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Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

Greetings!

When you go into a bar and order a cocktail, do you have a general preference as to whether the bartender uses the free pour method or the jigger method when measuring the amount of alcohol for your cocktail?

I’m a martini drinker who prefers the free pour method. I live in a neighborhood that has about 40 bars within a 2 mile radius from where I live. I have been to most of them at least once, and the vast majority of their bartenders use the free pour method.

This is the norm in my area. In addition, I always walk to these bars to get there. This is one of my rules. If I want a martini, I have to walk to get it.

Some of our local bartenders perform their free pours with a lot of artistry and flair, which can be sheer poetry in motion to watch. It is my impression that the more experienced bartenders in my neighborhood use the free pour method.

I understand the rationale about measurement consistency when bartenders use the jigger method. But it is not as fun to watch. When I order a martini and see a bartender using the jigger method, it is like the bartender is saying to me: “I want to make sure that I don’t give you too much alcohol.” It strikes me as somewhat anal and is kind of a downer. But I also realize that these bartenders may be following the instructions of their managers.

It has also been my experience that, more often than not, I usually receive a stronger martini, when a bartender uses the free pour method. This has been the case the vast majority of the time. There have been a few exceptions, such as the bartender I had a few weeks agpo who only used a two second count for my martinis. In contrast, I have seen some bartenders use at least a five second count.

I might add that the longer the pour count, and the stronger my martini, the greater is my tip. Sometimes I tip as high as 50%.

There is one bar in my neighborhood that used to employ the free pour method. Their martinis were nice and strong. But during my last two visits, their bartenders have suddenly switched to the jigger method. As a result, these martinis have not been nearly as strong.

Could this be a red flag that they may be having financial problems and that their bartenders have been instructed to cut back on the alcohol? If this is the case, I see this as counter-productive. Their volume of customers has also declined lately.

There is another bar right across the street from this one whose martinis, prepared with the free pour method, are much stronger. In fact, one of their martinis, prepared with the free pour method, gives me a greater buzz than the three martinis I had during my last visit to the bar that has just switched to the jigger method.

What’s up with that? In such a market, with so many bars packed so closely together in walking distance from each other, I would think that this bar would want their martinis to be at least somewhat competitive with the others. It is like they are self-destructing.

In case you’re curious, I live in what is known as the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia, which is also located in walking distance from downtown. I might add that Norfolk was ranked last year as the second drunkest city in America by the Daily Beast.

I welcome any and all comments in regard to the above.

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  1. So when you have a stronger or weaker Martini, does the amount of vermouth remain the same?

    2 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      It varies. I really don't like the taste of vermouth. Therefore, I usually ask for my martinis to be prepared extra dry. If I can taste the vermouth, then it is too much. Sometimes I even ask for no vermouth. The biggest factors in the strength of my martinis seem to be volume of the alcohol, whether measured by a pour count or a jigger, and sometimes the size of the martini glass.

      1. re: PontiusPalate

        Ah, so you just want cold gin and plenty of it :) Then I'd guess the "free pour" is your friend! I don't pay attention to that but I do know that a glass of wine will be the same from glass to glass. Not necessarily from place to place but a bigger pour is sometimes because the price is higher.

    2. I think that you like the free pour because you really just want gin and more gin versus less

      A proper cocktail should be measured with a jigger.

      If I am at a bar the free pours I know the drinks will not be quality and will switch my drink selection accordingly to something that cannot be messed up - like gin and club soda

      In that case a free pour is fine but I have little to no expectation

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dapuma

        Hi Dapuma,

        Perhaps, I should have qualified my discussion as applying to martinis only.

        Living in an area in which there are about 40 bars within a two mile walking distance, I have only seen one of them prepare their drinks with a jigger. This is the one I mentioned in my original post above.

        Maybe this is a regional thing. The free pour method is the overwhelming norm in my area.

        At my favorite restaurant and bar, the bartender has previous experience in bars in both New York City and Miami. She is the best bartender I have seen in my area, and we were very fortunate to get her. Watching her mix drinks is true poetry in motion, and I have never seen her use a jigger.

        Just saying.

        PP

      2. I understand your general, overall point, but several specific things don't make sense to me (or, at least, leave me somewhat confused or with questions) . . . .

        1) The obvious: >>> If I want a martini, I have to walk to get it. <<<

        You never make one at home?

        2) The *other* obvious: >>> When I order a martini and see a bartender using the jigger method, it is like the bartender is saying to me: “I want to make sure that I don’t give you too much alcohol.” It strikes me as somewhat anal and is kind of a downer. But I also realize that these bartenders may be following the instructions of their managers. <<<

        This strikes me as silly. I personally know several bartenders and am acquainted with many more. The VOLUNTARY use of measuring devices (be they jiggers, measuring spoons, graduated cylinders, whatever) typically have to do with how complex the drink is, OR how precise the bartender wants his/her drinks to be. The greater number of ingredients, the more crucial the balance between is, and thus the more likely one is to use measuring devices. More simple drinks, like a straight shot or a Martini, the more likely it is to be a free pour.

        ---> as an aside, I have had OUTSTANDING cocktails made using BOTH methods.

        That said, NOTHING in a bar or restaurant is more profitable than distilled spirits (though, depending upon the establishment and the beer, draught beer may be #1). Let's just leave it at "the markup is huge." But often what you are referring to as "the jigger method" is something imposed not by managers but by owners seeking to maximize profits. Think, for example, of the bars in Las Vegas or elsewhere where the "house" spirits are shot through a gun like cola, soda, tonic, etc., and automatically "shut off" after a certain volume is dispensed.

        4) An observation (as, obviously, I wasn't there): >>> There have been a few exceptions, such as the bartender I had a few weeks ago who only used a two second count for my martinis. In contrast, I have seen some bartenders use at least a five second count. <<<

        When learning their craft, one of the "tricks" often employed is to mentally count as one is pouring a shot. Thus, one gets to the point where an accurate (in terms of volume) shot can be pours using a ___-count. The timing will, naturally, vary depending upon whether or not a pourer has been inserted into the neck of the bottle or not, let alone the type of pourer, etc.

        5) A second observation: >>> I might add that the longer the pour count, and the stronger my martini, the greater is my tip. Sometimes I tip as high as 50%. <<<

        So, in other words, you want lots of gin, and you are rewarding the bartender for "stealing" from his/her employer by pouring you more than a shot (double? triple?) but only pouring for one.

        ---> I'm curious: why don't you order straight gin?

        ---> I'm even more curious: why don't you just pour yourself straight gin at home? Not only can you drink all the gin you want, but you won't risk getting popped for being "Drunk in Public" (e.g.: §647(f) California Penal Code).

        6) Yet another observation: >>> I live in what is known as the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, Virginia, which is also located in walking distance from downtown. I might add that Norfolk was ranked last year as the second drunkest city in America by the Daily Beast. <<<

        Why am I not surprised. ;^)

        /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

        OK, enough fun and games.

        I don't often go out to drink, but I frequently go out to dinner where I will often have a cocktail and/or a glass/bottle of wine, etc. (The difference is that I rarely go out to a bar, have one, two, three cocktails and then walk/drive home.) There are certainly times when I have gone to (for lack of a better term) a "craft" bar -- one specializing in great, innovative cocktails, as opposed to the "corner bar" -- before continuing on to dinner, but a bar is rarely the prime destination in and of itself.

        But for me it's all about quality, not quantity, and it's *never* about getting loaded, drunk, inebriated, or intoxicated.

        Serious answer: I honestly don't care if the bartender is free pouring or measuring when I'm having a cocktail. What I *do* care about is the quality of what's in my glass, and as long as the drink is excellent, what does it matter?

        1 Reply
        1. re: zin1953

          Hello zin1953:

          Many thanks for your comments and feedback. I will try to address some of your points below:

          First, I never make a martini at home because I never drink at home. I live alone and I do not drink alone. I only drink in the company of others at a good bar/restaurant or in somebody else's home.

          Second, I understand your point in regard to the desirability of jiggers and similar measurement devices for more complex drinks with a greater number of ingredients, in which a higher degree of precision and balance is more crucial.

          Perhaps, I should have qualified this discussion as applying to martinis only. I rarely order such "complex" drinks and pretty much stick to my favorite martini instead, which is a Hendricks Gin Martini, up and very dry, with a cucumber slice on the rim.

          Next, I am not so sure that I am encouraging the bartender to "steal" from his or her employer by pouring me an extra shot or two with my generous tips. At my favorite local bar and restaurant, which is located only a five minute walk away from my home, the manager is very often sitting at the bar and watching the bartender prepare my martinis. Sometimes he will even buy me one.

          I guess I could just order "straight gin." But there is something about the visual appeal and mystique of a drink prepared in martini glass that draws me to ordering them.

          Finally, if Norfolk is ranked #2, then I guess we will just have to try harder. :)

          Seriously speaking, I only drink when eating out for my evening dinner meal. To me, the quality of the food comes first. A restaurant that serves strong drinks and crappy food is still a crappy restaurant. I like to eat at the best restaurants in my area, where the food is consistently excellent and the martinis are consistently and pleasantly strong. I agree with you that quality comes first.

          At my top two favorite restaurants, I always have a decent buzz by the end of my first martini. There are times when I don't even want a third martini. On these occasions, the second one took care of me just fine, and a third one would only amount to "diminishing returns."

          If I don't have a buzz by the middle of my second martini, however, then something is wrong, which is usually a quick or brief pour count in my area.

          At the restaurant I complained about in my original post, I barely had a buzz at all by the end of my third martini. This is the one where the bartender used the jigger method.

          This was the only restaurant I have been to this year in which the jigger method was used to prepare my martinis. And I am still wondering why this restaurant suddenly decided to switch from the free pour method to the jigger method when making martinis. As a result, their martinis are nowhere as strong as they were before.

          This restaurant faces stiff competition from the one located right across the street, where their martinis are prepared with the free pour method and are at least twice as strong. Just saying.

          By the way, I always eat at the bar when I eat out. I always get better service this way, and I have a greater opportunity to socialize with my fellow bar patrons. Once again, I never drink home alone.

          Thanks again for your comments!

          PP

        2. Sounds like you like a strong drink so you can get drunk fast. Not a well made, consistent, and well balanced drink.

          I on the other hand like excellently made cocktails that I can appreciate and enjoy. Not huge amounts of cheap booze.

          16 Replies
          1. re: JMF

            Hello JMF,

            You are right on one point. I do like a strong drink. But I do not like to "get drunk fast."

            Instead, I like to sip my martinis slowly. The slower, the better. I always order mine with my dinner meal. I like one before my entree, or during my appetizer if I am having one, and another one during my entree.

            Sometimes I will order a third if I am enjoying the company at the bar. If something on the dessert menu sounds good, I will often order a Manhattan instead. The best Manhattans I have been served in my area have also been prepared with the "free pour" method.

            My usual martini is a Hendricks Gin martini, prepared up and very dry, with a cucumber slice on the rim instead of muddled. Hendricks Gin is not exactly what I would call "cheap booze."

            Last week I went to a different bar and ordered a Hendricks Gin martini as described above. However, the bartender informed me they had no cucumbers in stock. So, he offered to make me one with St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur. It was okay, but a little too sweet for my taste.

            I usually spread out my consumption of my three martinis, or my two martinis and one Manhattan, over about a time period of an hour and a half. Then I leave and walk home.

            .

            1. re: PontiusPalate

              How many oz. of gin would you say are in this "martini"?

              1. re: JMF

                JMF,

                I can't answer for sure.

                All I know is that my favorite bartenders fill my standard conical or coupe Martini glass as close to the rim as possible without it spilling over the edge.

                But I don't mind about a quarter of an inch of space between the top surface of the drink and the rim of the glass. Sometimes I will even let a half of an inch slide, but no more than that.

                The only time I have ever complained was the time my Martini was served to me only half full.

                Then there was the time I caught one bartender squirting soda water into my Martini to make it look more full. I never went back.

              2. re: PontiusPalate

                OK, I re-read this and confess to having surrendered to my more base impulses . . .

                >>> Hendricks Gin is not exactly what I would call "cheap booze." <<<

                What does price have anything to do with wanting to enjoy straight "gin" (if you can call it that)?

                For example, Gordon's and Seagram's Extra Dry are two fines which are not only very affordable, but "play far above their weight division," as fas as quality it concerned.

                Are we more concerned with the quality of what's in one's cocktail glass (i.e.: the quality of the final drink itself), or the quantity of alcohol one gets for the amount of money one puts down on the bar?

                1. re: zin1953

                  And I LOATHE Hendricks cause I LOATHE cucumber. My everyday vodka is Smirnoff...cause I like the taste. A friend/former nabe loved Belvedere and I kept it on hand for her but actively didn't like it.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I dislike Hendrick's as well. It is inconsistent and can sometimes taste medicinal, and I don't like the cucumber flavor either.

                    1. re: JMF

                      While I do find it to be "stretching things a bit" to include Hendricks in the gin category, that's just me personally. The world certainly accepts it as a "gin."

                      As far as the OP's taste in gin is concerned, everyone likes what he or she likes -- and this is why there is more than one type of gin in the marketplace. No one has to agree with *my* personal taste preference(s).

                      Though I am frequently reminded of that wonderful example of graffiti I saw in the late 1960s: "Eat $#|+! 50 million flies CAN'T be wrong!"

                      1. re: JMF

                        JMF,

                        Just curious. What is your favorite gin?

                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                          When I want a London Dry I have Gordon's which I consider the benchmark for London Dry.

                          If I want a new style gin I like Tuthilltown Half Moon Orchard gin, Greenhook, Sipsmith's, several of the Sacred gin's, Knickerbocker... and a few others.

                            1. re: jpc8015

                              Another benchmark London Dry gin...

                            2. re: PontiusPalate

                              >>> JMF, Just curious. What is your favorite gin? <<<

                              Again, I'm not JMF -- actually, I'm JBL -- but can I play?

                              Evolution is constant. That means that, while some gins are indeed "benchmark," an individual's tastes continue to change and "evolve" over a lifetime.

                              So, for Dry Martinis, I want a "London Dry" Gin, and my "go to" gin was long Bombay (regular, not Sapphire), but would occasionally drift to Boodle's or Beefeater. Recently, however, I returned to Gordon's and both my taste buds and my wallet are very happy. ;^)

                              For what I refer to as a "Venetian Martini"¹ -- not for the hotel-casino, but merely because that's what the bar in which I first had it called the drink -- I usually use No. 209, sometimes Plymouth. The same holds true for a Negroni.

                              For a Gin & Tonic, it's often Tanqueray.

                              All this applies to what i make at home.

                              If I am in a "craft" bar -- i.e.: one that takes its cocktails seriously -- what gin I get depends . . . often, if the gin is specified in the description of the drink, I'll go with that one. If it isn't, I'll often ask the bartender what gin he or she suggests works best in that particular cocktail and (as long as it's not Hendricks . . . seriously) I'll generally go with their recommendation.

                              _______________
                              ¹ 4 ounces of No. 209 (or Plymouth) Gin, 1.5 ounces of Caprano Formula Antica Vermouth, lemon peel.

                            3. re: JMF

                              Before I developed a liking for Hendrick's, my gin of choice was Bombay Sapphire. Before Bombay Sapphire, it was Tanqueray. Now both Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray taste "medicinal" to me.

                            4. re: c oliver

                              I didn't like Hendrick's Gin until about a year ago.

                              I could never understand what all the fuss was about with respect to Hendrick's Gin and cucumbers.

                              I had tried a couple of Hendrick's Gin Martinis with a cucumber slices and was not impressed.

                              Then I had another one about a year ago, and it was like an epiphany.

                              Hendrick's Gin has been my choice of gin ever since.

                            5. re: zin1953

                              Quality comes first.

                              That's why my favorite Gin at this time is Hendrick's.

                              It's the best I've had so far.

                              Quantity comes in second place.

                              Two ounces of Hendrick's Gin is better than one.

                        2. The following is an interesting article on the free pour vs. jigger debate:

                          http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/07...

                          PP

                          44 Replies
                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                            This seems to be the opposite of what you prefer. The article claims that free pouring is as accurate as measuring. I'd prefer if he backed that claim up with a demonstration or research.

                            You seems to like free pouring because it *isn't* as accurate -- because you get more of your one-ingredient preferred drink. For your drink, measuring isn't about balance or recipe, it's about portion size.

                            So, sure, if I'm ordering a Lagavulin neat and the bartender wants to count to 10, I'm delighted. But then I've also gotten free-poured expensive spirits where I have no idea if I got a fair pour.

                            The other 99% of the time that I'm ordering a drink at a good bar, I expect them to measure it. Then I know whether I like their recipe or not. If they free pour I have no idea if this drink is predictive of how the recipe tastes.

                            If you see someone free pouring onto ice without a pourer, you know they are guessing. You cannot predict the volume of ice by looking because it depends about how it is lying in the glass.

                            --
                            www.kindredcocktails.com

                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                              >>> The other 99% of the time that I'm ordering a drink at a good bar, I expect them to measure it. Then I know whether I like their recipe or not. If they free pour I have no idea if this drink is predictive of how the recipe tastes. <<<

                              Nor do you know if the drink will be the same the next time you go . . .

                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                Theoretically, I agree that a drink prepared with the free pour method should be equal in strength and measure with one prepared with the jigger method.

                                I was speaking only on behalf of Martinis, a point which I should have made more clear in my original post.

                                In actual practice, the Martinis in my area which have been prepared with the free pour method have been substantially stronger overall than those prepared with the use of a jigger.

                                Of the approximately 40 restaurants with full bar service within a two mile radius of my home, I can only think of one bar in which this was not the case. This was the bar where the bartender made my Martini with a quick pour count which looked like it was about two seconds.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  Many of the bartenders in my area know my preferences and get my first Martini started the minute I walk through the door.

                                  Whenever I encounter a new bartender who asks me what I want, I usually say:

                                  "I would like a Hendricks Gin Martini, up and very dry, with a cucumber slice."

                                  Most of the time I get it served accordingly, and with a decent pour count and satisfactory strength.

                                  I have never had one that wasn't served cold and didn't stay nice and cool until the very last sip.

                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                    Aside from the preference for Hendricks -- yes, I know, it's a personal thing -- it's always nice to go where everybody knows your name.

                                    Still . . .

                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                      How long does it actually take you to drink one of those "martini's"?

                                      What temp. do you think the cocktail was served at?

                                      And what temp. throughout the consumption?

                                      And the temp. of the last sip?

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        Hello JMF,

                                        Although I have never really timed myself, I would say that it takes me anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to finish each of the Martinis served at the bar of one of my favorite restaurants. I usually take longer to drink the second one, as I am usually eating my meal at the same time.

                                        If I arrive at 8:00 p.m., and drink two Martinis that night, I am usually out the door no later than 9:15 p.m. after paying my bill. If I have three Martinis, or two Martinis and one Manhattan, I am usually out the door by 9:45 p.m.

                                        I have never conducted a temperature measurement of my Martinis or Manhattans before, during, or after my last sip. All I know is that they have maintained a temperature that has been pleasantly cool enough to leave me satisfied and without complaint.

                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                          A classic Martini has apx. 2-3 oz. gin, and apx. .5-1 oz. vermouth.

                                          A 3 oz. serving of gin is probably way too small according to your descriptions.

                                          Cocktail temp. info:

                                          3 oz. gin, stirred on ice for 30 seconds, poured into a room temp. (70.5F) Rona Classic series Cocktail glass is 27F. Room temp. constant at 70.5F. No touching of glass or sipping. So the cocktail is at the coldest possible temp. for the situation.

                                          At 3.5 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 36F

                                          At 6 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 39F

                                          At 8 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 41F

                                          At 10 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 43.5F

                                          At 13 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 46F

                                          At 15 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 48F

                                          At 18 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 50F

                                          At 20 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 52F

                                          At 23 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 53F

                                          At 25 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 54.5F

                                          At 28 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 56F

                                          At 30 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 56.5F

                                          At 35 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 58F

                                          At 40 minutes, with a brief stir with the thin digital thermometer, 60F

                                          Rona Classic series Cocktail glass, see pic.

                                           
                                          1. re: JMF

                                            Hello JMF,

                                            Many thanks for the information you have provided above.

                                            This is very educational to me, and I have printed this out for my "Martini files."

                                    2. re: PontiusPalate

                                      Cold gin in a cocktail glass is Gin, Up. Not a Martini. Doesn't matter if the bars in your area call it a Martini, it isn't.

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        I know you don't toot your own horn (much!) but hopefully OP has picked up on the fact that this is your profession.

                                        1. re: JMF

                                          Hello JMF,

                                          I don't understand.

                                          I've been reading up on various definitions of a Martini online, such as the following:

                                          "Martini -- A cocktail made with gin and vermouth and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist."

                                          How and why does it being served "up" not make it a Martini?

                                          I can accept that if I have a Martini without any vermouth whatsoever, with 100% gin, then it no longer satisfies the definition of a Martini.

                                          But as long as it contains even just a drop of vermouth, isn't it still a Martini, according to the definition above?

                                          Does the fact that I like my Hendricks Gin Martini with a cucumber slice, instead of an olive or a lemon twist, not make it a Martini?

                                          Please explain. Thanks.

                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                            >>> How and why does it being served "up" not make it a Martini? <<<

                                            Re-read JMF's post. That is not what he said.
                                            ______

                                            "Cold gin in a cocktail glass is Gin, Up.

                                            [It is n]ot a Martini."
                                            _____

                                            Any drink served in a glass with no ice is "up," so any Martini I've ever had (or made) has been served "up" (as opposed to "on the rocks").

                                            /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

                                            >>> But as long as it contains even just a drop of vermouth, isn't it still a Martini, according to the definition . . . <<<

                                            IIRC, there was a scene in a Cary Grant movie -- or maybe it was one of The Thin Man films -- where someone just waved the cork from the vermouth bottle over the pitcher of ice and gin and claimed that was enough gin for him!

                                            I am not JMF -- and lord knows he knows far more about spirits than I do! -- and he is certainly free to speak for himself, but let me attempt to answer your question anyway . . . by first, let me ask you a question:

                                            Why is the vermouth present in the first place?

                                            Let's ignore the fact that you claim not to like the taste of vermouth --

                                            >>> I really don't like the taste of vermouth. Therefore, I usually ask for my martinis to be prepared extra dry. If I can taste the vermouth, then it is too much. <<<

                                            -- and focus on why it's there in the first place. It *does* play an important role.

                                            The original Martini was made with Vermouth that was much sweeter than today's popular Dry Vermouth, so the term "Dry Martini" originally meant "use that dry type of vermouth," rather than "more gin, less vermouth" as the term "Extra Dry Martini" has come to mean today. The aromatics and flavors of the vermouth play off those in the gin, and softened the (frequently harsh) finish of straight gin. It was a cocktail, not straight gin.

                                            >>> Sometimes I even ask for no vermouth. <<<

                                            Yes, well, straight gin is certainly different than a Martini . . .

                                            1. re: zin1953

                                              Hello zin1953,

                                              I enjoyed you description of the scene in the movie you described.

                                              I have actually given up asking for "no vermouth" when I order a Martini. It was making some of my bartenders nervous. Some of our local bartenders are young women in their early to mid twenties. Some of them are bartending in order to help pay for their college expenses.

                                              On the other hand, my favorite bartender in the area is one with several years of experience working in bars in NYC and Miami. She definitely knows her stuff, and watching her in action is like poetry in motion.

                                              I now ask for "extra dry" when ordering a Martini. As a result, I am no longer being assaulted with that unpleasant vinegary taste which has resulted from too much vermouth. As long as I can't really taste it, then I am fine.

                                              The so called "aromatics" and flavors in vermouth have never done anything for me. On the other hand, I do like the "aromatics" present in Hendrick's Gin.

                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                >>> I now ask for "extra dry" when ordering a Martini. As a result, I am no longer being assaulted with that unpleasant vinegary taste which has resulted from too much vermouth. <<<

                                                Then, CLEARLY, you have been going to bars where Martinis aren't very popular. There is NOTHING at all that is "vinegary" about Vermouth . . . unless it is improperly stored, ill-treated, and sits around for months . . . clearly a possibility in Norfolk, as I'm not sure your average "swabbie" drinks Martinis . . . then again, perhaps they do.

                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                  A number of fine wines taste "vinegary" to me as well. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are "vinegary."

                                                  It just means they taste that way to me, as does vermouth. I have never been a wine person and never will be.

                                                  You are right on point. The average "swabbie" here in Norfolk does not drink a lot of Martinis. Beer is their most popular beverage by far.

                                                  There are beer people, wine people, and cocktail people when it comes to their predominant alcoholic beverage of choice.

                                                  In Norfolk, there are more beer people than wine and cocktail people. And there are more wine people than cocktail people.

                                                  When I go into the bar of a restaurant, I am often the only one who is drinking a Martini.

                                                  Several people have tried to convert me to wine. I even joined a wine club for a while in order to develop a greater appreciation for wine.

                                                  I have sampled a number of fine wines at our wine club events. A typical event for our wine club includes a full course dinner and 6 glasses of wine.

                                                  I always left these events wishing that I had a couple of Martinis instead of those 6 glasses of wine.

                                                  It's just not the same,

                                                  I will concede that Norfolk has a lot of catching up to do on the cocktail front.

                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                    >>> A number of fine wines taste "vinegary" to me as well. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are "vinegary." <<<

                                                    Yes, well, "vinegary" means something VERY specific, and proper terminology is important. (Next time you have some Hendricks, try it with a pickle slice instead of a cucumber . . . after all, same thing, right?

                                                    >>> When I go into the bar of a restaurant, I am often the only one who is drinking a Martini. <<<

                                                    Which is why the vermouth probably IS vinegary!

                                                    >>> I have never been a wine person and never will be. <<<

                                                    Actually, that's fine with me.

                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                      Nope.

                                                      Pickles and cucumbers are not the same to me.

                                                      I love cucumbers.

                                                      I hate pickles.

                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                        >>> I love cucumbers. I hate pickles. <<<

                                                        Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)
                                                        Pickle, aka Pickled Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          Sorry, zin. I hate cucumbers but like pickles just fine.

                                                2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                  You obviously haven't ever had a quality and well cared for vermouth, if you say vermouth is vinegary.

                                                  Vermouth is basically a delicate, herbal, white wine; with a pleasant hint of oxidation.

                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                    "On the other hand, my favorite bartender in the area is one with several years of experience working in bars in NYC and Miami. She definitely knows her stuff, and watching her in action is like poetry in motion."

                                                    If this bartender is so good, ask for a proper, classic dry martini, 3.5-4 oz. premium gin with some flavor to 1-1.5 oz. Dolin dry vermouth, and a dash of Angostura Orange or Regan's orange bitters. Stirred, strained into a chilled cocktail glass, garnished with an expressed lemon peel wiped around the rim.

                                                    Then talk about Martini's...

                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                      JMF,

                                                      Okay, will do.

                                                      If she does not have all of the ingredients to make this one, then I know of another bar in downtown Norfolk that probably does. It's a very high end restaurant and bar, one I haven't been to yet.

                                                      I have made a copy of your recipe above for my files.

                                                      Thanks!

                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                        If she is as good a bartender as you say, she'll have all the ingredients . . .

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          She has the skills. However, the bar where she works is more of a wine bar than a cocktail bar. Wine is prioritized there over spirits. As a result, their selection of spirits, vermouth, etc., is limited by whatever the owner allows to be ordered.

                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                            And you go to a wine bar for a Martini because . . . ???

                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                              Yeah, that had occurred to me also.

                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                For the following reasons:

                                                                1) It's the closest restaurant and bar to my home and only a five minute walk away.

                                                                2) They serve the best fresh seafood specials within a two mile radius of my home.

                                                                3) They paid for my entire meal on my last birthday.

                                                                4) Sometimes their waitresses will come over and scratch my back while I am seated at the bar.

                                                                5) They have told me that I am "family."

                                                                6) Their bartender is one of the best in the area. She was one of five finalists in a recent regional cocktail contest. Bartenders from several neighboring cities had applied. Although her talents would probably be better utilized in a cocktail bar, I'm glad she is where she is right now.

                                                        2. re: JMF

                                                          That is a great martini and what I make at home. Measured.

                                                          Tomorrow morning I will be at Tales of the Cocktail in a gin class at 10:30. I promise I won't be wanting a Martini for lunch!

                                                          1. re: collardman

                                                            I'm missing Tales this year. I had to make a last minute cancellation. Have fun.

                                                          2. re: JMF

                                                            JMF,

                                                            This recipe is sounding better and better to me all the time.

                                                            3.5 to 4 ounces of gin sounds like a whole lot more than the amount of gin I had at that bar which made my Martini with only one jigger full of gin.

                                                            I also like the idea of the orange bitters and the lemon peel wiped around the rim.

                                                            It does sound like Hendrick's would not go well with the orange bitters.

                                                            I also forgot to mention in this thread that I HATE olives. A Martini with olives is an abomination to me. The very sight of olives grosses me out.

                                                            If a bar is out of Hendrick's Gin, then I usually ask for Bombay Sapphire and ask for a lemon twist.

                                                            Thanks again for your recipe.

                                                            PP

                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                              I only made those numbers with so much gin because you say that the bars serve you cocktails filled to the rim of the glass. Since most "conical" martini glasses hold at least 8 oz. you would need that much gin, plus vermouth. plus a long stir for the beneficial dilution and chilling, to fill the glass. A normal classic martini would be more like:

                                                              2.5 oz. gin
                                                              1 oz. dry vermouth
                                                              1 dash orange bitters

                                                              stirred on ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon peel garnish.

                                                              My current fav is to use Tuthilltown Half Moon Orchard gin and Dolin dry vermouth, with Angostura Orange bitters. Although Greenhook or Knickerbocker gins are mighty tasty too.

                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                JMF,

                                                                Many thanks for clarifying the numbers and proportions for a "normal classic martini."

                                                                About ten years ago, I had a martini (or a cocktail if you prefer) which used Sake instead of Vermouth, and with pickled ginger slices as a garnish. I can't remember whether gin or vodka was used.

                                                                Ever heard of a drink like that?

                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                  Yes, it is the most basic and classic Saketini. Usually made with vodka, but much better with a floral gin.

                                                                  Proportions can vary from 2.5 oz. sake : 1 oz. vodka/gin to .5 oz. sake : 2 oz. vodka/gin.

                                                                  I like using
                                                                  2 oz. of a junmai sake
                                                                  1 oz. floral gin
                                                                  with a just a scant dash of yuzu juice

                                                                  Stirred preferably, but can be shaken and fine strained.

                                                                2. re: JMF

                                                                  Had some Broker's gin today. They are dropping a ton of money with a large hospitality room.

                                                                  The gin is good. very smooth and "light". It is supposed to have 6 or more botanicals in it but the blend is not heavy on the juniper or any others. It was nice neat and would work nicely as a pink gin with various bitters. My one complaint is it is 94 proof so one must be a bit careful on how many you drink.

                                                                  As you know, the town is full of bar tenders this week, We were at Chris McMillans place for lunch and all the bar tenders used measured pours. (PP, Chris is one of the top five bartenders and drink historians in New Orleans. Having him make you a cocktail on a slow night when he can spin tales is a treat.)

                                                                  Another note on mixing a drink is the ice. I sampled a Pernod Absinthe with lime cocktail that was served on the rocks. I set it aside and 3 hours later there was still cubed ice in the glass. There are machines that make pure ice that lasts.

                                                                  1. re: collardman

                                                                    94 proof is a classic gin proof. 80 proof gin is an American market thing.

                                                                    1. re: collardman

                                                                      I'm friends with Chris. I really miss not being at Tales this year. This is only the second time I have missed it in 7-8 years.

                                                                      Sounds like the ice was from a Kold-Draft or Hoshizaki ice machine. Or else hand cut from block ice made in a Clinebell machine.

                                                                      1. re: collardman

                                                                        I like Brokers. Three or four years ago you could get some real good deals on it. Now, it is no big secret, and is priced about where it should be.
                                                                        But my take is that it is a classic London Dry style, heavy on the juniper.

                                                                        1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                          Agree. It used to be my go to for a gin and tonic.

                                                                          I do get a stronger hit of what I think is witch hazel in Brokers than in many other gins. But I'm with you with regards to the juniper being very forward in Brokers.

                                                                          1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                            I think the balance takes away the juniper for me. It's not like something like Citadel with botanical overload.

                                                                            But gin has now gone all over the place from London dry.

                                                                            Part of the presentation was some great photos of the restored gin palaces in London (and Dublin). Made me want to hop a plane just for an architecture tour.

                                                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                              Agreed for me as well. Smooth, juniper-forward, but I do think it's has a somewhat oily and heavy mouthfeel, which isn't so much a complaint as it is an observation that may not appeal to some folks. I think it makes an excellent Martini though I prefer my go-to, Boodles, or Plymouth, thought the price of the latter has basically made it something I used only in specific things and not for a regular occasion Martini.

                                                                        2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                          Do you like cocktail onions? If so, then ask for a Gibson. Martini with onions instead of olives.

                                                          3. re: PontiusPalate

                                                            It isn't really a debate. Top bartenders know who can do perfect free pours, and who can't. I teach jiggering as a mandatory and consistent factor. I also teach free pouring once a bartender has a solid knowledge and understanding. But don't let them use free pouring until they can hit my exacting standards time and again. So far I have had very few be able to do that. And none of those free pours, except to practice. They count their pours every time, but since they value the consistency and quality of the cocktails, they do this into a jigger. But they let their soul into the equation as well.

                                                            There are very few folks such as Michael Neff at Ward III, or all the bartenders at Employees Only, who put as much effort into their free pouring. They train constantly to maintain accuracy. The average bartender doesn't even have all the same pour spouts in their bottles. So each bottle pours at a different speed. (By the way, I have seen Michael using jiggers. So it isn't an all or nothing thing.)

                                                            In the photo in the article Michael is using spill-stop 285-50 pour spouts. These accurately pour 1 ounce per four seconds. They are basically the only make and model that are highly dependable. It still takes weeks of constant practice to be able to get within 1/8 of an ounce each time. Let alone the 1/16th or less of an ounce that many fine cocktails require.

                                                            The bar staff at Employees Only all free pour. They also have to apprentice for literally years before they become bartenders. They get tested each week, and are expected to be perfect on their pours.

                                                            Whichever style used, a excellent bartender tastes their cocktails, and adjusts as needed. Natural ingredients such as citrus vary from day to day. Eggs can have more or less white. Single barrel or micro batch spirits can differ from bottle to bottle. Ice can be different.