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Martinis without Vermouth - The New Normal (At Least in LA)

It seems whack that you can't order a Martini and get a Martini at most nice restaurants in the second largest city in the country. Found this out at Mastro's in Beverly Hills, which is a very nice and celeb-filled steak house, by accident when I asked how much vermouth is normally included in a Martini. They said "none." Then started asking around at many nice LA restaurants over the past two years. Have yet to find a restaurant that tells me they include vermouth as the norm. Not even a drop. They tell me that people don't want vermouth in their Martinis. I point out that without vermouth they are not serving Martinis. Next place I'm going to check is Musso and Frank Grill, but I'm almost afraid of the answer. Anyone else have this experience in their cities?

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    1. Last time I was at Mastro's with someone who ordered a Martini, the waiter responded, "what kind of vodka would you like in it?"

      3 Replies
        1. re: sku

          No.

          (i'm not disagreeing with you, simply opining on the whole thing there. No.)

              1. re: ultramagnetic

                Not even remotely new. I'm wondering if the OP just turned 21.

                1. re: Alcachofa

                  I'm not surprised to come across the vermouthless Martini AT ALL. Just surprised that it's so prevalent in a town that's in the throes of the "authentic" mixology trend. I'm surprised that it's happening in places that proudly serve real sazeracs and daiquiris and other drinks that require at least a modicum of knowledge of cocktail recipes to create.

                  1. re: signofthefourwinds

                    I'm surprised it is happening at the types of places you've just described, too, though up top you listed a couple of touristy places where I would expect no-vermouth martinis.

                    Have you been to the Varnish, Seven Grand, and/or Edison?

                    1. re: signofthefourwinds

                      Mastro's and the like do not serve real sazeracs or daiquiris. What very established places like Mastro's will do is revamp their tired bar program so as to not get left completely behind the times. They'll offer a few revived classics like you mention, but they won't be made correctly at all.

                      I'm curious which restaurants you surveyed. I'm not trying to be obnoxious, I'm just really curious. Partly so that I can avoid them!

                      Most of the places that I've been really enjoying lately have superb bar programs. What i find is, for the most part, newer restaurants that opened during or since people started taking their cocktails a bit more seriously have excellent bar programs. Those are the places you can get a great martini, too.

                      Just a few restaurants that are putting out excellent drinks along with their excellent food:

                      Sotto
                      Picca
                      Red Medicine
                      Tasting Kitchen
                      Rivera
                      Son of a Gun
                      A-Frame
                      ink
                      Lukshon
                      Jar
                      Providence

                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                        Although at a recent visit to Rustic Canyon, I watched he bartender make my martini and was surprised to see him free-pour the vermouth into the mixing glass full of ice (when he had been measuring everything else). I understood why when the next step was that he poured the vermouth out then measured the gin and proceeded to complete the drink. Sigh…I had higher hopes. Wish I had said something.

                        On another note, not that people go here for cocktails, but Melisse has some serious bar tending going on, as evidenced by a very nice piece of clear ice in a cocktail I had there (not many places do that). Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the cocktail is any good, but it is a clear sign (get it) that some attention to detail is being payed to the cocktails. And I love the look.

                        1. re: cobpdx

                          That's disappointing re: Rustic Canyon, but thanks for the heads-up about Melisse. I haven't been because $$$$, but maybe that needs to be my next splurge.

                          One issue with serving a proper martini in any bar is that it's such a familiar drink for people. You know, put a vieux carre on the menu and you can make it properly because nearly no one has an established point of view. With martinis, you're fighting very established tastes. You're picking a fight when you insist on gin and you're picking another when you insist on vermouth.

                          Still, plenty of places in LA are doing it right!

                        2. re: cacio e pepe

                          While going over in my head the places I've been since making my accidental discovery that evening at Mastro's last May, I realize pretty much only drink martinis at a restaurant when I'm having a steak. That being said, here are the places at which I've inquired and been told the default recipe is no vermouth. There might be a couple more and I'll modify the list as and if they come to me.

                          Spark, Studio City. A wood fire grill that has a modest but decent cocktail list.
                          Morton's, Burbank.
                          Fleming's Steakhouse, Beverly Hills
                          Cut, steakhouse, Beverly Hills
                          Black Angus, Burbank. Not a surprise, I know.
                          Damon's, tiki themed steak house, Glendale. Again, not really surprising since one of their two trademark drinks is a completely bastardized Mai Tai.

                          1. re: signofthefourwinds

                            See, absolutely none of those places are the type of place which could be described as "places that proudly serve real sazeracs and daiquiris and other drinks that require at least a modicum of knowledge of cocktail recipes to create." So, I still don't understand why you're going there and expecting a real martini.

                            1. re: Alcachofa

                              Gotta agree.

                              On a side note, I used to love going to the Pacific Dining Car bar and ordering manhattans. It was always dead as a tomb in there and a friend and I enjoyed seeing what they would give me when I said, "I'll have a manhattan." Nothing more.

                              Examples include: sometimes from the same bartender during the same sitting:

                              1. 50/50 with no bitters. On the rocks.
                              2. Bourbon, bitters on the rocks.
                              3. Bourbon, vermouth, no bitters, served up.
                              4. All bourbon. Two separate pours. On the rocks. Talk about ADD.

                              One time I got a bit persnickety and ordered "a manhattan with extra bitters, up." A new bartender with a strong Irish brogue told me in a professorial tone that manhattans never have bitters in them. I just said, "This one will."

                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                  Better than the one I got that had no whiskey of any kind (vodka maybe), no sweet vermouth (cranberry juice maybe), sour mix, and a neon cherry advertised on the menu as a Luxardo.

                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                      Cranberry. He probably bled. Tears go in the vermouth-less Martinis. :)

                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                    Wow, the worst Manhattan I ever had was made with, well, blended whiskey, shaken, stale sweet vermouth, no bitters, on the rocks, stale neon cherries. I watched, stared, left.

                                    1. re: JMF

                                      What, no "cherry juice" tipped in from the maraschino cherry sludge?

                                  2. re: Alcachofa

                                    (in reply to Alcachofa)Years ago, you could expect a real martini in lots of places, and some of the best were in steakhouses. It's a simple standard. There are so many reasons this has gone downhill (vodka, spoiled vermouth, poor training, bravado...) but there is no reason any bar should not be able to still do this, it's hardly necessary to be expensive or cocktail-crafty, it's two standard ingredients, made cold.

                                    1. re: Up With Olives

                                      That would be three ingredients. Orange bitters are essential.

                                      1. re: Up With Olives

                                        Three ingredients if you use orange bitters ;)

                                        But yeah, I agree. One of the many reasons they are one of the cocktails I most commonly make around the house is that it's just so simple. No need to take down lots of bottles, no need to juice fresh fruits (and clean up the juicer and strainer) and no shaking means no need to wash the shaker. Such a simple cocktail, and yet...well...this thread.

                                        1. re: Up With Olives

                                          I'm aware that these are not at all hard drinks to make properly. I'm also aware of the history, and that you could go almost anywhere in the '50s - early '60s and get these drinks without a problem. Heck, even Marilyn Monroe pronounced "maraschino" correctly in "Some Like it Hot".

                                          That was then, this is now. I would not expect an even semi-knowledgeable bartender at Fleming's or Morton's, except by luck. That's all I'm sayin'.

                                          1. re: Alcachofa

                                            Funny, I feel like I had better luck (in regular restaurants and bars) in the '90s than today. Of course, I always looked for the most mature bartender....

                                      2. re: signofthefourwinds

                                        Can't speak for any of the others, but I always have specified my gin:vermouth ratio at Damon's and gotten it.

                                        Thing is, when a drink has as many variations as the martini does, it's a mistake to simply ask for a martini and hope they're reading your mind. And if you do specify and they say "We don't do that," then I'd seriously consider asking for a beer. Or lemonade. Or going somewhere else. He's supposed to be making my drink, not his.

                              1. I see this a lot in NYC too, everywhere from Irish bars to top notch places. You must ask, and request, and even then they often will not comply. Truly demented.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Up With Olives

                                  Twenty years ago I got to know a bartender at a very good, mid-level type NYC restaurant and she proudly explained how she made her dry martini--yes, you guessed it. I never ordered one from her...

                                2. I've never seen this, ever, in NYC, or the 'burbs, or up in New England. Then again, I only order martini's in fine cocktail bars and restaurants. I wouldn't think of ordering one anywhere else.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JMF

                                    I adored my martini at Bar Pleiades, had ordered Junipero, "not too dry." Next time in, I began same order to waitress, and then felt silly, said "oh, you always make them great here" and she reminded me I should be making my specific order b/c otherwise they are made without vermouth. I was shocked because drinks there are always excellent.

                                  2. 1. This is not new at all. It's the low-point of the ultra-dry martini trend that was around in the 90s (perhaps earlier). Things are moving well in the opposite direction in LA and have been for awhile. Mastro's is just slow to catch up.

                                    2. Musso and Frank will do very right by you. Enjoy!

                                    1. I guess I should be happy that I work at a place is where the stock recipe is 7:1. I just wish it was at least 3:1 like our Manhattan. When I'm at home, my go to is either 2:1 or 50-50.

                                      http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: yarm

                                        Both Martini and Manhattan, at home, and the bars I consult to, I go with 2.66:1 = 2 oz. spirit to .75 oz. vermouth

                                        1. re: JMF

                                          This is about where I am, too. And a dash of orange bitters in the martini, a few dashes of angostura style in the manhattan.

                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                            Yes, orange bitters in martini and angostura or other aromatic bitters in manhattan.

                                            1. re: JMF

                                              Definitely orange bitters in the Martini. My martini is 2.5 oz of gin and .75 of vermouth.

                                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                While I'm not a martini drinker, the wife is, and I make hers at 2.5 to 1 if using Dolin, 2.5 to 0.5 if using Noilly-Pratt (which she isn't as fond of). I've tried the orange bitters on her as well, but she prefers it without. Luckily in Boston we have enough quality bars that know how to make a proper martini, she doesn't generally have a problem (though she doesn't often order them when we go out- just at home). The "what vodka do you want" infuriates me. She didn't ask for a vodka martini, she asked for a martini.

                                          2. re: JMF

                                            I've been trying to get myself to like Martinis. I tried your ratio tonight, and magic: This is awesome. Thanks, JMF!

                                            1. re: jaba

                                              What gin, vermouth, and bitters did you use?

                                              1. re: JMF

                                                Beefeater, Noilly Prat, Fee Bros
                                                Any other suggestions?

                                                1. re: jaba

                                                  The possibilities are endless... but lately I really like Tuthilltown Half Moon Orchard gin, Knickerbocker gin, and Greensmiths gin. Dolin and Boisserie dry vermouth are presently two of my favs. As for orange bitters, I like Angostura best, then Regans and Fees. There are others that I have yet to try.

                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                    Years ago I bought a bottle of Fees and a bottle of Regans. To my palate and nose, Fees was the more sweet and florally orange, whereas Regans was the more herbally complex and bitter. After using them as stand-alones for a while, I combined them, after reading that JIm Meehan did the same thing at PDT, and that combo has basically been my orange bitters ever since. I picked up a bottle of Angostura orange last year, mostly out of curiosity and because it was so cheap, and I'll be damned if it is not REALLY close to my equal mix of Fee and Regans. Once I run out of my Fees/Reagan blend I'll probably just stick with the very affordable Angostura.

                                                    Jaba, glad to hear you've found the magic formula for enjoying a martini. It was the same thing with me. I hated the things for decades because on the rare occasions I ever sampled one, it was basically a cocktail glass of cold gin with a few olives in it. To this day I have no idea how anyone could find salty gin with olives to be anything other than revolting. I read Bitters, by Brad Parsons, a few years back when I was just getting into cocktails. His Martini recipe sounded different enough from what I had previously sampled that I tried it, and voila...all of a sudden I found out I loved martinis, so long as it's a well-made martini and not a glass of cold salty gin.

                                        2. Even if they have vermouth, 99% of the time they neither refrigerate it or vacu-seal it. God help you if you're trying to find someplace that uses Dolin or Noily Pratt. Oh, and try to tell them you want a lemon twist and no olives! All are reasons why I never order martinis at bars or restaurants. Despite having a rather extensive home bar, one of the great joys of being able to make a damn good drink at home is the simple pleasures of making a proper martini that I know is better than any I will find in the DC area.

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: The Big Crunch

                                            Too many rancid olives have forced me to usually order a lemon twist. So sad.

                                            1. re: Up With Olives

                                              I was taught that putting olives in a martini basically negates the purpose of using good gin. That a twist is the "proper" accoutrements :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                I got to have my olives.

                                                Yes, you can strip away my street cred. :)

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  When making martinis at home, I always rinse the olives to rid them of brine.

                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                    So glad to know someone else does this!

                                                    When ordering a martini in a restaurant I have decided it best to be fairly specific, not too complicated, and not get into any back and forth unless I am talking to the actual bartender AND they appear to be interested. I just ask for Bombay and Noilly, 4:1, shaken thirty times, olive on the side. It is not the martini I would craft at home but it will be good.

                                                    1. re: tim irvine

                                                      Shaken 30 times ????

                                                      The bartender will give it to me like a pugilist strung out on crack if I pose that question.

                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                        Ok...well shaken. If they are going to do three shakes and strain it I can more nearly approximate it by ordering it on the rocks and fishing out the ice cubes.

                                                        1. re: tim irvine

                                                          Why shaken? It takes the crystal clarity and turns it more cloudy. Mouthfeel is less smooth and over dilution is far more likely.

                                                        2. re: kevin

                                                          I was once asked to make one for him and his wife shake 26 times. I first got excited that when he said that he was into "classic martinis," but his lacked vermouth (his wife allowed it though) and he wanted it shaken not stirred. A lot of extra effort to count to 26 while shaking it turns out. Bizarre, but it made them happy, so it made me happy too. Their tipping style later, not so much.

                                                          http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com

                                              2. One solution is to be willing to enjoy a cold glass of gin, which is not a bad drink.

                                                Another is to order a Negroni, which is indestructible,

                                                --
                                                www.kindredcocktails.com

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                  Another trick is to order Hendrick's, so it is softer and doesn't knock the top of your head off. Or watch the bartender and keep saying "MORE!" when s/he's adding the vermouth.

                                                  1. re: Up With Olives

                                                    Unless the bartender has to reach into the back row of bottles behind the bar to retrieve the vermouth, which has a light layer of dust upon its surface. If that's the case, you order a beer ;)

                                                    1. re: Up With Olives

                                                      Ugh to Hendricks. I didn't know what I didn't like it til I found out it has a cucumber taste and I LOATHE cucumbers!

                                                  2. I think it is time for all of us martini drinkers to acknowledge that we don't want vermouth in our drinks.

                                                    9 Replies
                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      A martini is a drink with gin and vermouth. Maybe it's time for gin drinkers to admit that they actually don't like Martinis, just cold gin served "up" in a cocktail glass with some olives floating in it.

                                                      1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                        This. There is nothing wrong with cold gin with a twist or olive. I had a glass last night because I had only Negroni makings and I didn't feel like another Negroni.

                                                        But I agree, let's not call that a Martini. It just causes confusion.

                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                            Could not agree more....My experience in New Orleans drove the point home, for me:
                                                            - Had been trying, over several visits, to track down a well-known bartender, Chris McMillan. He's known for his deep and rich understanding of classic cocktails and their history.
                                                            - Found him, almost by accident, and ordered "A Martini".
                                                            - All he asked was "What gin and preferred garnish". I went with Hendrick's and lemon twist...my go-to so that I don't have the back of my head blow off, at home, and don't get rancid olives...upthread acknowledgements for these descriptions.
                                                            - He served me the best cocktail I had ever had.
                                                            - Turned out to be: 3 parts gin; one part vermouth (couldn't tell the label); two dashes of Angostura brand orange bitters; GENTLY stirred and into a chilled up-glass.

                                                            Now I'm back home, pounding my head on a brick wall, trying to get bartenders in Wisconsin to even LOOK at the vermouth bottle....

                                                            1. re: Monch

                                                              It's always great when a consummate bartender works their craft and you get to sip and just sit back and enjoy. Chris and Laura McMillian are great folks. I have sat chatting with Laura many a time while Chris makes drinks and tells his stories. Or huddled in a corner with Chris, discussing cocktail history, while sipping something interesting.

                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                Absolutely.

                                                                My wife had to DRAG me away from that bar, that night.

                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                          I just got tied of my martini having way too much of weird tasting vermouths. I'd rather just have a good gin on ice.

                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                            Which weird tasting vermouths?

                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                              Sorry, I didn't ask, but they were aggressively herbaceous.

                                                      2. There was a fad in Manhattan a while ago -I haven't seen it recently- of using a (perfume bottle-style) atomiser to spritz the interior of a martini glass with vermouth before filling it with gin.

                                                        If your local starts up with that affectation now, you can blame me.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Phil Ogelos

                                                          That gag goes back to the 1950s to my certain knowledge.

                                                          1. re: hazelhurst

                                                            I drink my vodka martini's without vermouth all the time..I call it vodka on the rocks...

                                                            1. re: hazelhurst

                                                              Right, hazelhurst. The atomizers were gifty items.

                                                          2. Is it the shape of the glass?

                                                            I have read the posts here. Both vodka and gin drinkers. Many (?) do not like vermouth, although some do. Personal preference, OK.

                                                            Garnishes? Olive OR Lemon twist. Check.

                                                            Both types of folks seem to prefer a super-cold, undiluted, clear-spirit drink served in a conical stem-ed glass.

                                                            I do think the shape of the glass has something to do with it, as no mixed drink is called a "martini" when served in a straight sided vessel.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: pedalfaster

                                                              Regarding your last sentence, a martini can be served (straight) "up" in a cocktail glass or "over" (ice) in a "straight sided vessel."

                                                              Others will address your other points, I'm sure :)

                                                              1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                Actually, I tend to pour Martinis into coupes, so the glass isn't quite the issue. As a matter of history, the "martini" glass's origin is hard to pin down , but is probably from the late twenties, at which point the martini had been around for decades. Also, I don't like cold gin served straight, and believe almost all cocktails need a degree of dilution...so, no cold undiluted gin or vodka for me.

                                                                Here's the thing.., Let's say a bourbon drinker says he loves Manhattans, but only with no bitters or vermouth. Does he really like Manhattans or cold bourbon? Same with people who "love" Martinis...so long as they have no bitters or vermouth.

                                                                1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                  I've also read that vodka and gin shouldn't be stored in the freezer. That it being that cold actually tamps down the flavors.

                                                              2. Without vermouth, it's chilled gin and not a martini! If you look back at old bar guides, martinis were originally always made with gin (never vodka) and vermouth. The ratio was typically anywhere from 2:1 to 4:1. Over the years the amount of vermouth used by most bartenders has gradually decreased to where it is today…either just a whisper of vermouth to more commonly, none. To me, that's not a martini!

                                                                1. I've been drinking "Stoli martini, up, no vermouth just olive's, no olive juice" for 20+ years. I have two martini strikes 1st for vodka 2nd for no vermouth.

                                                                  Too often if I order a Stoli chilled, up with olives it comes a single shot in an un chilled rocks glass. (You would be amazed how often)

                                                                  So the only way to get a better pour in a properly chilled glass is by making it a "martini". I think the past decade since "Sex in the City" popularized the Cosmo martinis have become a bastardized drink.

                                                                  45 Replies
                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                    Why not order "Stoli on the rocks with olives"?

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      Because I don't want it on the rocks!

                                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                        What if you ordered it the way I said but added that you'd also like a cocktail glass with it?

                                                                        As an aside, we were chuckling while in NYC recently about the martinis we had a few years at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. They were up but were so huge that after about 45 minutes, I asked for a glass of ice cause I was by then drinking room temp cocktail.

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          C, what if you liked your steak well done, but I told you to eat it rare? It's all personal prefrence I've had vodka more ways than you can imagine and the way I described is how I enjoy it best.

                                                                          To humor you I will tell you a few reasons why;

                                                                          A.) I prefer drinks with ice that I'm going to "drink" and more times than not I use a straw. I don't like ice hitting my mouth or teeth when I drink, and with straight alcohol you are generally sipping more than a quick chug.

                                                                          B.) I believe the vodka gets a better chill and is more balanced with the ice/water mixed/shaken than poured over ice. On the rocks is stronger as you start sipping but quickly changes flavor as the ice melts into water and severely dilutes the last few sips of the drink.

                                                                          C.) The olives taste better when soaked in the chilled vodka instead of washed in water and ice at the end of a drink on the rocks.

                                                                          So I do hope you find my reasons to be satisfactory. I won't tell you how to eat your steak if you won't tell me how to enjoy my cocktails! Deal?

                                                                          I might have to check the Mandarin out for a super sized martini.

                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                            Sorry, jr, I meant no offense. I was trying to figure out how you could get what you want without calling it a 'martini.' Looks like JMF answered that.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              Ohhhhhhh no offense at all, my apologizes if it came across that way. I didn't want you to think I haven't tried 1000x's to get what I like. Although JMF is also correct many times the drink will come in a non-chilled rocks glass. When I return it the bartender will undoubtedly say " so you want a vodka martini"? So call it taking the path of least resistance to getting the drink I like.

                                                                              Again no offense at all, sorry.

                                                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                Oh, good. And, yeah, check out the Mandarin Oriental and report back. It's a bar off the lobby (and the lobby is way, WAY up in the building) looking out at the park.

                                                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                  I can't imagine there is a bartender alive, whether at a craft cocktail bar or the most basic beer joint, who would not know exactly what to give you if you ordered a ""Stoli martini, up, no vermouth just olive's, no olive juice". Recipe-etymological purity aside, everyone will know what that is, so good on ya.

                                                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                                                  I will have you know Monday night I met a buddy of mine at a "shot-n-beer" joint. I was already drawing unwanted attention being in a suit and tie, there was no ordering a "martini" on top of it, so I proudly ordered a Stoli on tve rocks (I even skipped my olives). I silently toasted you C & JMF, I wanted to take a picture and post it for you, but again not that kind of bar! Cheers!

                                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                    Yay for Junior!!!!! And you should have ordered the damn olives :)

                                                                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                      no martinis allowed at this genre of bar ???????

                                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                          shoot, what kind of bar is that ?

                                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                                            It was a shot-n-beer type joint. Specifically called The Walt St Pub in Red Bank Nj. Nice neighborhood type place, but not a martini bar.

                                                                                  2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                    What if I ordered Steak Diane but said I would prefer it be served with fish and no sauce? That's what I think of someone who orders a vodka martini with no vermouth. It's like someone who says, "I'd like a Mai, but with no orgeat or citrus liqueur and please sub in brandy for the rum."

                                                                                    Ummmmmm...that's not a Mai Tai, so why is a martini with just chilled vodka and a toothpick with a coupe olives a martini?

                                                                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                      I think jr's saying that the only way he dependably gets what he wants is to order it that way. Easier to take that approach.

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        Yeah, which is cool. At then end of the day, you should get what you want at a bar. Still, it should be noted, the guy does not like martinis, he likes "chilled stolli, up, with olives." Honestly, when I hear someone having such a hard time ordering such a simple beverage (which they enjoy) I think I should get back into bar tending.

                                                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                          "I've been drinking "Stoli martini, up, no vermouth just olive's, no olive juice" for 20+ years. I have two martini strikes 1st for vodka 2nd for no vermouth.

                                                                                          Too often if I order a Stoli chilled, up with olives it comes a single shot in an un chilled rocks glass. (You would be amazed how often)"

                                                                                          Again I've stated I drink Stoli chilled up, the whole point is to not get the drink in a rocks glass it's easier to call it a martini.

                                                                                          You should really read things through and not selectively.

                                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                            I read your post through quite thoroughly, which is, in part, why I said, "you should get what you want at a bar." However, I also hate the fact that you have to order a "martini" in order to get a chilled shot of vodka, up, in a cocktail glass, with some olives. It seems like you should be able to stipulate that you want a cold shot of vodka, up, in a cocktail glass, with a few olives, and not have an issue with it - as has been noted, good bartenders are becoming harder to find. Just curious, why do you care what kind of glass you are served your shot (actually, it should be closer to 2 oz.) of vodka? Why the big difference between some olives floating in a shot of chilled vodka in a rocks glass and the same thing in a "cocktail" glass?

                                                                                            1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                              BC, I don't get you saying "good bartenders are becoming harder to find." I find that the quality of bartenders is increasing. Maybe not everywhere, or all at once. But it's much better than 10-20 years ago.

                                                                                              I know in my little part of the world the quality has gone up drastically, but then, that's NYC for you.

                                                                                              But also here in the NYC burbs I am doing my part. Yes, the majority of bartenders are more or less clueless, but I trained several dozen bartenders at several bars to an extremely high level last year, and have two bar contracts so far this year, that is another dozen, and hey, it's only February.

                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                Unfortunately, I think that most younger "well trained" bartenders tend to be much more precise (meaning measured) with their pours. They may be very creative in their talents as "mixologists", but are often much less customer oriented than are the older professional bartenders who can also make the mango margarita, but will pour a hefty scotch on the rocks for the customer who wants it.

                                                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                  JMF knows far more about the whole subject than I ever will but I don't consider a "hefty" pour (without paying for it) a sign of a good bartender. And don't get me wrong, when at home, my pours are "hefty."

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    I'm happy to pay what's appropriate for any cocktail. I love a great classic martini and one of my biggest gripes is that I have to ask for vermouth to be added to the drink at many places..it seems that more and more bartenders make martinis without vermouth. Another thing I dislike is when some places use an enormous martini glass, and the drink comes only halfway up. Even though the drink may be perfectly adequate in size, IMHO it doesn't look right. I much prefer a bar where the glass is sized properly for the martini, and the drink comes to within a half inch or so of the rim. It looks better...and we all eat or drink partly with our eyes!

                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                      My perfect martini is served in a small glass with some of the drink remaining in the individual sized mixer so it stays colder.

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        Agree...but even better is when the leftover is served in a small carafe in a small ice bucket. Keeps it cold, and us diluted!

                                                                                                  2. re: josephnl

                                                                                                    A well trained bartender is first taught about hospitality. Without that all you are is a trained monkey with skills.

                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                      Since you seem to be from the greater NY City area, do you by chance know "Martini Mark"?

                                                                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                        Don't think so. I don't know anyone with a cocktail nickname.

                                                                                                          1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                                                            Uh, Duh! I'm a Moron. Thanks Alcachofa. I meant the name of an actual cocktail as a nickname.

                                                                                                            I do know King Cocktail, Drink Boy, The Libation Goddess, Dr. Cocktail, The Cocktail Guru, The Liquid Chef, The Liquid Muse, The Modern Mixologist, The Rum Ambassador, Rum Boy, Rum Dood, Professor Cocktail, Beachbum Berry/Professor Tiki, Dr. Bamboo, Colonel Tiki, Miss Charming, Trader Tiki who can't legally use that name after Trader Vic's brought up a suit, Mr. and Mrs. Cocktail, and a few others.

                                                                                                            Damn! I do know a lot of folks in the booze/cocktail industry with nicknames.

                                                                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                          jr, it took a bit of googling and then I found "martini mark" a nj 'burbs bartender who works in a "martini bar". He's about 12-15 years behind what cocktails and bartending are today. I applaud that he is trying to make cocktails using interesting ingredients, but seeing the recipes, and venues, brings to mind why cocktails are so much better today than a dozen years ago. I felt a bit queasy with the ingredient list in some of those cocktails he makes. I wouldn't be surprised that if you ordered a martini from him, you would get vodka, shaken, no vermouth, no bitters, served up, in a 15 oz. glass.

                                                                                                          That type of bartending is why I am consulting like crazy to bring high quality cocktails to the 'burbs, bringing them up to speed with Metropolitan areas.

                                                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                                                            I would have included a link to his facebook page if you requested. I didn't mean to send you on a goose chase, I just know the guy......listened to his endless self promotion and didn't know if the two of you crossed path's. The only "cool" thing I've really seen from him is the edible hibiscus flower he uses in some drinks.

                                                                                                            Again I'm just a straight Vodka guy so much of this is lost on me. Just give me my dam martini glass, chilled and I'm fine!

                                                                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                              Those edible hibsicus flowers were pretty cool when they hit the market... a dozen years ago. But they actually don't taste that great, or even look that great, when you compare to some of the really interesting garnishes one can get, or preferably make, nowadays.

                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                A rather bizarre creation he was working on was a "caviar" for certain drinks. It was a solution that was placed into syringes, which were placed into another clear liquid, and when pressure was applied to the plunger of the syringes they would drop a small round pellet into the clear liquid. (There was a whole holding contraption with about 2 dozen syringes in it). After a few seconds they developed a bit of a shell and thus was the "caviar" for his drinks.

                                                                                                                I tried the caviar and personally didn't find them particularly tasty, plus I reminded him most of these novelty drinks he develops are geared towards women. I'm not sure how many women are looking to having a drink that is going to be "squirting" in their mouth while they drink it! Don't know if that concept ever took off.

                                                                                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                  "squirting" in their mouth "----

                                                                                                                  That just sounds real dirty. :)

                                                                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                    That 'caviar' is made through a molecular/modernist technique called spherification, using various hydrocolloids and salt solutions.

                                                                                                                    It is a valid technique, that was big around 5-10 years ago. It tends to be used more with the nouveau and modernist cocktails.

                                                                                                                    Fun to make, and when well made they have lots of flavor, and add something to the cocktail or food. But when made just for the concept, the were overplayed and died out quite a bit.

                                                                                                                    My first try making them was with a raspberry dessert wine. Very intense flavor. Then a teaspoon full was put into a champagne flute and topped with an apricot sparkling wine. The beads floated up and down and when you took a sip you first had apricot wine, then as the beads in your mouth burst it turned to raspberry. Fun.

                                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                      Yeah it was probably 5+- years ago that story took place.

                                                                                                      2. re: JMF

                                                                                                        You've got a point JMF, and I think I over-generalized. The fact that this thread was about how hard it is to find a bartender who makes a decent martini probably played too much of a role in my comment. There will probably always be many more bad bartenders than good bartenders, but the revived interest in cocktails over the last 6-8 years and renewed interest in high quality spirits has undoubtedly increased the odds of finding good bar programs and knowledgeable and skilled bartenders, certainly in DC and no doubt nation-wide as well.

                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                          JMF, I'm starting a thread on the NY State board on places with good cocktails in Westchester. I'd love your input, especially on places where you've trained the bartenders.

                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966628

                                                                                                        2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                          80% of establishments keep their martini glasses chilled, the other 20% chill them while making the drink.

                                                                                                          0% pre-chill any form of rocks glasses. Even if you were to chill the glass while making the cocktail a rock glass is generally thicker and doesn't hold the chill as well.

                                                                                                          Again just chalk it up to my preference.

                                                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                            At two of the bars I consulted to last Spring 2013 and one in Nov./Dec. 2013, I had them chill their double old fashioned glasses, as well as cocktail glasses.

                                                                                                            Just a side note: Chilling a cocktail glass to order, by filling it with ice and ice/water is mostly just for show. With even a thin, quality cocktail glass, it takes a minimum of four minutes to drop the temp. of the glass all the way through. Any less and while it looks cold, and feels cold for a second or two, the internal mass isn't actually cold.

                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                              Good info re last minute chilling. Something I'd not have known about.

                                                                                                            2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                              Most of the quality bars in Boston that I go to pre-chill their martini, coupes, and rocks glasses. I also agree that bartending quality has increased in recent years. As to the argument in this thread, however, I think however jrvedivici needs to order his drink to get what he wants may be a bastardization of nomenclature, but if it has the desired result it harbors no issue with me.

                                                                                          2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                            jr- What you are actually ordering is a Stoli, shaken, up, olives. Basically a cold, watered down vodka with olives.

                                                                                            Martinis were "bastardized" in the 90's. The 2000's and 2010's are the Cocktail Renaissance and quality cocktails are the norm in good places in the major cities, and spreading rapidly.

                                                                                          3. Well, then it's just either Gin or Vodka in a martini glass with olives, right ?????

                                                                                            They definitely put the vermouth in there at the MF Grill as well as at Tana's.

                                                                                            1. Reminds me of a quip from an old math teacher in college he said when we were learning about optimization of functions and asymptotics: There is no such thing as an "optimal" martini.

                                                                                              23 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: MagicMarkR

                                                                                                Actually when it comes to food, "optimal" seems to me a matter of taste. When it comes to the definition of "classic", one can be somewhat more objective. Anyone who makes the effort to research the history of the "classic martini" will discover that the drink was originally pretty much always made with gin and dry vermouth in varying proportions…but with vermouth always being a significant part of the drink. Most of the older recipes insist that the garnish should be an olive. Over the years, the definition has widened to include vodka rather than gin, a twist rather than an olive, less and less vermouth, and nowadays essentially any spirit and or juice, can be included…the the pear martini, the pomegranate martini…even the bacon martini…ugh!!! Give me Bombay Sapphire gin, with a good splash of Noilly Prat dry vermouth, icy cold and topped off with an olive on a toothpick (rinsed off, please)…and I'm a happy camper.

                                                                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                  josephnl, you history is a bit off.

                                                                                                  The martini originated somewhere in the 1850-70's. The first version was called the Martinez, and the drink was first made with equal parts of gin and sweet vermouth, plus bitters.

                                                                                                  Then around 1870-1900 the 'dry' martini came in vogue, which was equal parts gin and dry vermouth, with orange bitters and a lemon peel garnish. Throughout the 1900's less and less dry vermouth was used, in the 1940-50's getting into silly proportions like 1:32 of gin:vermouth. The complete absence of vermouth started back then, but became popular with the vodka martini in the 80-90's.

                                                                                                  Vodka first introduction to the US was basically in the 1940's with Smirnoff, and became popular in the late 1960's and in I think 1971 took over as the most popular spirit in the US. The vodka martini, which had the original name of the Kangaroo, first became really popular in the 1970-80's. This was part of the whole 60-70's rebellion against mainstream ideals and thinking that cocktails were for old 'establishment' folks.

                                                                                                  Then around 2000 with the start of the cocktail renaissance the amount of vermouth started to increase again and now is at around 1:3 gin:vermouth, give or take a bit.

                                                                                                  The original garnish was a lemon peel. Olives became popular around Prohibition, although it wasn't rare for them to be a garnish before then. Even in the late 1800's.

                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                    Thanks for your erudite and, I'm sure, authoritative history lesson. I'm sure you are correct in everything, but that the amount of vermouth is now increasing to about a 1:3, gin:vermouth ratio!! I don't know where you are drinking, but in most bars or restaurants where we live in southern California you have to specifically ask for vermouth...otherwise either none, or perhaps a whisper is used. Thanks for clarifying the history!

                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                      I speak about high end cocktail bars on the East Coast, especially NYC and Boston, and on the west coast in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and in major cities across the country that have jumped on the quality cocktail bandwagon the past few years.

                                                                                                    2. re: JMF

                                                                                                      JMF, do you have firm knowledge about when, and perhaps why, the olive came into the picture? I've read Wondrich's "Imbibe", and Lowell Edmunds' "Martini, Straight Up", as well as a good dozen other booze history books, and I don't recall any of them being able to nail down a precise time when the olive entered the drink, other than saying it was likely sometime in the '20s or '30s. Given the fact that no other classic drink calls for an olive garnish (and that, at least IMO, it tastes awful with gin and vermouth), it's always seemed odd that an olive should have found it's way into the martini.

                                                                                                      1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                        I think that a pimento stuffed green olive tastes great with gin and vermouth...definitely not so for a blue cheese stuffed olive which is becoming trendy in southern CA.

                                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                          Weird, that was a thing in Atlanta back in the late '90s when I used to bartend down there. Those were dark days for mixing drinks. Of course I was 22 and didn't know any better, but looking back, it was a lot super sweet shooters and if you so much as touched a bottle of vermouth you'd get some pretty evil looks, at least at the places I worked at...oh, and everyone wanted their martinis dirty. It's amazing we had enough olive brine to go around at some of the brunch shifts I worked! After getting out of bartending around 2000, it's perhaps unsurprising that it took me nearly ten years to discover the joy of properly made cocktails.

                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                            but then again those bleu cheese stuff olives are for Vodka-based martinis.

                                                                                                            but also then again i don't really consider those martinis to begin with in my humblest of humble opinions.

                                                                                                            btw, you picking up the tabs for the martinis ?

                                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                                              I don't think that bleu cheese stuffed olives go well with any alcoholic beverage. I wouldn't mind a few atop a wedge salad, but not with a martini.

                                                                                                          2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                            I have no idea about the exact dates of the olive. Just what I have read in old books, and in discussions with friends like Dave Wondrich and Ted Haigh. But, next time I chat with Ted I'll bring up olives again.

                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                              Jus to add to the fun, you can get into the question of vermouth. In the Days of the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, almost all New York (well, Manhattan) marinis were Beefester, very dry, often on-the-rocks (the "V" glass was thought sloppy even if it looked good). Olives seemed to me to be more prevalent but it was hard to get a proper twist outside someplace like the Union League Club. Bitters were not allowed--that tended towards a Pink Gin, which is a fine drink in itself. Somewhere in the mid-1960s, my father and his associates began complaining that Noilly-Prat (which seemed to be the ONLY vermouth permitted even though Martini & Rossi was around) had changed its formula. And I did read years later that in fact NP had lightened the vermouth and taken color out of it. It was quite The Topic on the New York, New Haven & HArtford. And the "no vermouth" martini was a standing joke in the 1950s/1960s. See the American National Standards Institute ""Standard American Dry Martini" manual in which one fabrication allows for shining a light through the vermouth bottle and onto("into") the gin. there's a nifty drawing so that you can build one yourself.

                                                                                                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                                                One of the issues with the bitters is that post-Prohibition, orange bitters basically disappeared in the US. Angostura bitters were about all you could find and they have no place in a Martini. It really wasn't until the 21st century (and particularly the last 4-5 years) that they were able to be commonly found, if not in a liquor store, then online.

                                                                                                                I might be wrong, but I think the Martini on the rocks was still a quite popular way of ordering the drink well into the '80s.

                                                                                                                1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                  I have heard of putting all sorts of masking agents into bathtub gin and it would not surprise me if people were adding "foreign substances" in the 1920s although it is certainly my impression that the basic, two component gin/vermouth-martini was the standard by the 1930s. We had Peychaud bitters in New Orleans fairly consistently and I used to put it in my Gin & Tonics back in the 1970s. I experimented with it in martinis about the same time and decided I like it although it changed the drink's name in my view. I agree Angostura does not work, to the chagrin of the Wizard of Oz, who owned the company. I knew people making their own bitters back at least forty years ago but there were not that many, I will admit. Some used to bring various types back from the Carribean after sailing around down there. The main "special import" (smuggling) it seemed to me was rum.

                                                                                                                2. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                                                  My Dad is 82, and as far back as i remember, (early 70's) he ordered beefeater martinis on the rocks with a twist, and still does.

                                                                                                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                    My father, were he alive, would be 98 and would gladly counsel n converse with your father. Cheers!

                                                                                                          3. re: josephnl

                                                                                                            "Give me Bombay Sapphire gin, with a good splash of Noilly Prat dry vermouth, icy cold and topped off with an olive on a toothpick (rinsed off, please)…and I'm a happy camper."

                                                                                                            that's exactly my kind of martini, would the ratio by like 5 to 1, in favor of the gin ???????????

                                                                                                            thanks man.

                                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                                              You can make me a martini any time...or be my guest!

                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                Be your guest ?

                                                                                                                You making or buying ?

                                                                                                                Thanks.

                                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                  Let me help you guys settle this, Jose you make, Kevin you buy and I will drink! Thanks Guys!

                                                                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                    If you guys want to meet for martinis is southern CA (OC preferred) the first rounds will be on me!

                                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                      Ok sounds great Joseph.

                                                                                                                      My email is up there under the screen handle.

                                                                                                                      1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                        My email is on my profile as well. Have the airline e-ticket (round trip of course) sent to that email and I will see you soon! Thanks Joe! You're the best!

                                                                                                              2. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                It was a math-related joke playing up the commonly promulgated perception that the drier the martini (the lower the ratio of vermouth to gin) the better. Under that perception, the "optimum" is the limit where the ratio approaches and reaches zero. But of course, with zero vermouth, you no longer have a martini. Thus the joke. (Obviously,a true "optimum" is a matter of personal taste.)

                                                                                                            2. When I order a martini, as I do fairly frequently, I usually say "Gin, up, five to one (or sometimes three to one)" and see what happens. At the Redwood in DTLA (now mostly hipsters) we were in a booth across from the door into the bar, and after our waiter had gone in there we heard a chorus of "FIVE to ONE??" and several staring faces appeared in the doorway. But they did it pretty well.

                                                                                                              The peak of the no-vermouth crap was I think the '80s. One of our favorite small bars had a very good but very young bartender, I think on his first fulltime gig, but he'd been taught the swish-and-toss treatment of the vermouth. When I told him very seriously that I expected the vermouth to be an actual ingredient, not some fond memory, he gave me a look of horror. So I quoted the late, great bon vivant Lucius Beebe to him: "Anything drier than five to one is just iced gin!" He made it to spec, but with the air of a vegan chef barbecuing a whole pig.

                                                                                                              Most of the bars here in Pasadena, at least the ones we like, have no problem with anyone's martini recipe, and in general I'm finding it easier to get a good one than I did thirty years ago.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                The peak of the no-vermouth crap was I think the '80s. One of our favorite small bars had a very good but very young bartender, I think on his first fulltime gig, but he'd been taught the swish-and-toss treatment of the vermouth. When I told him very seriously that I expected the vermouth to be an actual ingredient, not some fond memory, he gave me a look of horror. So I quoted the late, great bon vivant Lucius Beebe to him: "Anything drier than five to one is just iced gin!" He made it to spec, but with the air of a Catholic doctor forced to perform an abortion.

                                                                                                                --------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                                                                                Great story will.

                                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                  We thought the kid was gonna cry. He was a gifted bartender, though, and afterwards always made mine exactly as I wanted it without my asking.

                                                                                                                2. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                  An aside, but what are your favorite bars in the Pasadena area?

                                                                                                                3. Don't any of these idiot bartenders ask how you would like it?

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: kwhitney

                                                                                                                    !!! I asked a restaurant owner last night what a customer gets if they order a martini. He said they get questions :)

                                                                                                                  2. I've almost given up on ordering martinis at restaurants. I've ordered them with a twist and received them with both a twist and olives, and with olives and no twist. I've given up on ever getting one with vermouth in it at all restaurants but a small handful of trendy places that have excellent cocktail programs. Most recently, I was at a fairly nice Italian restaurant. I ordered a martini with a twist, specifying Bombay Dry gin, and requesting that it be up. That last bit is something I rarely do (every restaurant I've ever been in serves martinis in a "martini glass" without question), but something told me to specify that it be served up. I was brought Bombay Sapphire on the rocks in a rocks glass with a lemon wedge.

                                                                                                                    1. Thinking of you all at a happening Brooklyn restaurant this week: I order a Martini, not too dry. Bartender tells me he never puts vermouth in his Martinis. I say, please, definitely vermouth in the Martini. Bartender says stonily, I don't put vermouth in my Martinis. He put it in but it wasn't very good anyway. House cocktail wasn't so hot either. Food was great, though.

                                                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                                        It continues to astonish me how common it is to have great food, a great wine list, interesting beers, and crap cocktails.

                                                                                                                        The irony is that it is far easier to make great cocktails than great food.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                                          "Bartender says stonily, I don't put vermouth in my Martinis."

                                                                                                                          Fuck you, customer. Proper reply? "I don't tip asshat bartenders."

                                                                                                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                                                            I once had a bartender hand me the bottle of vermouth (was sweet for a Manhattan) because he would not personally add more than a dash to the drink. But he would let me making such a sin with mine...

                                                                                                                            http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com

                                                                                                                          2. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                                            Can you mention the name of the restaurant?

                                                                                                                              1. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                                                Thanks. That's very interesting. I know the Vanderbilt and they used to have some decent bartenders, but they also had some total hipster tools. I guess you got one of the latter. While I've been there several times for business, it's never been a place I would actually choose to go.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                  True. Food is very nice but not my kinda place.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                    Interesting. My impression of the typical (or stereotypical) "hipster" is that they are more interested in historic authenticity and classic/antiquated techniques and ingredients with regard to food and spirits than the average person their age. I would be less surprised if a hipster refused to NOT put vermouth in a Martini (and perhaps also orange bitters) and insisted on whatever ratio they believed to be the historically proper ratio.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: curseofleisure

                                                                                                                                      That was before being a hipster became hip...

                                                                                                                              2. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                                                What a douche!

                                                                                                                                Though not exactly the case here, I do think that the martini has been the hardest classic cocktail to "reform."

                                                                                                                                Even in places that have pretty solid bar programs (sounds like the place you refer to doesn't), the martini is the most likely classic that will have a completely screwed up house recipe.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                  I think because some believe it too be too "simple" a drink, hence the need to add their unique or not so unique (read: violations) of a classic.

                                                                                                                                  Whereas mixology drinks include fresh squeezed juices, coriander dust, etc.

                                                                                                                                  A martini may be a simple drink but it's definitely not easy.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                    I can't think of any drink for which people are so dogmatic about their personal recipe being correct.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Up With Olives

                                                                                                                                  He expects people to tip him for pouring gin into a glass?

                                                                                                                                3. We were eating at a bar last night and talking with the bartender. I asked her about the martini issue. She said a martini is gin and has vermouth in it. If someone orders a martini, she will ask if they want gin or vodka but draws the line there. If she starts making it and the customer says 'wait, wait, I don't want vermouth in it,' then she says 'oh, you don't want a martini then, you want cold gin/vodka.' This woman is certainly well under 40 and this bar is nothing special. But SHE knows what's what.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                    Now if she only realized that orange bitters are the necessary third ingredient...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                      I'll mention that to her next time. I only learned it here :)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                        i like it with the bitters when i have a twist, but on the occasions that i use olives as a garnish, i leave it out

                                                                                                                                    2. I agree with all of this and I'm sure I would be disappointed more often if I ordered a "Martini" and nothing else. However, the Martini (owing to it's long-history and changing ratios) is probably the only cocktail that I can order precisely and not come off as a control freak. I find that being specific about how you like your Martini is almost expected, so for me to say "Beefeater Martini, 3 to 1, stirred, up with a twist" seems normal while saying, "Rittenhouse Rye old-fashioned, teaspoon simple syrup, 4 dashes angostura, stirred on the rocks with a lemon twist" makes me sound like a control freak.

                                                                                                                                      That said, the real X factor in determining whether or not I'll order a martini is spotting decent/fresh vermouth. If a place uses Dolin for example, chances are it's going to be fresh, because they wouldn't spend the extra cash if they or their customers didn't care. Noilly Prat indicates they care a little, but it can still be a gamble. M&R is fine, but in my experience, rarely is it going to be fresh unless you see the place cranking out Martinis.

                                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                                                        Is it OT to ask how long a bottle of vermouth is 'drinkable' after it's open?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                          Not at all. Drinkable and fresh are two different things though. Personally, assuming it is kept refrigerated, I'd say dry vermouth is fresh for a month and sweet vermouth fresh for 3 months. This is a pretty big window for a bar, but perhaps harder for those of us at home depending on your consumption habits (this is why half bottles of vermouth are the way to go at home).

                                                                                                                                          That said, if you can see that a bar refrigerates their open vermouth, chances are it's safe to order a martini.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                            Vermouth open at room temp., 1-2 weeks max. before it starts to heavily oxidize, but you can taste a difference within a half hour if you really focus. Chilled (and only refilling a smaller bottle that stays at room temp.), 3+ months, especially if you put into a smaller bottle so there is no air. Or use a wine gas preservative after every pour, and keep chilled, and I've had them stay good for over a year.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                              Interestingly enough, I have some detailed notes I made about a year ago comparing a six-month old bottle of Dolin Dry with a freshly opened bottle :) The old bottle had been refrigerated and vacu-sealed after each use, though never decanted to a smaller glass or sealed using gas preservative.

                                                                                                                                              Appearance is the same, completely clear, and a swirl in a Glencairn produces the same results, basically no ring and a lot of tiny clinging droplets. The new vermouth has a crisp, sweet, floral and herbal nose with hints of light thyme, fresh turmeric, a touch of allspice, some lavender, honeysuckle and muscat wine. Taste is light, crisp and very clean. The best description would be a decent dessert wine, sweetened, with a noticeably boozier kick to the flavor profile. Finish is short, clean, and mildly dry with lingering sweet honeysuckle, pear, fresh thyme, and general floral notes. It’s quite good and would be excellent served chilled, over ice, or on the rocks with a bit of soda and twist of orange or lemon, in order to convert a Vermouth hater.

                                                                                                                                              The six month old has a noticeably weaker nose, with some slightly stale and musty odors and perhaps just a slight metallic note. That said, there is a strong underlying similarity in terms of the base wine and the overall herbal impression. Furthermore, there are no “off” odors, like vinegar, screaming out from the glass, nor are the "stale" notes terribly strong or dominant. The nose on the six-month old is by no means an unpleasant aroma; really, it’s basically just weaker, less dynamic, slightly staler, and as such, a tad less good...though still quite good. The taste is somewhat similar. There are no off notes of vinegar or anything truly repulsive. The biggest difference is that there is no real depth of flavor, the sweetness is stronger and more generalized, and the whole thing feels a bit flabby. The finish is not as dry, the alcohol notes rougher, and the sweetness stronger and less complex and refined. All that said, it’s not bad, and IMO it could certainly be used in a cocktail without any real damage. Would the fresher Dolin be a step up? Sure, certainly for some cocktails. I made a round of martinis (2.5 oz of gin to .75 oz vermouth) a few weeks back using the old Dolin and they were fine. I do think the more pronounced and unrefined sweetness made a slight difference, but it was a real measure of degrees, and overall, they were still damn fine martinis that got very good reviews from my guest whose favorite drink is a martini.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                Whenever a recipe calls for a dry white wine or to deglaze, etc. I always use dry vermouth, Dolin lately. So, it never gets a chance to get old that way.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                                  Troy, that's a really good idea. I always have white wine on hand so rarely sub vermouth. But for a recipe where that small amount of wine isn't crucial to the taste of the finished dish I think I'm going to do that. Thanks a bunch.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for a very thorough observation! I have the fortune of a martini drinking spouse, so our bottles of vermouth last about 2 weeks.
                                                                                                                                                  Long live the martini!!

                                                                                                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                I found a really old (> 6 months) half empty bottle of NP sweet vermouth at the back of my fridge, and was about to dump it - but decided to try it out, and it was still somewhat drinkable. There were definitely some minor off flavors but I made a Manattan with some Old Forester 100 proof I wanted to get rid of, and it tasted decent enough to make me happy I didn't drainpour it.

                                                                                                                                            2. As a long-time drinker of martinis (approximately 40 years), I have always argued that a good martini was made with Engish gin and French vermouth. With the unfortunate trend of "flavored martinis" I would not order a martini in a restaurant for years. Just because it was in a martini (cocktail) glass did not make it a martini. We would never pour beer into a champagne flute and call it champagne.
                                                                                                                                              But I digress.
                                                                                                                                              Over the years into the 70s and 80s, I tended to drink very dry martinis usually 15 or 20:1. Burnett's was very inexpensive, and was my main stay for years and years. I then found Boodle's gin which is probably my favorite gin to make a martini. I have always enjoyed Beefeater's and recently tried Beefeater's 24 , which I find makes a wonderful martini mixed with Dolins vermouth.
                                                                                                                                              I miss the days when you could order a martini in any good bar and be served proper martini. Although mixology is improving, we have not yet come full circle. If I am going to drink a martini, I will order it at the bar and chat up the barkeep first before giving my recipe for my martini (I don't like to come off as arrogant or bossy). I currently use 3 jiggers gin and 1 ounce of vermouth for a 4.5:1 , ratio.
                                                                                                                                              The issue that I continue to find is the limited selection of gins in most bars. It is an exceptional bar that has more than 3 choices of gin. And these usually include Gordon's, Beefeater and Tanqueray. Bombay Sapphire is often available. For some reason high end product is unusual in bars I have been in recently. I guess we just need more martini drinkers!
                                                                                                                                              Although I have had martinis on the rocks, and up, olives and lemon twist, I prefer up with olives.
                                                                                                                                              I am currently working my way through some of the new American gins. I really have not found one yet that I feel makes a proper martini but I am open to suggestions. Thanks!!
                                                                                                                                              PS: I always use half bottles of vermouth and if one ever gets to be 30 days old (rare) I pitch it.

                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: smk54

                                                                                                                                                I like a martini made with 2.5 oz. Tuthilltown Half Moon gin, 1 oz. Dolin dry, 1-2 dashes Angostura orange bitters, stirred and served up, with a lemon twist.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                  Not seen this one yet, but will be on the lookout for it. I have the good fortune to be near The Party Source in northern Kentucky which has a remarkable variety of gins and I will look for it. They probably have 50 different gins.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                    PS: 2.5:1 ratio makes a wonderful martini! A dash of bitters is always a nice touch. Although is that still a martini by strict definition? Keep in mind I consider a martini in it's strictest definition. IE gin & dry vermouth.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: smk54

                                                                                                                                                      The strictest definition of a martini is gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters. That's if you are into historically accurate definitions.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: smk54

                                                                                                                                                    Have you tried any of the St. George gins? I am sure they would make an interesting martini.

                                                                                                                                                    http://www.stgeorgespirits.com/

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: JonDough

                                                                                                                                                      See above. I have not tried St. George. Where is it from? Can you compare it to any other gin?