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For Those Who Like Martinis

Slate.com has been running a series of articles about Martinis, which includes a Martini Madness bracket of 64 versions squaring off for a highly subjective, tongue in cheek taste-off.

Many interesting versions, some with stories, worth a look if you like Martinis. Here is a link to the bracket with all 64 "finalists, " but the articles in the series are interesting as well.

http://www.slate.com/content/slate/ar...

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  1. While they look tasty, a lot of those skating by on the martini name, but a bit short of the martini substance!

    For example:
    Champagne Antoine
    Ingredients
    1 ounce gin
    1 ounce dry vermouth
    1/8 ounce Pernod
    4 ounces dry Champagne
    Garnish
    lemon twist

    1 Reply
    1. re: khuzdul

      Yep, I'd say that the Antoine is mighty tasty but not, strictly speaking, a martini. And I'm bored with brackets too, but anything that gets folks talking about the concept of a proper martini is a good thing IMHO.
      Excuse me while I fix up another Antoine! Cheers.

    2. Yeah, I saw this as well. To me, Slate's "articles" are basically at the level of Yahoo's in terms of quality and depth. This Martini tournament would have been a lot better with fewer variations. Like khuzdul pointed out, many of these are "martinis" only because they tend to be served up, in a "martini" glass and have gin as an ingredient. Given their lax standards, why not include The Last Word as a choice for best martini. It's just a load of rubbish. Then again, Troy Patterson, the guy behind this, is such a hack that you shouldn't expect too much.

      1 Reply
      1. Some people might opine that there's only one finalist in that list, namely one with just gin and vermouth.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sr44

          And orange bitters. And a lemon twist.

        2. I think that March Madness brackets for everything is getting a bit old.

          On the other hand, I don't think Slate's criteria for the drinks was that bad. Their premise is that a drink must have both gin and an aromatized wine (vermouth) to qualify as a Martini variation. Many of the drinks they have listed are just gin, vermouth, bitters (or not) and garnish. The Savoy has a ton of Martini variations in it all under different names, and in the old days sweet vermouth was used in Martinis and all kinds of modifiers were added to drinks to fancy them up.

          Even the Champagne Antoine is essentially a variant on a Martini variant (Third Degree with Champagne). So while I care not at all which drink wins the bracket, it is a decent place to find some drink ideas for people who like Martinis.

          4 Replies
          1. re: nickls

            If you want to go back to the roots, you can trace a lot of cocktails back from the 1800s down to a basic recipe of spirit + fortified wine + dash of bitters. eg Manhattan, Marguerite.

            That does not make every drink that contains whiskey + fortified wine + dash of bitters (then adds in two times as much volume of other ingredients) something that should be called a Manhattan, nor should every gin + fortified wine + dash of bitters + more something should be called a Marguerite (the Marguerite has been a recipe in print in the same name contemporary to the the earliest claims of any drink linked to the Martini / Martinez in print, so which is a variant of the other or are they simply different cocktails...) A Vesper is often considered a cocktail in it's own right and not "just" a martini variant.

            If one decides that just because there is some vestigial resemblance between any two things to call them a "variant", then reductio ad absurdum, you could say that a hyena is a cat variant or a sea lion a dog variant, and pretty soon we will have human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

            In the end, what is or is not authentic or properly termed is in the eye of the beholder. If the Slate believes that all those recipies are martinis, then bully for them, but dagnabbit, they ain't going to be putting no slick moves over the old geezers, cause back in the day you could only get a martini if you made the gin yourself in a bathtub, and if it was good enough for Moses, it's good enough for me!

            FWIW, I sometimes order an extra dry Martini, and I don't really consider them to be a true martini, rather a quadruple shot of gin served straight up. I'm also OK with people calling their drink XYZ-tini or XYZ Martini after the glass rather than a variation off of the Martini drink, even if in the end I'll judge them when they ask for a double chocolaty red-eye soy chai with an extra-extra shot of espresso martini with syrup on top (but sweetened with stevia/agave nectar instead of sugar please because I'm on a diet), so I'm not especially pedantic about the use of the term "Martini" in the end.

            1. re: khuzdul

              I just find the whole tournament stupid. Honestly, if it had just been, say, eight variations, it might have been more manageable, but as it is, it's absurd. Again, Troy Patterson, Slate's self-styled TV critic, booze writer, and intelligent humorist is behind this. I've never read anything by the guy to think he has any interesting views on TV, knows much at all about booze (other than, hey, I got wasted in Brooklyn, let me tell you about the hip bars I was at), or is intelligently humorous in the slightest, but lots of folks enjoy him, so, each to their own.

              1. re: khuzdul

                Right. And if you do want to be pedantic, then a Martini is not a cocktail. A Cocktail is a cocktail (AKA Old Fashioned). But is an Improved Cocktail a Cocktail? No, it's an Improved Cocktail. I'm sure there was a lot of debate back in the day over how those dandies were sullying the Cocktail name with their Improved and Fancy Cocktails (or maybe not).

                It's all down to a lot of semantics, and how you want to define things. Should every different garnish provide a different name for a Martini (or any drink)? What about every specific type of bitters? What about every different ratio of ingredients? What about every exact brand and bottling of spirits?

                Even a Martini is ill-defined these days. A 50-50 is a far cry from a modern extra dry, and are garnishes and bitters required, allowed, or forbidden in a true Martini? Who really cares, let's all just have a drink, made how we like it.

                1. re: nickls

                  Those gosh-darned new fangled old-fashioned cocktails are just bittered slings anywhoo!

                  And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you meddling kids!