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Jan 24, 2010 03:55 PM

Best martini?

Where can I find the best (and biggest) martini in Boston proper? (I'm not talking about "foo foo" drinks in a martini glass, I'm talking about a classic premium x'dry gin martini with a quality olive.
Price is not an issue as long as it is justified.

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    1. The Oak Room/Bar (you get a personal carafe or shaker with your well-chilled large glass) and Rowes Wharf (especially if you can get them to make you a blue cheese-stuffed olive like the ones that used to be on the drink menu - the best I have had anywhere) are my picks for volume and quality

      4 Replies
      1. re: rlh

        I'd have to agree - hands down - the Oak Bar. Great classic martinis in such a beautiful environment. I personally go there for their delicious dirty martinis. Yum!

        1. re: CreativeFoodie42

          Ooh, I'm always on the lookout for a good dirty martini. I'll have to sample one at the Oak Room some time. Had a great one at Green Street on Saturday night.

        2. re: rlh

          It sounds as thought the Oak Bar may have inherited The Title from the Ritz-Carlton of the 1970's & before (also with a little carafe). This is valuable information for the likes of me becuase I am usually set-in-my-ways and my martini joints have beenthe old Ritz(prior to Taj---and does anyone know if the Taj folks are running a good operation there?) and Locke-Ober, from whoim I have a little shot glass with the name etched on it that they gave me a million years ago. A school friend always had his Ritz martinis shaken but I come from the stir school a,d. despite the ANSI booklet that defines the American Standard Dry Martini, in hot New Orleans I do take ice.

          Will go by the Copley next time I am in town.

          1. re: hazelhurst

            The Ritz Martini, in the pre-Taj Ritz, in 1977, still resonates in my mind. Perfect in every way.

        3. I don't drink martinis myself, but my wife does, and her problem with the Oak Room martini is that it is shaken. As we learned at Tom's (ex Craigie) cocktail class, drinks with straight liquor should be stirred, not shaken. The course was actually called "Stirred not Shaken why James Bond got it wrong". Ever since then I have always stirred my wife's martinis instead of shaking, and she says they are markedly better. I do believe that most places shake (it is much easier than proper stirring). I'm sure that Tom has instructed the good folks at Craigie to stir their martinis. I would try one there.

          11 Replies
          1. re: kimfair1

            Could you explain the difference in taste or quality between shaken and stirred?

            1. re: powerfulpierre

              I don't think it makes a change in taste, other than that small particles of ice get into the drink if you shake it, causing a change in the texture, but it's my understanding that one doesn't shake clear drinks for presentation reasons. If you shake a martini, it looks cloudy when you pour it. That's not the case if it's stirred.

              1. re: kitsune

                As Yarm says below, it does make a difference in taste. Is it huge? No, but the shaken one does have a "sharper" taste for lack of a better word. Again, I don't drink gin martini's (VERY bad college experience) and only started drinking gin in any form after Tom S-G who was at Eastern Standard at the time made me my first Aviation. I think the problem lies in that once you've decided you like it better stirred (as my wife has), then shaken doesn't do it for you anymore (not that she won't drink a shaken one if offered!).

              2. re: powerfulpierre

                I once asked John Gertsen this when he was bartending at No. 9, so to best demonstrate, he made up two martinis - identical in every way save for the shake vs. stir.

                Both were about the same temperature and dilution amount, but the shaken one was cloudier and had a sharper note. The stirred one was a more delightful drink to see and to taste.

                Would you know the difference taste-wise if you were served only one? Probably not. Would you know which one was shaken or stirred from appearance, within the first few minutes, definitely.

                This doesn't even include the ice shards floating on top of a drink after a cold shake (without a second fine straining).


                1. re: yarm

                  Thanks for the shaken vs stirred info. I never would have thought it but your responses make sense. I might have to try that comparison at home, maybe a couple of times just to confirm.

                  1. re: yarm

                    Interesting - I've recently gotten into martinis and prefer them shaken. I like both the look and feel of that bit of crushed ice that shaking gives. I also think that having a little ice in the glass to start helps the drink stay colder.

                    But for me the key is not shaking vs stirring but that drop or two of orange bitters. Makes all the difference.

                  2. re: powerfulpierre

                    My understanding is that from a rigorous craft bartending perspective you only shake when you have non-spirits (e.g. juices, cream, etc.) and want that festive, foamy drink with ice bits - you stir spirits only to chill and keep it clear, minimize aeration and NOT foamy at all.

                    That said, it's ultimately a personal preference and most any (good) bartender will make any drink to your specifications - my wife loves her dirty martinis shaken to get the ice bits and they are cloudy anyway - therefore, they are shaken for her.

                    On the other hand, I was shocked and quite disappointed to get a heavily shaken Manhattan with huge amounts of foam on top (still trying to figure out where that came from) from Grill 23. Now I wish I had sent it back....

                  3. re: kimfair1

                    I was always told that one stirs brown liquor and shakes clear liquor. Shaking dilutes the cocktail more, which is why some prefer to stir gin or vodka. I'm not a bartender, so I could be all wet (no pun intended).

                    The Oak Bar does do great cocktails.

                    1. re: CocoDan

                      Interesting. I'm suddenly thinking that you might be right, but I think what I've read is that the martini is the exception to the shaking rule. I am also not a bartender, though, so I certainly could be wrong!

                      1. re: kitsune

                        At the cocktail class I took with Tom S-G. his rule was liquor only (no caveats about the liquors color), stir only, add citrus, or other non-alcoholic additions, shake. Add raw egg, shake like hell! Even the stirring can make a difference. When I tried to make my own Sazerac cocktail the first time at home it was just OK. Then I had one at Craigie that was much better, and Tom told me that to get that drink right, it was a long stir, meaning, stir some, let it sit, stir again, let it sit, repeat a third time then pour. I will say the next Sazerac I made at home was MUCH better, and they have been ever since.

                        1. re: kimfair1

                          I first observed that version of the shake/stir rule at Angel's Share in NYC, which was one of the first places I know of that took classic cocktails very seriously, in a preservationist (not creative) spirit.

                          And yes, managing the degree of dilution is very important. I think the method Tom describes is a key element of the old school steakhouse or tony hotel bar martini. It is rather diluted but not disturbed.

                  4. agree on Oak room. Grill 23 as well.

                    1. You forgot the vermouth in your description :)

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: jgg13

                        And orange bitters (ducking for cover), if you go with a twist.

                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                          Absolutely, the orange bitters are critical!

                          1. re: BobB

                            I'm going to have to try making one for the wife w/orange bitters.

                            1. re: kimfair1

                              Don't overdo it - a drop or two is enough.

                              1. re: BobB

                                Will do. I won't have a chance to try this tonight, as we're going out to a play, but I'll report back on her reaction to it, as soon as I try it.

                                1. re: kimfair1

                                  That sounds like fun! If she's a regular martini drinker, try to add it when she's not looking and see if she notices the difference.

                                2. re: BobB

                                  I disagree about the drop or two -- a hearty dash in mine! It helps bring out the citrus peel notes in both the gin and vermouth's botanical mix. Then again, I also like fiddy-fiddy Martinis (a jigger of gin, a jigger of dry vermouth, a dash of orange bitters, stirred with a lemon twist).

                                  1. re: yarm

                                    I'm a 3-to-1er (gin to vermouth) myself.

                                    1. re: BobB

                                      So the first one I made her, ended up with more of a dash than a drop. She thought it was too much. The second one was exactly one drop, and she said it was better than the first, but she preffered them without the bitters. I tried both, and liked the first one best. I liked how it mellowed the florals in the gin.