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May 11, 2010 10:12 AM

The Perfect Sapphire Martini - Recipe Please!

Confession: I do enjoy cocktails with fruit, I even enjoy cocktails with sour mix....

However, I also occasionally love a great martini without the fluff, not to mention my boyfriend's favorite is a Sapphire martini. (clean)

I'd love to make some at home but would like some guidance, Proportions? What type/brand of vermouth would be best?

Thank you in advance!!

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  1. Throw away your sour mix. There's no excuse for using it at home. Actually, there's no excuse for using it anywhere. Use lemon or lime juice as appropriate for the recipe (generally, vodka, whisky, and brandy get lemon, while gin, tequila, and rum take lime) and simple syrup in equal proportions. Your humble margarita will be elevated to something otherworldly.

    Asking about the perfect martini is like asking what toppings are best on a pizza. If the discussion goes long enough, it could lead to fisticuffs. I'm glad I'm getting in on the ground floor here.

    For the vermouth, you want a French (aka dry) vermouth. There are a number of wonderful artisanal brands on the market. Vya is a wonderful brand, but I don't go through vermouth fast enough around here to justify dropping $20 on a bottle. Oh, speaking of going through vermouth fast enough... Vermouth is a wine, and like all wines it does expire. Once your vermouth is open, keep it in the fridge, it should last there for at least six months. If you've been leaving your vermouth in the liquor cabinet, I want you to go buy a fresh bottle of vermouth. Open it, take a good long whiff, and stick it in the fridge. Then get out the old vermouth, take a good long whiff, and you'll pour it right down the drain without any prodding from me. But back to the vermouth itself... I buy the 375 ml bottles of Noilly Prat and find it quite enjoyable.

    For proportions, you're going to have to figure out what you like best on your own. I like mine with proportions that date back to the old Nick and Nora Charles movies: 1.5 ounces gin, .5 ounce French vermouth, stirred well with ice cubes (until the glass frosts over), and strained into a waiting chilled cocktail glass. When I say stir well, I'm not kidding around. You want to stir it for a good 20 to 30 seconds, until the glass starts to frost over. The ice that melts as a result of all that stirring is essential for a well-made martini. The water rounds off the sharp edges of the gin, resulting in a smooth, eminently drinkable proportion. Oh, that reminds me, if you're storing your gin or vodka in the freezer, take it out right now and leave it on the counter so that ice CAN melt when you make a cocktail. Only keep it in the freezer if you want to do cold shooters, and keep a separate bottle explicitly for that purpose.

    While my ideal martini is 3 parts gin to 1 part vermouth, you may well find you like less vermouth. Or even more. It's *your* martini, do what you want with it. You may do well to set up a martini tasting where you have one with the .5 ounces of vermouth, a dry martini with a 3/4 teaspoon of vermouth (12 to 1), and one in the middle with 1.5 teaspoons (6 to 1). From there, you can narrow it down to your very favorite proportion of gin to vermouth. Keep in mind once you've found your favorite that different gins and vermouths have different characters; what works well for your Bombay Sapphire may be different than your ideal amount for, say, Plymouth.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      I also like Vya is my martinis, and a healthy dash at that. I usually use 3:1 gin to vermouth.

      The best Sapphire martini is one that doesn't use Sapphire! Gag. Go buy some Plymouth...or Citadelle...or Boodles...or Hendrick's, even, and thank me later.

      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

        I also go 3:1 gin and vermouth. Then I add 2 T of olive brine.

        Ok, I lied about he last part.

      2. You might as well be asking what is the perfect shade of blue - everyone's opinion will be slightly different (although JK's is certainly quite good).

        Personally, I feel that Sapphire's somewhat floral/citrus flavor profile lends itself to a healthy dose of vermouth. I'd make my own drink with a 4 to 1 ratio. I also would suggest using Noilly Pratt. Finally, I submit that a martini made with Sapphire in the recommended proportions is best garnished with a twist - not an olive (and certainly no "dirty" juice, etc.).

        4 Replies
        1. re: MGZ

          Fully agree with the 4:1 ratio and the Noilly. Onions (GIBSON) is the way to go.

          1. re: tanker64

            A fine idea, ideed, Sir. Perhaps a drop of bitters in the shaker, sould we go the Gibson route?

          2. Personally I don't like Sapphire. But, that said, I would probably go for an even older, early 1900's, ratio of 2:1 gin to vermouth, or even a 1:1, plus a small dash of orange bitters and a lemon twist. Stirred of course, never shaken.

            11 Replies
            1. re: JMF

              I support JMF's ideal martini whole heartedly.

              Although with the title of a "Perfect Martini", perhaps the recipe should be adjusted to 2 gin:1 dry vermouth:1 sweet vermouth + a dash of orange bitters and a lemon twist. Otherwise, it's just a good Martini.


              1. re: yarm

                To clarify to the OP what yarm means above, a Perfect Martini is a drink made with half sweet vermouth and half dry vermouth, as opposed to a martini that is perfectly made, which I assume is what you're asking for.

                A Perfect Martini (or Manhattan) is an entirely different drink.

                2:1 or 1:1 is a bit too much vermouth for me, but I do want to be able to taste it. These days it's necessary to be really clear on that to bartenders --- hell, wanting a gin martini is something I feel necessary to point out.

                1. re: JonParker

                  Whenever I order a Gibson out, I always start by quizing the bartender about what Gins he has. That usually gets the point across that i want GIN, not Vodka. It also allows me to try new Gins that I don't normally see in my area (Providence, RI). Traveling alot helps the process also.
                  Another trick that a friend of mine uses is to print the receipe that he wants on a cheap business card that he prints at home. He has several of his favorites available in his wallet at all times. He simply passes it to the bartender with his initial drink.

                  1. re: tanker64

                    Key phrase being "usually". I do the same thing with manhattans & rye, and yet I've seen them dutifully answer my question about which ryes they have, listen to me ask for a rye manhattan and still make it with bourbon.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      Ignorance by "bartenders" is a punishable offense. And I have the same issue with manhattans also.

                      1. re: jgg13

                        which brand(s) of rye do you recomend for the manhattans?

                        1. re: raider

                          My standbys are Old Overholt or Jim Beam yellow label, both of which are inexpensive and very good. The Beam has a crisper flavor while the Overholt is a bit smoother.

                          Some may disagree with me, but I think the Wild Turkey 101 rye is quite good.

                          1. re: JonParker

                            agree on Wild Turkey 101. i find higher alcohol whiskeys work best if you want a 2:1 ratio with a good vermouth like carpano antica. another good option is Old Weller Antique bourbon, which is 107 proof and also quite inexpensive..

                          2. re: raider

                            I like both the Sazerac (6 yr) and Russel's Reserve. Both are around $25-27 US. At a slightly higher price point, Michter's and High West's "Rendezvous" ryes are both pretty good (about $45-50 / bottle).

                            Old Overholt is pretty good, and a lot of folks like the Rittenhouse 100 proof (about $20 / bottle). Both seem a little short on the finish to me neat, but are pretty good mixing ryes. I would probably try to shoot for a little bit more dilution when making a Manhattan with the Rittenhouse.

                            1. re: raider

                              For mixing purposes I really like Rittenhouse, but am AOK with Sazerac, Old Overcoat, Turkey, Beam, etc. I mainly just ask as a way to impress upon them that yes, I really do want it to be rye.

                              1. re: jgg13

                                What about Lillet as a vermouth substitute?
                                Here's my recipe:
                                4 parts gin
                                1 part Lillet
                                3 olives

                                The lillet is a superb flavor, to me its the perfect mix of orange bitters and sweet vermouth.
                                If you haven't tried it - I'd recommend it.
                                If you have, what do you think of Lillet?

                  2. I've actually converted several martini haters with this one:

                    2 parts Bombay Sapphire or Boodles Gin (room temperature)
                    1 part Noilly Pratt vermouth (refrigerated or room temperature)

                    Fill your shaker with (preferably) commercial ice cubes and let the shaker chill for a minute. Pour about half a cup of fresh water (bottled or reverse osmosis is best) into the shaker, then shake briefly and strain out all the water. This helps to remove any undesirable odors or flavors from the ice and shaker. Pour in the gin and vermouth. Shake it for about 30 seconds. Pour immediately into waiting martini glasses. Garnish with Santa Barbara Olive Company Jalapeno Stuffed Olives (accept no substitutes - the other brands I've tried really don't work with this drink).

                    10 Replies
                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                            Violently disagree but of course- to each his own...

                            My thoughts are pure heresy to most martini afficianados but I've tried a million different things, trust me, so nobody is going to talk me off my own private ledge...

                            My house "recipe"-
                            Into a shaker go:
                            * 3 ounces Sapphire (or other good Q Gin) (okay- maybe a little more if it's Fri or Sat night)
                            * Half a capful of dry vermouth (very late 20th century measures for sure)
                            * One thin slice of lemon peel (no pith)

                            Shake mightily to achieve maximum coldness. If you have a metal shaker it should be at the point where it hurts to hold it. If you have one of those shakers with the 8 small holes to pour the elixer through.. take the top of and use a real bar strainer.

                            Pour the martini into a very cold martini glass. Garnish with a single olive (not a fan of standard fake-pimento stuffed olives- prefer a good marinated pickled pit-in olive esp Santa Barbara zesty ones) and another sliver of lemon zest rubbed around the rim. And yes- I sometimes like a jalapeno stuffed olive which I enjoy as dessert when the drink is done.

                            This is not a refined drink, obviously.. but very refreshing and takes the edge off a day for sure.

                            1. re: e_bone

                              We have extremely different takes on what makes a proper martini, apparently. You seem to like a shaken glass of cold gin. That, to me, has nothing to do with a martini.

                              1. re: e_bone

                                I like this idea, particularly adding the lemon peel to the shaker. And I agree that Santa Barbara olives are very good. But I must know--why should you use a "real bar strainer"? Is it just the way it pours out? Or do you think you're catching more ice chips with a strainer than with a cocktail shaker lid?

                                1. re: guilty

                                  @guilty- I just use a bar strainer as I'm impatient trying to get the liquid past those ice-clogged holes in the lid of the shaker. I like to be able to just pour it and walk away. Not: pour... vibrate.. pour ... shake.. pour... shake a little more...

                                  1. re: e_bone

                                    Thanks for the explanation. I guess I either use less ice or I'm just less determined than you . . .

                                    1. re: guilty

                                      we made "stirred" tini's in a pitcher the other night as the shakers were in the dishwasher. very nice for a change of pace. with less ice "meltage" the gin is stronger (duh) and more silky in texture. more vermouth is a necessity with a stirred tini I think.

                      1. I don't get the whole dirty martini idea. I like those Santa Barbara olives that are nice and plump, and I actually have been known to rinse off the external brine. Probably a pointless gesture, but I'd rather taste the gin and vermouth. As regards Sapphire, I like the Bombay taste but prefer the regular, about 3:1 with NP (I have yet to branch out into other vermouths). BTW, I find that jalapeno potato chips make an excellent accompaniment.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: tim irvine

                          I always get a kick out of reading a post and being in complete agreement.

                          1. re: tim irvine

                            Another one who doesnt get the dirty martini idea. If I want a mouthful of brine, I go to a deli and get some pickles.

                            Been working with Lillet vice Noilly Prat for the last month or so and find it very acceptable in a martini. Sort of vermouth and bitter all in one. I still use the 3:1 or 4:1 ratios (depends on how irritating work and traffic were and what day of the week it is). Still a huge fan of the Gibson (onions).

                            Sapphire is stil my "go to" Gin, with Plymouth, Bombay and Boodles close seconds. New Amsterdam I tried and use for G&T; to much orange/bubblegum flavor.