha's Hand); but I keep my gin in the liquor cabinet for making Martinis . . . same for any vodka I'm using to make Bloody Mary's or other cocktails.

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      Very interesting - about not putting vodka in the freezer. I think despite this being a bad idea to put in freezer...the coolest thing I think I ever seen at cocktail party was a bottle of vodka placed in a milk carton with water and then frozen and the carton pealed off. The vodka is presented encased in a block of ice. What does freezing do to it? Why do they have those tasting freezer rooms in Russian restaurants ?

                                      Thanks in advance for your educating a neophyte

                                      1. re: Ambiance

                                        Vodka drunk STRAIGHT is often frozen . . . although, to be honest about it, vodka distillers everywhere say it's a bad idea -- that poor quality vodka may indeed be improved by freezing (this is how the original pepper vodka got started, IIRC) -- top quality vodka should be smooth, clean, with no bite at ROOM TEMPERATURE.

                                        OK. I've been told that. A lot. But I still prefer my (top quality) vodka in a straight shot right out of the freezer!

                                        But every bartender (sorry, "mixologist") with whom I've discussed this has told me -- stressed, even -- that the "ice melt" (that portion of the ice that turns into water during mixing) is a part of the cocktail. That if you (for example) keep your gin/vodka in the freezer, pour it straight into a Martini glass (taken out of the freezer), add a little Vermouth, and, say, stir with your olive garnish . . . and compare that to the "traditional" way of making it, the latter will be a better drink.

                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          thanks zin ! I equate this to how people ruin tomatoes by refrigerating them.

                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            It's absolutely true what you say. Loosening up the spirit with water improves your ability to taste it. I've found that a 1/2 oz of water in a 2 oz pink gin (which traditionally isn't chilled) improves the drink enormously. Likewise, a little water in an otherwise neat Scotch helps bring out subtle flavors.

                                            Note though that the quality of the water (or ice) is paramount. Unfiltered New Orleans water is close to acceptable but bottled (or filtered, if the filter is maintained) makes for a better drink. Nothing kills a drink faster than lousy water or (horrors!) stale ice.

                                            1. re: montuori

                                              >>> Nothing kills a drink faster than lousy water or (horrors!) stale ice. <<<


                                              1. re: montuori

                                                Thank you for the idea! It is great to find another pink gin drinker and I'm going to try the bit of water tonight.

                                                I do add a splash of water to my Laphroaig and it really opens up peaty Scotch.

                                                And to try to unconfuse Ambiance, I was refering to two item Martinis (or three item in the case of a Perfect Martini) as I have 4 gins, two vodkas and three vermouths on hand. So there will be variations in proportions depending on what gin/vermouth or vodka/vermouth is put together.

                                                Last night I read of an interesting dry Martini, the prefered drink of the old time film director Luis Bunuel. He kept the glass, shaker and English gin in the freezer. A few drops of Noilly Prat and a half demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters onto ice cubes. Next shake and pour out those liguids. Then add gin to coated ice, shake, and strain into frozen glass.

                                                It's from Life is Meals; A food lovers book of days, by James Salter. A fun book

                                        1. I like the Ritz, Cure NOLA, or Bar Uncommon. You can't go wrong with any of these.

                                          1. I have to say, my perfect NOLA martini ... believe it or not is the $4 lunch special beefeater martini at Muriel's. It is always straightforward, the perfect mix of ingredients and temperature. The first time I had it I was impressed. Had to go again to see if it had been a fluke.
                                            Consistently made very time and every single time it satisfies. And the price point ain't exactly shabby!