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Nov 28, 2011 02:53 PM

Martini Party

Im thinking about hosting a martini cocktail party for my friends.

Id obviously have vodka, vermouth, gin, olives (maybe a couple different types of stuffed olives), then Id like a couple other flavored martini options available. Id like to provide many martini options all the whilee keeping the ingredient list to a minimum. So, any ingredients that can be used to make numerous different types of martinis are great. Ideas?

Also, what are some great appetizers or finger foods that go well with a martini themed party?

Also, outside of having 20 different martini shakers any simple ideas (besides a sink) for keeping the martini shakers clean? Theres notihng worse than making a dry gin martini in a shaker that someone just made a cosmo in.

All help and suggestions are appreciated.


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  1. Orange bitters
    Lemon twists
    perhaps pickled onions for Gibsons
    Sweet vermouth for Fifty-Fifty's or Perfect Martinis.

    Buy ice in 20 pound bags. Martinis need to be served very cold.

    With the exception of Dirty Martinis, Martinis should be stirred to keep them silky smooth.

    The orange bitters and lemon twist are my favorites. 2 oz gin, 1 oz dry vermouth (Noilly Prat or other), 1-2 dash orange bitters, stir with ice and strain. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the top to express the oils, and drop in.

    For cleaning, a pair of plastic bins/pans will work. One to dump the shaker's ice and remaining contents. And one filled with water to dip rinse the stirring or shaking vessels.

    1. If your guest list likes real Martinis, then I'd skip the vodka and flavored Martins, buy the stuff yarm suggests, and get 2-4 vastly different gins (maybe something like Hendricks, Plymouth, and Tanqueray? Or go crazy and Ransom Old Tom? Then get a few vastly different vermouths. Personally, I'd skip the sweet vermouths -- I've never liked that cocktail.

      You now have dozens of combinations between the gin, vermouth, bitters (or not) and garnish.

      REALLY sounds like fun. I don't have the Martini-loving friends to support it, but maybe next time I'm with my family, I'll do this.

      -- | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

      2 Replies
      1. re: EvergreenDan

        One problem is as you've stated is that very few people like Martinis. Expanding it out to other cocktails as well might help.

        Another thing is that large glasses -- while great deals at bars and restaurants -- aren't the best for Martinis since they consist mostly booze. The two problems are that your guests will get rocked really early or they'll be stuck holding warm drinks.

        1. re: yarm

          Hallelujah and pass the ammo to sticking with the smaller martini glasses.

          The first time we had one of our little gin-soaked soirees, my wife made the mistake of breaking out our big glasses for the martinis. Take my advice, and refrain from doing this.

          Not only will your party will last longer, there will be fewer suspicious footprints on top of your tables; unless that's what you're shooting for...

      2. Ingredient list: vodka, gin, dry vermouth, lillet blanc, Cointreau (or other good orange liqueur), lemons, limes, orange bitters, angostura bitters, olives.

        Cocktails: Martini and Vodka Martini with different garnishes. Vesper. Replace dry vermouth with Lillet in a martini for a sweeter variation.

        If you have cranberry juice, you can make both Cosmopolitans and Pegus to see how they compare (otherwise just Pegus). You will also have everything on hand to make a Corpse Reviver #2 (even better if you have absinthe or pastis to add a few drops), which is a good introductory cocktail to people who may think they don't like gin. You can also try a White Lady (not a personal favorite).

        I think that would be more than enough, as you don't want it to get overwhelming.

        Most finger foods should work at a cocktail party. You could play up the retro theme and have things like deviled eggs and pigs in blankets.

        1. Chris, the problem you have is that the word "Martini" is (mis-)used to describe virtually any cocktail served in a Martini glass, as opposed to the classic (gin+vermouth) cocktail and the vodka variation. On the other hand, what you have here is a group -- myself included -- comprised largely of purists.

          So . . . IF *I* were going to throw a "Martini Party," I would listen to yarm and Dan:

          -- four different Gins, one "common" (Tanqueray, Beefeater, Bombay); one "upscale" (Plymouth, Boodles, No. 209), one "old style" (Hayden's Old Tom, Ransom Old Tom), one "light" (Hendrick's); two different vodkas (Smirnoff, Hangar One).

          -- three different dry vermouths (Noilly Prat, Vya, Dolan); plus, Caprano Antica Formula and Lillet.

          -- olives (pimento, blue cheese, possible lemon, plain)

          -- cocktail onions

          -- lemon peel

          -- orange bitters

          -- loads of ice!

          -- stemmed glasses

          I agree that Martinis should be stirred, rather than shaken, unless it's a Dirty Martini.

          3 Replies
          1. re: zin1953

            Yeah, I was going to say that when I hear flavored martini I think of something like a Poet's Dream or Third Degree. But considering that the OP mentioned cosmos, I thought a couple cocktails with juice and liqueur would probably work better.

            If you are looking for variants on the actual Martini, check the Savoy book or Savoy Stomp website, as they have lots of them.

            1. re: zin1953

              Oh, and teeny tiny glasses so that you can have a bunch of variations without getting too drunk.

              REALLY sounds like fun.

              1. re: zin1953

                +1for Lillet Blanc. The Deep Sea (equal parts gin and Lillet, with a dash of orange bitters and, optionally, absinthe; stirred with ice and served up) is a really interesting martini variation. On the sweeter side, and very accessible for people who don't usually drink martinis, especially with a mild gin like Hendrick's.

              2. Also don't be afraid to mix and refrigerate your martini ahead of the party. The great thing about a martini is that it's based on simple and easily scaled ratios. A 2:1, 3:1, 4:1 gin to vermouth mixture is painfully simple to upscale.

                Last time we did something like this, we premixed 3:1 ratio of 3 750 ml bottles of Gordon's gin to one 750 ml bottle of a dry vermouth.

                We poured the mix back into bottles, and then chilled them the day before the party. Then all we had to do for the party was pull the bottles from the fridge, pour into a glass, and add a garnish (olives, onions, capers, or smoked oysters).

                The tough part will be figuring out which mixture of gin and vermouth your friends will drink.

                16 Replies
                1. re: deet13

                  You won't have dilution from the ice, so you might want to add some water to compensate and your drink will be around 43*F (refrigerator temp) rather than around 20*F (temp of a high proof iced drink) so you might want to stir with some ice anyway.

                  1. re: EvergreenDan

                    Ice melt accounts for around 30% of the final drink volume, so a 3 oz pour will fit just nicely in a 4 oz glass. Without it, some drinks like the "dry" Martini will be 80 proof bombs.

                    Batching works well, but freezing drinks will either cause them to be too cold or slushy from ice, and the fridge will make them be too warm. If you try to ice down undiluted drinks from the fridge, there will be less dilution from ice melt so you might want to adjust with additional water. A good compromise is a tub of ice water for chilling.


                    1. re: yarm

                      Or maybe keep them in the fridge, then move them to the freezer a couple of hours before service? You'd better keep an eye on them, though, lest you clean the freezer with alcohol and vermouth. ;)

                      1. re: yarm

                        Hmm, a 30% dilution rate is a lot higher than I thought it would be. Next time I measure out a batch, I'll add a bit of ice to the mix before I chill it.

                        If worst comes to worst, and I dilute the mix with too much water, I can always add more gin to the mix...

                        1. re: deet13

                          From Barsmarts manual:

                          You may have to test several quantities for each glass, but in general it’s a rule of thumb that shaking with ice increases a drink’s volume by 25 percent (this will vary with the length and force of your shake or stir and the kind of ice used). When you find the fill level in the shaker glass for each of the serving glasses, make a mental note (like a sort of imaginary mark on the side of the mixing glass) that corresponds to each serving glass. Soon you’ll be able to hit the mark with surprising accuracy.

                          I rounded up to 30% since often times Martinis are mostly booze and they can be chilled colder. And with extra chilling comes extra dilution.


                          1. re: yarm

                            I'm going to put those percentages to the test next week. I'm pretty interested in seeing how much dilution the cocktail can take before it goes watery.

                            It looks like it's time to put my VFW buddies to good use with some mixilogical experimentation. This is especially important prior to the commencement of the oncoming New Years Eve celebrations....

                            1. re: yarm

                              I'd just like to point out that if the ice "increases a drink's volume by 25 percent," then the melted ice only accounts for 20% of the final volume. Obviously the 25% number is a rough estimate anyway, and I have no reason to doubt you about Martinis taking a bit extra, but I'm very skeptical about the idea of melted ice taking up nearly a third of the drink, unless you're letting it sit for too long with the ice or you start with extremely warm liquor.

                              1. re: tristis

                                Why don't you do the experiment? Shake a 3 oz drink and see if it comes out to around 4 oz. Meaning that water from melt takes up 25% of the final volume. This has been noted by multiple people. Exceptions are if you do not cool the drink enough (weak or short shake) or start with chilled/freezer-cold bottles of booze. Variations will occur if it is more boozy (will be more that 25%).

                                With straight spirit, Dave Arnold from the French Culinary Institute got a lot higher than 30%:

                                1. re: yarm

                                  My wife and I will be testing this out it down at our VFW chapter this weekend. Plus I'm curious to see how many of the older guys I can get to toss back a martini, as opposed to their standard beer.

                                  I'll post the results on Sunday or Monday...

                                  1. re: yarm

                                    Out of ten guys, seven of them preferred the dilution rate between fifteen to twenty percent. one of them spit it out and told me to, "Shut the hell up you stupid grunt, and pour me a scotch", while the other two drank their martinis, said, "meh", and then asked for gin and tonics.

                                    Also five out of seven women preferred the dilution rate between fifteen to twenty percent. The other two women actually preferred the martinis stronger (10 to 15% dilution). None of the ladies asked for Cosmos; but then, this is the VFW...

                                    As for the temperatures, when it came to the dilution rates, the colder the drink, the less noticeable the dilution was.

                                    Also, anything over a twenty five percent dilution rate was too much for everyone...

                                    1. re: deet13

                                      If you dilute 10% with ice melt, the drink will not be very cold. Unless you have the bottles in the freezer or fridge to start.

                                      How did you measure dilution amount -- a scale or graduated cylinder? Or mixed in the water and then stuck it in the freezer? For 10% dilution, you would start with 3 oz of room temperature drink, add ice, stir or shake, and end up with 3.33 oz of drink.

                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          25% dilution = 1 oz ice melt, 3 oz starting drink. 1/(3+1).
                                          10% diultion = .33 oz ice melt, 3 oz drink. .33/(3 + .33).

                                        2. re: yarm

                                          I used a scale. I added water to several large glass jars I had already filled with a per-measured amount of gin and vermouth.

                                          Then put the containers into our walk-in cooler overnight to chill them down to approximately 35 degrees...

                                          1. re: deet13

                                            Preference for dilution was not what I was addressing. It is a very valid point though and some bars have worked diligently to make certain recipes work for different spirits and proofs.