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Free Pour Vs. Jigger Method

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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.


      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!


        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


                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


                        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: PontiusPalate


                            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.

                              1. re: zin1953


                            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:



                          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.


                            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


                                                      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.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            Me thinks thou doth missed the point.

                                                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


                                                      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.


                                                      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


                                                            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.


                                                            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


                                                                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.

                                                          4. I suggest you don't come to Australia.
                                                            Here, it is against the liquor licensing laws to free pour. You must use a jigger, or preferably, an Electronic Measuring Unit. Not sure if they use them where you are, but they are mounted above the bar and you place the bottle upside down in them, hold the glass to the button and press and the unit measures out exactly 30ml of liquor.

                                                            The old bottle top pourers with the ball bearing for measuring are no longer allowed.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: cronker

                                                              This is the case in MANY nations . . . just not the US.

                                                            2. As others have stated, I think that the free pour method is fine with drinks that are one liquor and a mixer (like a gin and tonic), or one liquor alone (like a bourbon on the rocks). I don't generally drink those types of drinks, however. In Boston, where I live, we have lots of craft cocktail bars making very inventive drinks with multiple ingredients. Measuring is essential in these cases, as the drinks will not be consistent from drink to drink.

                                                              When you order a Manhattan, do you ask for no vermouth? I ask, because you don't want the vermouth in your martini, and I don't know if the sweet vermouth in a Manhattan is OK for you or not. One reason you may not like vermouth is that many bars don't store their vermouth properly (it should be refrigerated), and so you may be getting vermouth from a bottle that's been sitting on a room temp shelf for months. This will seriously alter the taste of the vermouth (and not in a good way). I don't drink Martinis, but my wife does, and she prefers a mix of 2.5 oz gin (generally Bombay Sapphire) to 1 oz vermouth (always Dolin dry-refrigerated). I make Manhattans at 2oz Rye (I prefer it to Bourbon in a Manhattan) and 1 oz Dolin rouge vermouth, and 3 dashes of Angoustura bitters. A Manhattan without the vermouth is cold bourbon (or rye)

                                                              20 Replies
                                                              1. re: kimfair1

                                                                And a martini without vermouth is cold gin. There's nothing wrong with that but why call it something that it's not. It could be a mojito or a Margarita or whatever.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  It's a lot easier to order "a martini, no vermouth, with a twist". Than say "a glass of cold gin, stirred, poured up in a cocktail glass, with a twist".
                                                                  Sometimes being correct, just isn't worth the effort.

                                                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                    It depends upon whether you want to be understood or not . . . I may order a hot dog at the ballpark, but why would I say that when I really wanted a Polish sausage? or a Hot Link? or Andouille? They all look similar, but . . .

                                                                    OTOH, getting EITHER "a martini, no vermouth, with a twist" OR "a glass of cold gin, stirred, poured up in a cocktail glass, with a twist" is considerably cheaper at home -- you night as well as "Why go out?"

                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                      Personally when i order a martini out, i do want the vermouth. I'm just saying why someone would order it that way. It is totally to be understood. Because if you want to be completely correct, then you have to say cocktail glass, not martini glass, and possibly explain what that is, etc., etc.
                                                                      And when i go out, it could be for a lot of reasons, not just to have a certain drink. And every drink that i make at home is considerably cheaper.
                                                                      Your hotdog analogy makes no sense at all. If i want a cold glass of gin up in a cocktail glass, and i order a martini, no vermouth, it is the same thing.(Most bars have no idea about adding orange bitters). If i order a hot dog, but really wanted polish sausage, that would make no sense at all.
                                                                      Once i went into a "martini bar", ordered a beefeaters martini up with olives. The waitress asked me "dry or dirty", which was perplexing as these aren't mutually exclusive, so i asked what she meant. Her reply, dirty had vermouth, dry had none. At that point i could of wasted my time trying to educate her. Instead, i just told her exactly how i wanted it.

                                                                      1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                        I would have figured that "dirty or dry" was asking your sense of humor.

                                                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                          If it's gotten to the point where "dirty" and "dry" are confused then who really gives a rip? For me that remains an argument for ordering exactly what you want, i.e., cold gin, up, in a martini glass with the garnish of one's choice. I was also of the opinion that if you're going to use a 'good' gin then the only acceptable garnish is a twist. But hey what do I know?

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            Part of it comes down to, ordering the right type of drink for the bar you're in.

                                                                            I order cocktails in cocktail bars, beer in beer bars, wine in wine bars... and don't do happy hour or places that have foo foo shots, jello shots, fluorescent liquor, etc.

                                                                            (Although I did have some commercial fine cocktail jello shots recently that kind of blew my mind.)

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              I like em both ways, just depends how I'm feeling that day.
                                                                              Usually at home i do Gordons, Dolin, twist and a dash of orange bitters.
                                                                              After thinking about it. Out to eat i think i prefer olives, for some reason. Maybe because i can feed my date an olive that way ;)

                                                                            2. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                              Ha! Sometimes both (the sense of humor)

                                                                          2. re: zin1953

                                                                            I never drink when I am at home. When I am at home, I usually have water or some type of cold pressed juice with my dinner meal. I only drink when I go out to eat for my evening dinner meal.

                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                              Yes, you said that before, but I remain curious as to why . . .

                                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                                Hello zin1953,

                                                                                I live alone, and I simply do not enjoy drinking alone. Never have.

                                                                                I eat out two to three times a week. When I do, I like to celebrate with two or three Martinis.

                                                                                Another one of my rules is: If I want a Martini or any other kind of cocktail, I have to walk to get it.

                                                                                This helps me to burn off some of the calories from the drinks I consume.

                                                                                For example, I am going out tonight to one of my favorite restaurants and bars, which is a brisk 30-minute walk each way.

                                                                                Burning off the calories from walking gives me a greater sense of well being and the peace of mind that I do not have to worry about being stopped for a DUI.

                                                                      2. re: kimfair1

                                                                        Hello kimfair1,

                                                                        As a result of your post and others, I now have a greater appreciation for the use of jiggers and other measuring devices when preparing more complex cocktails where standards of precision and consistency become more important.

                                                                        I was looking at this issue through the lens of a Martini drinker, as that is what I order about 90% of the time. The vast majority of the bars and restaurants in my neighborhood use the free pour method when making their Martinis.

                                                                        What set me off was that the bar staff at one local restaurant, as mentioned in my original post, suddenly switched from the free pour method to the jigger method when making their Martinis.

                                                                        The result has been Martinis of substantially reduced strength and which are not competitive in strength with the other Martinis in my area. For example, the Martinis prepared at the bar of another restaurant right across the street are now easily twice as strong. Yet, their prices are roughly the same.

                                                                        In regard to Manhattans: I have just looked up the online description of what is now my favorite Manhattan served in my neighborhood. It is described as follows:

                                                                        "Old Overholt Rye, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, house made orange bitters, and ginger puree."

                                                                        This particular restaurant changes their drink menu about four times a year. This one is now their current "house Manhattan."

                                                                        Previously, my favorite Manhattan was called a Mile High Manhattan, described as follows:

                                                                        4 Parts of Maker's Mark Bourbon Whiskey
                                                                        1 Part of Vanilla Liqueur
                                                                        1 Part of Grand Marnier
                                                                        3 or 4 Parts of Anise Flavored Liqueur


                                                                        One of the bartenders in my area was actually making this for a while, before she moved on to another career. As you can see, there is no Vermouth in this one. My bartender was also making this one with the free pour method.

                                                                        However, after asking other bartenders to duplicate it, this one has now grown too sweet for my tastes. The first one I described above with the Old Overholt Rye is now my favorite.

                                                                        I'm pretty sure that the Vermouth made with this one is refrigerated. However, I will make a note to watch for this the next time I order one at the bar of this particular restaurant.

                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                          >>> As a result of your post and others, I now have a greater appreciation for the use of jiggers and other measuring devices when preparing more complex cocktails where standards of precision and consistency become more important. <<<

                                                                          Glad to hear it!

                                                                          >>> I was looking at this issue through the lens of a Martini drinker . . . <<<

                                                                          Keep in mind, too, that Martini "preferences" vary greatly, depending upon the drinker -- and I'm not even talking about the non-Martini drinks called "martini" or have "-tini" tacked onto the back end of their name. Nor am I even entering the Great Gin vs. Vodka debate.¹ But *clearly* you have the ratio of gin to vermouth (2:1; 3:1, 4:1; 11:1², the TYPE of vermouth, the BRAND of vermouth (let alone gin), etc., etc., etc. Some bars may only have one type of vermouth; others may have several, one designated as their "well" vermouth, but others can be "called."

                                                                          ¹ OK, I *am* entering it: a "Martini" is Gin. If one prefers vodka, one orders a "Vodka Martini." IMHO, of course.

                                                                          ² Back in the 1960s and '70s, Heublien -- under both the Heublien label of bottled, pre-mixed cocktails, and under the Club label of single-serving cans of pre-mixed cocktails -- sold gin martinis in both a "regular" and 11-to-1 ratio.

                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                            11:1 sounds more to the OPs liking. Why bother? As he said, if he can taste the vermouth then there's too much.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              If I do have a Martini with a ratio of 11:1, then it is still a Martini, right?

                                                                          2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                            That Mile High Manhattan is a cocktail that is similar to a Manhattan in that is has whiskey. That's about all it has in relation to a Manhattan. It isn't even a Manhattan variant, in that to be so it would have to have either all the ingredients and ratios of a Manhattan, plus maybe small amounts of 1-2 other ingredients. Or all but one of the ingredients/ratio of a Manhattan with 1-2 small substitutions. So it may have Manhattan in the name, but that doesn't mean it's a Manhattan.

                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                              Yeah, well . . . that drink sounds gawd-awful to me -- even in an airplane! -- but I didn't want my bias to color my riff on "Manhattans" becoming the whiskey-based "Martinis," i.e.: anything [seemingly] goes.

                                                                              Thanks for chiming in . . . a far better authority than I. ;^)

                                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                                It actually tastes very good, although it is now a bit too sweet for my tastes. I forgot to mention that my bartender garnished this one with a burnt orange peel.

                                                                              2. re: JMF


                                                                                Does the first Manhattan I described, the one with the Old Overholt Rye, fit your definition of a Manhattan?

                                                                          3. So, just to stir the pot a bit more, are these "martinis" you prefer shaken or stirred? There's a bar near me that free pours, and they make a huge drink. They are nice enough to pour half into the glass, and half into a smaller glass vessel immersed in a ice bucket to keep it cold (same with their Manhattans).

                                                                            34 Replies
                                                                            1. re: kimfair1

                                                                              Stirred or shaken? Was going to be my next question.

                                                                              1. re: JMF


                                                                                I prefer my Martinis shaken.

                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                  Why am I not surprised?

                                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                                    lol, this thread cracks me up

                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                      Because she clearly does not like martinis. She likes cold, watered down gin. And lots of it.

                                                                                      I can't say that I would be disappointed if I met a woman like this in a bar.

                                                                                      1. re: jpc8015

                                                                                        Ummmm...........As the original poster, I am not a "she."


                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                          This changes everything...

                                                                                          1. re: jpc8015


                                                                                    2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                      Just a travesty all around...

                                                                                      1. re: JMF


                                                                                        In all honesty, I can't remember the last time that I had a Martini that was stirred instead of shaken.

                                                                                        I have read about the commentaries about how the act of shaking allegedly "bruises" a Martini. But I have never had any complaints about the effect that shaking has upon a Martini, either with its taste or texture.

                                                                                        What exactly is it about a Martini that is stirred instead of shaken do you find that makes it superior?

                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                          There is no such thing as bruising.

                                                                                          A shaken cocktail has air incorporated, and ice crystals floating on top. The air lightens the texture, and the ice crystals melt immediately and water it down on top.

                                                                                          Only cocktails with juice, milk, egg, etc. should be shaken, in a full shaker full of ice for 17-20 seconds.

                                                                                          A properly stirred cocktail has a silky/oily feel on the tongue and is very sensual. Cocktails made with all spirits, liqueurs, and vermouth should be stirred. 30-35 seconds in a 90% full cocktail stirring glass of ice.

                                                                                          1. re: JMF


                                                                                            Any "watering down" effect that the ice crystals have upon my shaken Martinis is minute and barely noticeable.

                                                                                            One thing I do not tolerate are shards of ice floating on top of my Martini. When this happens, I call it to the attention of the bartender. I will admit that the effect of the ice crystals in this case is significant and undesirable.

                                                                                            Most of the local bartenders in my area have been properly trained not to let this happen.

                                                                                            Sometimes my bartender gives me a shot glass of free gin to add to my Martini.

                                                                                            But I will admit that you now have me curious. When I go out to my favorite restaurant and bar this Saturday night, I am going to ask for my first Martini stirred instead of shaken. I want to find out if the difference is a favorable one.

                                                                                            On second thought, make that the second Martini. They always start making my first Martini the instant I step through the door, and it is usually waiting for me at the bar when I sit down. There won't be time to give them enough notice.

                                                                                            I will keep you posted.


                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                              Just make sure it is a real, counted, 30+ second stir, with 90%+ fill of ice. Not one of those crappy 5 second stirs. Just as a shake should be 15+ seconds of hard shaking, with 100%+ fill of ice.

                                                                                              Also, the booze should be measured first, then the ice added. Otherwise you get additional dilution.

                                                                                              There is scientific research behind these numbers.

                                                                                              To keep shards out of a shaken drink, are they double/fine straining through a fine tea type strainer? Or just waiting until they melt before serving?

                                                                                              Just get a great gin. Hendrick's really is mediocre.

                                                                                              1. re: JMF


                                                                                                I may have to go to a different bar and give the bartender the precise instructions you have provided above.

                                                                                                My regular bartender at my favorite restaurant and bar would probably freak out if I gave her these instructions, especially on a very busy Saturday night, which is when I usually go. Maybe I can catch her on a less busy night.

                                                                                                One of the other articles I read mentioned that many bartenders who do a lot of high volume business prefer the free pour method, as it allows them to prepare more cocktails in less time.

                                                                                                This is the case with most of the bars in my area. Our bartenders are accustomed to being slammed with a high volume of customers. The city of Norfolk didn't get named as the 2nd drunkest city in America for nothing.

                                                                                                According to my memory, the thin shards of ice that I used to find floating on top of my Martinis came right out of the shaker and not through any type of fine tea strainer. Fortunately, I have not run into this problem lately.

                                                                                                I am surprised that you and so many others here dislike Hendrick's Gin. It is usually the highest end gin available at most of our local bars.

                                                                                                I am not even sure if any of our local bars even stock some of the other brands you mentioned. But I am willing to ask and find out.

                                                                                                What is your opinion of the following poll?


                                                                                                As you will notice, Hendrick's Gin was one of the Double Gold Medal winners.


                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                  Fine straining removes all ice shards. I teach the batrtenders I train to fine strain almost all shaken cocktails. Actually the only 2 that come to mind that I teach not to fine strain are my Cosmopolitan recipe, and the original Corpse Reviver No. 2. Both are meant to be drunk quickly. In the words of the great, classic bartender, Harry Craddock, “The way to drink a cocktail is quickly, while it’s still laughing at you.”

                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                    Great quote!

                                                                                              2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                >>> Any "watering down" effect that the ice crystals have upon my shaken Martinis is minute and barely noticeable. <<<

                                                                                                Uh, no.

                                                                                                >>> One thing I do not tolerate are shards of ice floating on top of my Martini. When this happens, I call it to the attention of the bartender. I will admit that the effect of the ice crystals in this case is significant and undesirable. <<<

                                                                                                Ice melt is a key part of making a Martini. (Don't believe me? Keep one bottle of gin in the freezer; another at room temperature. Make two Martinis. Taste the difference.) EXCESSIVE ice melt is to be avoided. Shaking causes excessive ice melt. It's science. It's unavoidable.

                                                                                                >>> Most of the local bartenders in my area have been properly trained not to let this happen. <<<


                                                                                                >>> Sometimes my bartender gives me a shot glass of free gin to add to my Martini. <<<

                                                                                                As I've said elsewhere, why am I not surprised?

                                                                                                >>> I am going to ask for my first Martini stirred instead of shaken. I want to find out if the difference is a favorable one. <<<

                                                                                                Given what you've said so far, I find myself doubting you would like a properly made, classic Martini. That said, I find myself hoping to be proven wrong.

                                                                                                >>> On second thought, make that the second Martini. They always start making my first Martini the instant I step through the door, and it is usually waiting for me at the bar when I sit down. There won't be time to give them enough notice. <<<

                                                                                                I'll send you the money -- just order the second one as soon as you sit down! Taste them side-by-side, not one after the other. Better yet, tell the bartender to make two fresh ones -- one shaken, one stirred -- and don't let you know which is which. Taste them blind.


                                                                                                >>> Just get a great gin. Hendrick's really is mediocre. <<<

                                                                                                AMEN to that!

                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                  Hello zin1953,

                                                                                                  Believe it or not, I have been reading some online articles that tend to support what you and JMF are saying.

                                                                                                  Here is one of those articles:


                                                                                                  What is your opinion of the Classic Martini recipe given at the end of this article?

                                                                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                    That recipe isn't really classic. The proportions are good, but without the orange bitters, it isn't a classic gin martini recipe.

                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                      Let me answer your simple question ("What is your opinion of the Classic Martini recipe given at the end of this article") in a rather round about fashion . . . and for that, let me apologize in advance.

                                                                                                      My expertise within the "drinks industry" is overwhelmingly rooted in wine. I've spent some 40 years in the trade, working for old-fashioned liquor stores that focused on wine, for wineries, for wholesalers and importers.

                                                                                                      I have a semi-serious wine cellar -- not "high-end, pricey, extravagant" wines but wines nonetheless that benefit from cellaring (as opposed to buying today and pulling the cork tonight). For many years, I rarely if ever had cocktails, favoring instead "straight" distillates (e.g.: Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, and later, Single Malts). My wife, OTOH, enjoys cocktails, and she has slowly expanded my appreciation of the "mixed drink."

                                                                                                      Still, I enjoy my Rye and Bourbon neat, or with very little ice, and have a number of different ones in my liquor cabinet (I rarely drink Scotch anymore), still prefer my Cognacs, Armagnacs, Calvados, and Rhum Agricole¹ in a snifter, and I prefer my vodka neat and straight from the freezer. My favorite cocktails are -- in no particular order, and depending largely upon my mood, the weather, and/or where I am physically in the world -- a Sazerac, Vieux Carrré, Negroni, "gintonica," the occasional Margarita, and a Martini.

                                                                                                      Overall I enjoyed that article very much, and agree -- solidly -- with most of what the author says. (Note: if you look at that picture of Sean Connery as James Bond pouring vodka into a glass, he was drinking the blue label Smirnoff 100-proof, not the red label 80°; I will grant you that might be a little weird for a 10 year old to notice, but I did . . . )

                                                                                                      In terms of the "classic" Martini, while I agree with JMF that it is not THE classic Martini recipe, much depends upon one's definitions. For those professionals within the trade -- bartenders, salespeople, etc. -- that is not a Classic Martini for the reason JMF states: no orange bitters. But for the average consumer, I wouldn't disagree if someone called that a classic Martini.

                                                                                                      One "test," if you will, for distinguishing what I refer to as a "craft" bar from a "regular" one -- that is, one focused on true, hand-crafted cocktails, elevated far above the ordinary (and mundane) -- is their use of orange bitters. Yes, that is an essential part of the true Classic Martini; and no, the average bar doesn't use them.

                                                                                                      Indeed, some bars will -- when someone sits down at the bar and orders "a Martini" -- automatically make their drink with vodka! (Stupid, but true.)

                                                                                                      ¹ FWIW, and off-topic, I love Rhum Clément and Rhum Barbancourt (it's Haitian, and not an Agricole), strongly dislike JM Rhum, and most other rums (no "h") as well . . .

                                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                        I find it interesting that you like Clement, but not JM. They are very similar...

                                                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                                                          Whoooooops! My bad . . .

                                                                                                          It's a different label -- ***not*** Rhum JM.

                                                                                                          It's that W.A.F.S "Chauffe Coeur Rhum" that I cannot stand! It is harsh and rough, like a raw whacky, rather than smooth and round as a fine Cognac . . . I see no point to this $#|+ whatsoever, but I keep running into it, time and time again, despite its somewhat dubious origin and quality.

                                                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                            I've never had that rum.

                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                              Don't waste your time. ;^)

                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                Speaking of rum, have you ever had Ma Doudou Rhum?


                                                                                                                My favorite restaurant and bar got some in a few months ago and I tried it.

                                                                                                                I am not really much of a rum person, but I enjoyed this one.


                                                                                                                1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                  Ma Doudou isn't actually rum, but a line of rum liqueurs and flavored rums, made with fruit and spices, in St. Martin.

                                                                                                                  They are super small batch. They are made with Domincan white rum.

                                                                                                                  I have only heard of them, but haven't tried them.

                                                                                                              2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                Do you like Demerra rums at all? (El Dorado / Lemon Hart)

                                                                                                                1. re: Dapuma

                                                                                                                  Demerara rums are from Guyana... So I don't understand. Chauffe Coeur Rhum is an agricole from Martinique. (Supposedly anyway, there are some discrepancies from what I remember hearing.)

                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                    It's (allegedly) a Rhum Agricole that is distilled in Martinique, then bottled in France . . . except on one line, the label reads "Produced in Martinique" and on another line, "Produced and Bottled in France." I'm not sure how it can be both . . .

                                                                                                                    The label of Chauffe Coeur states it is "Appellation Rhum Contrôlée," but -- and French law is very strict on this (bear with me here) -- there is no such appellation! The true name is "Appellation Rhum Agricole Martinique Contrôlée" and, under French law, the label must display one of the following options:

                                                                                                                    1) Appellation Rhum Agricole Martinique Contrôlée

                                                                                                                    2) Rhum Agricole
                                                                                                                    Appellation Martinique Contrôlée

                                                                                                                    3) Rhum Agricole Martinique
                                                                                                                    Appellation [d'Origine] Contrôlée


                                                                                                                    But there is no such thing as Appellation Rhum Contrôlée.

                                                                                                                    See http://www.ministryofrum.com/forums/s... for but one of the many interesting discussions of this product on the web . . . I find the entire discussion (personalities aside) worthwhile, but the last post particularly interesting.

                                                                                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                      Yes, I remember reading that on Ed's site many years ago.

                                                                                                                    2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                      I was just curious as zin liked two of my favorite rums (Rhum Clement VSOP and Barbancourt 8y 5 star), and I also really enjoy Demerra rums - It had nothing to do with the conversation per se

                                                                                                                      1. re: Dapuma

                                                                                                                        I really like demerara rums, they are some of, if not in fact my top favorite rums. As you know demerara rums are made in Guyana. Out of the over 200 distilleries originally in Guyana back in the 1700-1800's, there is only one distillery making them anymore. The current distillery bought out all the major distilleries over the years, but kept their equipment, so they can, and do, make any of the old style demerara rums. I use the El Dorado line as my house rums in all the bars I consult with. I also use Lemon Hart 151 a lot as well.

                                                                                                              3. re: zin1953


                                                                                                                Many thanks for your commentary, including your "test" for distinguishing a true craft cocktail bar from one which is not, with your primary criterion being their use of orange bitters.

                                                                                                                We have many bars in this area which have their own "in house" cocktail list. These bars may be described by others as craft cocktail bars. But I'm guessing that most of them are probably not true craft cocktail bars.

                                                                                                                I don't even know if Norfolk, Virginia, has a true craft cocktail bar. Many of our bars have a wine list, a craft beer list, and an in-house cocktail list, but with no special emphasis on their cocktails.

                                                                                                                In fact, I'm in the minority most of the time when I go out to these bars. Most people around me order either wine or some type of craft beer while I am sipping on my Martinis.

                                                                                                          2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                            So, you want a Martini, shaken, with no vermouth...but...you want it double strained to get rid of any ice crystals? I'm trying to picture the bars you're talking about, and I just can't imagine any of them have fine mesh strainers to double strain.

                                                                                                            I think Hendrick's can be quite tasty in some drinks, but not a Martini. The thing about Hendrick's is not so much that it is "the best" as much as it is a gin with a particular flavor profile. Many classic cocktails were based on London Dry gin and the newer, sweeter, less dry, more floral and/or citrus-forward gins flooding the market today (like Hendricks) simply make those cocktails taste different. A classic example would be a Tom Collins. I use Gaz Reagan's recipe for a Tom Collins with a London Dry, but for Hendricks, I'd knock the simple syrup down by half. I actually think it works nicely in a Tom Collins if made correctly, but you need to compensate for the new flavor profile.

                                                                                                            The thing about tasting competitions is that to some degree (often a large degree) they're basically just marketing gimmicks to get you to think more of a product, and thus shell out more money to buy the product. If you talk to enough experienced bartenders with solid mixology knowledge and experience, you may be surprised to find how many of them repeatedly fall back on classic London Dry gins like Beefeater that aren't as pricey or viewed as being as trendy, but for people in the know, are nonetheless often viewed as some of the best gins out there. Price can also be deceiving. Plymouth is one of my favorite gins, and is widely considered one of the best gins in the world, and yet, for quite a while, it was very cheap. However, after a change in the marketing plan, its' price was nearly doubled due to an effort to rebrand it as a high-end spirit. Did the product change? No...just the price. At its' heart, gin is a relatively cheap liquor to make, much like vodka, and as such, a good deal of the pricing is somewhat arbitrary and reflects how the product is being marketed versus the quality of what's in the bottle.

                                                                                              3. Well, you sure stumbled into a pack of wolves, didn't you?

                                                                                                Of course, I can only echo most of the erudite comments from the resident experts. While I agree that what you call a martini is what I'd probably call a tragesty (Yeah, I made that portmanteau up), it seems not only seems like that's what you enjoy but you also seem willing to learn more about a traditional/correct martini.

                                                                                                Stick with what JMF laid out and I think you'll be thrilled.

                                                                                                One thing I am baffled by, though, is the idea that an essentially pure gin drink somehow tastes weaker or stronger based on amount. Assuming you're just talking gin in a shaker (*shudder*) then there shouldn't be much of a change between 1, 2, or 3 ounces. The amount of ice and shaking time would seem to play a much larger role than the amount of poured spirit. Perhaps there is a real difference in dilution. Perhaps it's a trick of the mind. You see less booze so it tastes weaker. Dunno!

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                  Greetings cacio e pepe,

                                                                                                  Many thanks for your comments above.

                                                                                                  Pack of wolves? Nah. I don't think so. The experts here seem to be a group of cocktail purists whose knowledge of their craft far exceeds whatever little I know. I have found this to be a very educational discussion.

                                                                                                  In addition, I wish that I lived near where these gentlemen work, so that I can order one of their Martinis and gain a greater firsthand appreciation of what they are talking about.

                                                                                                  On the other hand, I do know what I like. At this point of my personal evolution, I still like Hendricks Gin, I still like the free pour method, and I still like my Martinis shaken instead of stirred.

                                                                                                  In all fairness, I can't remember the last time I have ever had a Martini that was prepared stirred. So, I do owe it to myself to give a stirred Martini a try, if I can find a bartender who is not too busy to make one for me.

                                                                                                  I will try to address the issue above which you said that "baffled" you. It isn't the idea that an essentially pure gin drink tastes weaker or stronger based on the amount.

                                                                                                  Instead, it is based more upon what I call the "buzz factor." Let me explain.

                                                                                                  There is one bar in my neighborhood which consistently fixes a Martini that gives me a buzz during the middle of the first one. This Martini is prepared shaken and with the free pour method.

                                                                                                  It isn't the taste that is stronger. It's the effect. This particular bar is known for fixing the strongest cocktails in my neighborhood.

                                                                                                  In contrast, consider the bar where I had the Martinis prepared with the jigger method, which is located right across the street from the one mentioned above. I barely had a buzz after my third Martini at this bar.

                                                                                                  I was watching their bartender make my Martinis with the jigger method. He only measured one jigger of gin for each of my Martinis. Only one.

                                                                                                  Did this bartender rip me off? Is it customary to fix a Martini with only one jigger of gin? How much gin goes into the largest jigger available at the average bar? In this particular case, it sure didn't look like very much.

                                                                                                  If the "buzz" I had received from the jigger prepared Martini as described above had been equal to the one prepared at the bar right across the street, with the free pour method, then I would not be complaining.

                                                                                                  I don't care where and how the "buzz" comes from -- whether by the free pour method or the jigger method -- as long as the magnitude of the "buzz" is roughly equal from both methods. In this case, it was not even close.

                                                                                                  On the other hand, I did read one article which mentioned that the free pour method gives some customers a psychological impression that they are receiving more alcohol than with the jigger method, whether there is actually more alcohol or not.

                                                                                                  But in the case of the two bars I mentioned above, which are right across the street from each other, the "buzz factor" was substantially greater with the Martinis prepared with the free pour method than the ones prepared with the jigger method.

                                                                                                  This is why I am having such a sour taste in my mouth after my last experience with a jigger prepared Martini.

                                                                                                  What I also find suspicious is that the bar where I had these jigger prepared Martinis used to use the free pour method. All of a sudden, they are now using the jigger method. And as a result, their Martinis are now substantially weaker, not with respect to their respective tastes, but to their comparative "buzz effects", instead.

                                                                                                  Maybe I am wrong, but I suspect that this bar and restaurant may be having financial problems and are now using the jigger method to put a lid on the amount of alcohol that they use. If so, I don't see how they can stay competitive with the bar across the street.


                                                                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                    To clarify one point of confustion:

                                                                                                    When I referred to one Martini being "stronger" than another, I was actually referring to the amount of gin, instead of its perceived taste.

                                                                                                    For example, a Martini which contains 4 ounces of gin would be "stronger" than one which contains 2 ounces of gin, regardless of factors such as dilution and taste.

                                                                                                    I was using the amount of gin in a Martini as a barometer of its strength and not its taste.



                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                      You say one jigger of gin. Jiggers come in 2-3 size types. .5 oz. / .75 oz., 1 oz. / 2 oz., .75 oz. / 1.25 oz.

                                                                                                      The first two are the most commonly used. Especially in fine cocktail bars where they will use "Japanese" style jiggers. Those are what I use. (see pic below of my favorite. Copper Japanese jiggers from cocktailkingdom.com.)

                                                                                                      One full jigger, in the traditional sense, means 1.5 oz. But if using the large side of a 1 oz. / 2 oz. jigger would be 2 oz. That is a nice amount of gin in a martini. The classic amount to be exact.

                                                                                                      Most classically constructed cocktails have 1.5 to 2.75 oz. of alcoholic ingredients. with .5 to 1.5 oz. of non-alcoholic ingredients. Coming o a total of 3.25 to 4 oz. of liquid ingredients, before mixing. This then dilutes to an amount that fills a 8 oz. cocktail glass to within a .25"-.5" of the rim.

                                                                                                  2. I have some observations to make in regard to the demographics of Norfolk, Virginia, including the factors that may play a part in our distinction of being named as the second drunkest city in America.

                                                                                                    Most of those who regularly consume alcohol here in Norfolk appear to belong to one of the following groups:

                                                                                                    1) The sailors.
                                                                                                    2) Students from Old Dominion University (ODU)
                                                                                                    3) The wine snobs.
                                                                                                    4) The hipsters.
                                                                                                    5) Those who prefer cocktails to wine and beer.

                                                                                                    The sailors and ODU students don't seem to care how they get drunk. Beer seems to be their drink of choice.

                                                                                                    Of course, the wine snobs favor wine above anything else.

                                                                                                    The hipsters have a lot of influence here in the Ghent section of Norfolk. They are really into the "craft beer" movement. Most of them seem to know very little about wine and cocktails.

                                                                                                    I might add that the majority of our local bartenders tend to be from the hipster set. This may explain their general lack of expertise when it comes to preparing cocktails and Martinis. This includes the one I caught squirting soda water into my Martini one night. I never went back.

                                                                                                    A few of our local bartenders are exceptions who do have the skills to prepare a decent cocktail and Martini. These are the ones I try to seek out.

                                                                                                    Unfortunately, due to the high volume of customers they have to deal with almost every night, they find that it is a lot quicker to use methods which are not in favor here, such as the free pour method and shaking when preparing Martinis.

                                                                                                    Lastly, there are those who prefer cocktails and Martinis, such as myself. We seem to be in the minority among all of the groups mentioned above.

                                                                                                    I do agree that the city of Norfolk needs to step up its cocktail and Martini game.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                      I think what is bothering some here is this idea that the free pour drink that you prefer, Hendrinks with very little or no vermouth, shaken, garnished with a cucumber, is somehow "stronger" than the jigger method. It isn't stronger, there's just more gin. If they are using really large conical martini glasses, they may be putting up to 4 or 5 oz of gin rather than the largest jigger, which I believe to be 2 oz. This is why you feel "more buzzed", you're drinking twice as much as the place that gave you 2 oz of shaken gin! Below is a short (1 and a half minute) video from a place here in Boston called Eastern Standard. They crank out a huge amount of business, and the do it right. Naomi, the asst bar manager in the video has made me more great cocktails than I can remember.


                                                                                                      1. re: kimfair1


                                                                                                        I think you have hit the nail on the head.

                                                                                                        The Martinis that have given me the greatest "buzz" have been the ones which have used the very large conical Martini glasses, which do contain a substantially greater amount of alcohol.

                                                                                                        I enjoyed the video. That is a bar that I would love to visit someday.


                                                                                                    2. To JMF and others:

                                                                                                      I have recently mentioned that there is one bartender in my neighborhood whose skills I believe eclipse those of all the others. Even though she currently works in what is called a wine bar, I think her skills would be better utilized in a cocktail bar.

                                                                                                      She recently entered a regional cocktail contest, one which also included bartenders from several other cities surrounding the city of Norfolk. She conceived of and submitted a cocktail which made it to the five finalists.

                                                                                                      One stipulation of this contest is that all ingredients had to be made in Virginia. I would welcome your opinion of this cocktail, which is described below.

                                                                                                      -¾ ounce Raw Summer Thistle Honey (from Golden Angels Apiary in Linnville)

                                                                                                      -1 ounce Virginia Gentleman Virginia Bourbon

                                                                                                      -2 ounces Spirits of the Blue Ridge Vodka

                                                                                                      -Splashes of fresh lemon

                                                                                                      -Lemon twist and cinnamon stick, for garnish

                                                                                                      This cocktail is built in the glass. First, pour honey and bourbon into a rocks glass. With a bar spoon, stir for 15 seconds, then add ice to about 1 inch from the top of the glass.

                                                                                                      Add vodka and 3 drops of fresh lemon juice.

                                                                                                      Submerge cinnamon stick to bottom of glass and use it to stir for another 15 seconds.

                                                                                                      Twist a lemon peel over top of the drink and drop in twist.

                                                                                                      Stir cinnamon stick another 5 seconds and serve.

                                                                                                      There you have it. As you can see, this is a "stirring" cocktail. I tried one a couple of weeks ago, and it was very good.

                                                                                                      Maybe I will ask her to fix me a "stirred" Martini one night when she is not too busy.


                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                        So that's an Old Fashioned-template drink using honey for the sugar, with citrus aroma, with cinnamon instead of pie-spiced bitters, and with vodka to dilute the flavor of the bourbon. She may be a great bartender, but I don't see this drink as evidence.

                                                                                                        Here's my submission: 2 oz bourbon, the honey, 1/2 oz of lemon, a muddled lemon peel, 1/4 oz of some Angostura-like bitters made in Virginia, and a local whole egg. Dry shake, shake, straight up, sliver of lemon peel garnish.


                                                                                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                          Sounds good!

                                                                                                          I was actually surprised that I liked this drink, as I normally don't like vodka.

                                                                                                          I think I like your idea of using all bourbon a little better.

                                                                                                          But I still like the cinnamon stick.

                                                                                                          The bartender told me that she came up with this recipe off the top of her head and that she was shocked when it made the cut to the final five.


                                                                                                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                            In case you're curious, here is the drink that came in 1st place in this contest, conceived and submitted by a bartender from Suffolk, VA:

                                                                                                            -2 ounces Catoctin Creek Organic Mosby’s Spirit white rye whiskey (from Purcellville)

                                                                                                            -1 ounce honey simple syrup** made with honey harvested from John Walters’ hives in Ivor

                                                                                                            -½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

                                                                                                            -Local farm egg white

                                                                                                            -4 dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters (available at www.feebrothers.com


                                                                                                            Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake for about 4 minutes to distribute egg white.

                                                                                                            Pour into chilled coupe.

                                                                                                            **Virginia Honey Simple Syrup

                                                                                                            -4 ounces local honey

                                                                                                            -1 cup of sugar

                                                                                                            -1 cup boiling water

                                                                                                            Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and boil for five minutes.

                                                                                                            Cool before using.


                                                                                                            1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                                                                              I agree that the drink she made isn't one showing any skills as a fine cocktail bartender.

                                                                                                              Just because someone wins a cocktail competition, doesn't mean they are a good bartender, or create well designed cocktails.

                                                                                                              The great majority of cocktail competitions are for lousy ingredients and judged by folks who don't know cocktails.

                                                                                                              I've seen dozens and dozens, if not close to 100 cocktail competitions in person over the past decade, and judged quite a few the past 4-5 years. Most of those were pretty great competitions, run by world class quality companies, and with world class judges. But at least a dozen or more were total garbage.

                                                                                                          2. Greetings!

                                                                                                            Here is another very interesting article on the shaking vs. stirring debate when it comes to the preparation of Martinis:


                                                                                                            One conclusion reached from the experiments described in this article is as follows:

                                                                                                            "In other words, shaking just ice and alcohol can cut a spirit's potency nearly in half, and which dilutes a drink 1.75 times more than stirring it does."

                                                                                                            If this is true, then this is the best argument I've heard yet in favor of stirring over shaking.


                                                                                                            The article also states: "But a martini glass is only so big."

                                                                                                            Yes but..........

                                                                                                            There is a significant variation in the size of the martini glasses used in the bars in my neighborhood.

                                                                                                            One particular bar I mentioned earlier does use these extra large conical martini glasses. This is the bar I compared earlier to the other bar which I mentioned which was the last one to use the jigger method on me.

                                                                                                            As kimfair1 pointed out, these glasses can contain a significantly greater amount of alcohol than the largest jigger.

                                                                                                            From my experience, the Martinis prepared with these larger conical shaped glasses, combined with the longer pour counts and the shaking procedure, are the ones which give me the greatest buzz, thus overcoming the greater dilution factor in the shaking process.

                                                                                                            This is especially true of that one particular bar I mentioned earlier, in which I usually begin to feel a "buzz" during the middle of my first one. I might also add that their Martinis are also filled close to the rim.

                                                                                                            Why should I pay the same price for the Martini prepared at the bar which last used the jigger method on me (in which three of their Martinis barely gave me a buzz), as the one whose Martini usually gives me a "buzz" in the middle of the first one? I'm getting less bang for my buck.

                                                                                                            If there was a law that mandated that all Martinis were required to be prepaed in glasses of the same size and shape, and therefore volume, then I have no doubt that I would prefer the stirring method, due to the decreased dilution factor described in this article.


                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                              The article you link to has one major problem. They didn't use enough ice. Five 25 gm cubes, is about half the amount of ice needed for making a quality cocktail.

                                                                                                              The less ice you have, the more dilution you get. Sounds weird, but the more ice in the shaker, the faster the temp. drops, the less dilution. The less ice, the slower the temp. drops, the more dilution.

                                                                                                              Once the temp. is as low as it can get, for the alcoholic strength of the ingredients, dilution stops. The cocktail hits homeostasis.

                                                                                                              Research shows a shaken cocktail gets to 90-95% homeostasis in around 17-20 seconds, full homeostasis in around 20-25 seconds. A stirred cocktail gets to about 80-85% homeostasis in around 35 seconds, full homeostasis in about four minutes.

                                                                                                              Stirring takes more time to hit homeostasis. But, if you were to shake a cocktails until homeostasis, or stir, dilution would be the same. But 85% of the way in a stirred cocktail is fine, because stirred cocktails are better a bit less dilute.

                                                                                                              Shaken cocktails are better a bit more dilute because of the ingredients. Citrus, dairy, etc. benefit more from the dilution. Otherwise the cocktail wouldn't taste properly balanced.

                                                                                                              Oh, by the way, a cocktail that has hit 85-90%+ homeostasis can sit undisturbed in the shaker/stirring glass for at least a minute or more, without changing. At an average indoor temp. of around 70-75F. No more dilution, no warming up.

                                                                                                              1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                Another problem is that they talk about a 4 oz. cocktail/glass. A 4 oz. glass hasn't been popular for cocktails since the late 19th century.

                                                                                                                A bad bartender has extra leftover cocktail that gets thrown out because they aren't measuring.

                                                                                                                A good bartender measures so that the cocktail is a perfect pour for the glass it is served in. My recipe amounts change depending upon the glassware in the bar I consult to. The ratio amounts may change as well, depending upon what TYPE of bar it is. Some bars want classic cocktails, some nouveau, some just big honking, tasty, drinks.

                                                                                                            2. 1. A Martini is one of the cheapest and easiest drinks to make at home. Why in the world would you make a rule that you have to walk to a bar get such a simple drink? Besides, most bars never use orange bitters in a Martini, they're just as likely to ruin the thing by shaking it instead of stirring, they skimp on the vermouth, and even then, the vermouth is almost never properly stored, all of which result in a mediocre to downright bad Martini. At least at home you can measure properly, store your vermouth correctly, keep some orange bitters, always have your choice of gin, and be assured of fresh lemons for garnishing.

                                                                                                              2. A Martini with no vermouth is not a Martini. It's cold gin. You're basically saying you like to get drunk on cold Hendricks with a slice of cucumber floating in there. Again, why would you make a rule that you have to walk to a bar in order to do that?

                                                                                                              3. A Martini is all alcohol with some water dilution...by it's very nature it's a strong drink. If you're just looking for a cheap way to get drunk on clear liquor then shoot some vodka. As for me, I'll be enjoying my drink for something other than a quick means to getting a buzz.

                                                                                                              4. Particularly with a Martini, balance is key in providing a smooth and refreshing drink. I would not trust anyone to free pour to the exact standards that requires, so you either use a jigger or I'm ordering a beer.

                                                                                                              5. So your town boasts a lot of alcoholics...are you proud of that?

                                                                                                              30 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                PP has said numerous times on this thread why he goes out for the Martini. It makes sense, cut the dude some slack.
                                                                                                                Going out and having a drink is more than just the drink, ya know.

                                                                                                                1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                  It's also about more than seeing how quickly and cheaply one can get a buzz on.

                                                                                                                2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                  Greetings To The Big Crunch:

                                                                                                                  I will try to respond to your points and answer your questions below:

                                                                                                                  1. Yes, It is my rule to walk to a bar whenever I want a Martini. My number one reason for this is that I live alone and do not like to drink alone. I simply do not enjoy it. Therefore, I do not have the motivation to buy the bar equipment needed to make my own Martinis at home.

                                                                                                                  Instead, I would rather walk to a local bar, where I can enjoy the companionship of my regular bar friends and occasionally talk to and make a few new friends and acquaintences.

                                                                                                                  Second of all, I always feel invigorated after walking back from one of my neighborhood bars, especially one that is located about 1.5 miles away from my home. It is my estimation that I burn off approximately 320 calories during the round trip, which I am guessing is roughly equivalent of at least one and a half of the two or three Martinis I usually drink there on a given evening.

                                                                                                                  Finally, I love the peace of mind that comes from knowing that, by walking to and from one of my favorite neighborhood bars, I will never have to worry about getting a DUI.

                                                                                                                  2. I never said that I like to "get drunk" on cold Hendricks Gin. Getting drunk usually gives me a headache and a general feeling of malaise all throughout the next day. This is something that has happened to me on the few occasions when I have had four or more Martinis.

                                                                                                                  This is why three is my limit. But I won't lie -- I do enjoy the buzz. I do know that I am legally over our state BAC limit of 0.08 after two Martinis, which is another reason why I choose to walk for my Martinis. For the same question you repeated again, please see #1 above.

                                                                                                                  3. I am not looking for a "cheap way to get drunk on clear liquor." If I did, I would order the cheapest gin in the entire bar. My father's favorite brand was Burnett's. If they carried that, I would order it.

                                                                                                                  I do not like to "shoot" any kind of liquor, and I don't usually drink vodka.

                                                                                                                  Nor am I looking for a "quick" buzz. I like to sip my Martinis slowly, and let my "buzz" gradually climb to a rising crescendo and climax. I usually take about 20 to 30 minutes to drink my first Martini as I waiting for and eating whatever appetizer I have ordered. I usually take twice as long to drink my second one, as I am slowly savoring each bite of my entree.

                                                                                                                  Sometimes I will order a third Martini, or a Manhattan, if I am in the mood for dessert. Sometimes the floor manager buys me one. On the average, the length of time I usually spend at the bar of one of my favorite restaurants is about an hour-and-a-half. By the way, I always eat at the bar.

                                                                                                                  4 -- In my particular neighborhood, with about 40 restaurants with full liquor licenses within a 2 mile radius, the free pour method rules. Many of our local bars only have one bartender on duty, who usually has a full load of 20 or more customers sitting at the bar, and who is also dealing with the drink orders from the other diners who are sitting down at their tables.

                                                                                                                  The free pour method takes a lot less time than the jigger measurement method. I don't have the heart to request that a bartender use the jigger method when he or she is being slammed with so many customers at the same time.

                                                                                                                  My one recent experience with a locar bar which did use the jigger method was unsatisfactory. Three of their Martinis hardly gave me a buzz. This bartender only used one jigger full of gin for each of my Martinis.

                                                                                                                  In contrast, the bar right across the street from this one uses the free pour method. There I usually have a nice buzz by the middle of my second Martini.

                                                                                                                  Why should I pay the same amout of money for three weak Martinis prepared with the jigger method, which barely give me a buzz, as for the Martinis prepared by the other bar and which give me a decent buzz before I finish my second one?

                                                                                                                  I do wish that our area was a little more sophisticated about Martinis. The typical bartender in my neighborhood is a young and pretty 20-something who probably doesn't even know what orange bitters are. One of them just turned 21 only a couple of months ago.

                                                                                                                  One of my favorite local bars is an exception. Orange bitters are always in stock, and they are usually used in their house Manhattan.

                                                                                                                  The next time I go there on a slow night, if the bar manager is present, I am going to ask her to make me a "classic" Martini, stirred instead of shaken, and with the orange bitters. I had planned to do this one night last week, but one of the young assistant bartenders was on duty, and she was slammed with customers.

                                                                                                                  Please rest assured that I am keeping an open mind about trying a classic Martini, stirred and not shaken, with orange bitters. I just have to find the right bar at the right moment. I might even have to venture over to one of the high end restaurants in downtown Norfolk in order to do so. This would mean taking a taxi to do so, but I would be willing to do exactly that, in order to satisfy my curiousity, and to hopefully raise my Martini appreciation to the next level.


                                                                                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                    I know this is sort've beating a dead thread, but...

                                                                                                                    I'm not really sure how to judge a drink by how buzzed I get. I judge drinks by how they taste, and to a large degree about how they showcase or recast the ingredients. The "jigger method" really only works if the bartender knows how to make a good martini. If they're pouring you 1.5 oz. of gin, no bitters, and no vermouth, then...yeah...I'll agree that in that case the "jigger method" fails. Furthermore, since it sounds like most of the bartenders in your area don't really know much about cocktails, they they are likely just guesstimating what a martini should be in the hopes it simply doesn't get sent back. And, to be fair, a high volume shots and beer place is almost certainly going to be free pouring due to the need for speed. I bartended in a dance club in the '90s where it was the same scene - granted, it was the '90s and very few places had seen a jigger in decades, but still...fruit flavored shooters and Bud Light bottles are not terribly exacting and the main thing people wanted was to be buzzed and not have to wait around very long for drinks.

                                                                                                                    The thing is, if I'm at a bar like that, I just don't order cocktails. In general, at most any bar, I don't order cocktails, and to some degree, making my own at home is the reason for this because it's been through making my own drinks using the right ratios, good recipes, and good ingredients that I've sort've stumbled into being a bit of as cocktail snob. I just don't trust most bartenders to be able to make good drinks, nor do I feel like I'm getting my money's worth when a three ingredient cocktail in DC can easily run $15. If I want a nice buzz, I can always pour a large glass of whiskey on ice, but in general, I enjoy cocktails for the timelessness of many of the classic recipes, and for the interesting ways they can use familiar ingredients to come up with new, and hopefully interesting and exciting flavors.

                                                                                                                    FWIW, my perfect Martini is:

                                                                                                                    2.5 oz. gin (preferably Boodles, Plymouth, or Brokers)
                                                                                                                    .75 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
                                                                                                                    2 dashes of orange bitters

                                                                                                                    Stir for about 40 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe, express a lemon peel over top, toss the peel and serve. It takes me a couple of minutes tops to put one together at home which, despite the drink's sophisticated image, actually makes it a supremely simple and easy drink to make. Also, my stir time is based on ice cubes from ice trays - smaller and less dense ice would require less stirring. One of those will likely not give you a buzz, but it will taste great and fully exemplify the sort of cool, sophisticated, pleasurable, and refreshing sensations a Martini should possess.

                                                                                                                    1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                      Greetings To The Big Crunch:

                                                                                                                      Many thanks for your latest commentary above, including your recipe for your "perfect Martini." I have jotted it down on an a piece of paper and stored it in my wallet. Hopefully, I will be able to present it to a local bartender soon and at an opportune time when he or she is not too busy.

                                                                                                                      Some of our local bars do stock Boodles, which is one of the gins you mentioned. Sometimes this brand is suggested to me if they have run out of Hendricks. When this happens, I usually ask for Bombay Sapphire.

                                                                                                                      The first brand of gin I ever tasted was Burnett's, which was my father's favorite brand. The first brand I started to buy on my own on a regular basis was Tanqueray, which I drank for many years. After that, I switched to Bombay Sapphire and drank that for many years.

                                                                                                                      It was only last year when I switched to Hendrick's. I find it smoother and more satisfying than either Bombay Sapphire or Hendrick;s. I can no longer tolerate Burnett's.

                                                                                                                      I will confess that I do tend to judge a Martini primarily on its ability to give me a buzz, with its taste being secondary. I don't expect a buzz after the first one, but I do expect one by the end of the second one. It is my sense that your "perfect Martini" would accomplish that nicely.

                                                                                                                      At that bar I complained about, where the bartender prepared each of my Martinis with the jigger method, he did only use one jigger full of gin and a small amount of vermouth. I am accustomed to a higher volume of gin in my Martinis than that.

                                                                                                                      By the way, this bar was also out of cucumbers when I ordered my Hendricks Gin martini at this bar. The bartender offered to make it with a small amout of St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur instead. I enjoyed the taste of it, but three of them simply did not give me the buzz that I usually get from two Martinis elsewhere, prepared with the free pour method.

                                                                                                                      The Ghent section of Norfolk has a unique overall demographic, consisting mostly of the young hipster crowd, students from Old Dominion University, and sailors. Beer is the most popular beverage, and the craft beer movement is very popular here. I am in the minority, both in my age and my preference for Martinis over beer and wine.

                                                                                                                      I've been doing a little bit of online reading on Martinis. I got a big kick out of the following article. I especially like their idea of only using a cap full of vermouth.


                                                                                                                      And also this one, which describes how Robert DeNiro likes his Martinis with those ice shards coming out on top as a result of extra shaking.


                                                                                                                      After reading these articles, I realized that none of the bars in my neighborhood have Martinis glasses that are already chilled. Instead, they are usually stacked on their glass shelves or hanging upside down from one of those glass racks. This confirms for me that there really is no true Martini bar in my Ghent Norfolk neighborhood.
                                                                                                                      However, there is a Martini bar opening soon in Virginia Beach.

                                                                                                                      I may ultimately have to go to downtown Norfolk or to that Martini bar in Virginia Beach in order to get your "perfect Martini" or a close approximation to it.

                                                                                                                      Thanks again for your commentary.


                                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                        Don't expect to get a real Martini at any place that calls or considers themselves a "martini bar." That's a sure sign of '90's style cocktails, the 2nd worst decade for cocktails in history. (The 80's was the worst.)

                                                                                                                        1. re: JMF


                                                                                                                          Thanks for the warning.

                                                                                                                          I can remember "Chocolate Martinis" becoming very popular in my area back in the 1990s.

                                                                                                                          That is one thing that I would never order. The very thought of it makes me nauseous.


                                                                                                                      2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                        The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                        The following is a link to the cocktail menu of one of my top two favorite bars and restaurants in my neighborhood:


                                                                                                                        You will notice that they do stock orange bitters, as shown by its presence in their "Bardohattan."

                                                                                                                        This is the bar in my neighborhood that I deem most likely to be capable of being able to prepare your "perfect Martini", if only I can get there at the right time, when their bar manager is on duty and when they are not being slammed with customers.


                                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                          That menu is fascinating in a perverted and disturbing way. Reading it is like watching a major cataclysm in slow motion. Sort of like those videos of the tsunami in Japan, people being washed away, homes destroyed, lives lost.

                                                                                                                          The great majority of their cocktails sound terrible, and use horrible ingredients and mediocre spirits, with no actual thought on balanced cocktails. Just a bunch of stuff thrown together.

                                                                                                                          It's like they are in the end of the 20th Century, trying to make it into the 21st, but caught in a twisted and inverted time paradox.

                                                                                                                          1. re: JMF



                                                                                                                            And to think that this is the only bar in my entire neighborhood in the Ghent section of Norfolk that emphasizes spirits over beer and wine.

                                                                                                                            The only cocktail I have tried from this menu is their Bardohattan, which I often pair with dessert when the mood strikes.

                                                                                                                            Just curious. How would you improve upon their Bardohattan?

                                                                                                                            In regard to their Vinoraga, which contains Bombay Sapphire East, I was the one who first suggested that they start stocking this particular brand of gin a year ago. However, I will admit that I don't like the sound of the red wine syrup that is included in this particular drink.

                                                                                                                            When it comes to specialty cocktails in my neighborhood, this is really the best we have to offer.


                                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                              I think the Vinoraga could work. In theory, I'd leave out the simple syrup and make a wine syrup out of something really fruity like a Beaujolais. Maybe sub in soda water over the tonic and garnish with fresh berries and it might be a nice warm weather riff on a Tom Collins.

                                                                                                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                Without knowing the actual recipes it is very difficult to comment on improving the drinks.

                                                                                                                                Like the Big Crunch said, not ginger puree, or syrup. Domaine de Canton liqueur, or a few drops of fresh ginger juice.

                                                                                                                                But I probably wouldn't use ginger with Dolin vermouth since even a small amount would overpower it. Maybe if it was Rittenhouse rye and Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth. Also depends on how good their homemade orange bitters are. Looking at the cocktail menu... I honestly don't have much hope for them.

                                                                                                                              2. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                I admit that I'm not a fan of fusion cooking as it is not easy to pull it off. The drink menu and the food menu both sound like fusion for the sake of marketing fusion. I would guess that there are some good things on both menus but the campy overload would keep me away from here.
                                                                                                                                It is rated highly on Trip Advisor. One review states "Best tapis in town".

                                                                                                                                1. re: collardman

                                                                                                                                  Hello collardman,

                                                                                                                                  Whenever I go there, I always start off with their Yaki-Soba Noodles under their Level I menu. I usually get some shrimp added to it for an extra $2 and pair this appetizer with my first Martini.

                                                                                                                                  For my entree, I usually get a fresh seafood special if they have one. If not, my "default" dish is their Wagyu Beef Carpaccio from their Level II menu, paired with their Wasabi Mashed Potatoes from their Level III menu. It is here is where I enjoy my second Martini.

                                                                                                                                  If I order a dessert from their Level IV menu, I usually get their Creme Brulee Duet, the flavors of which can change from day to day. When I get this, I always pair it with a Bardohattan.

                                                                                                                                  For those who are curious, here is their food menu:


                                                                                                                                  With respect to the food only, this is my second most favorite restaurant in the Ghent Norfolk area.


                                                                                                                              3. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                Forgive me. Please don't take this the wrong way, but when I am confronted with a cocktail menu such as this, I usually order beer.

                                                                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                  I will say this about the cocktail list - they sure are cheap! As awful as most of those drinks look, that same list wouldn't have a drink priced less than $10 in DC. A few are somewhat promising. Ginger might work well in a Manhattan, though I don't think I'd use ginger puree; perhaps ginger-infused orange bitters, or a rinse of Domaine de Canton? The Sacca Sour also might be promising - basically a rye fizz with quinquina. The Ashrama could be saved by getting rid of the sriracha and spicy pepper rim, using a better tequila, and adding a dash of orange bitters, maybe something more sweet and fruit forward like Fee Brothers. That said, the amount of drinks specifically citing Bacardi is disturbing, as are many other aspects.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                    Greetings To The Big Crunch:

                                                                                                                                    Do you live and work in the DC area?

                                                                                                                                    If so, then you know that you are not too far away from Norfolk.

                                                                                                                                    How much would you charge the owner of this restaurant to hire you as their bar consultant and completely revamp their cocktail operation? This would include coming to Norfolk and retraining their bartenders as well.

                                                                                                                                    The owner also owns three other restaurants in the area with one more opening in a few weeks. It wouldn't surprise me if he met your price.

                                                                                                                                    Then again, most people in this area probably wouldn't notice the difference with the changes you made. Most of us are simply not accustomed to fine cocktails prepared with the level of quality you describe.


                                                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                      I'd charge no less than $100,000....with another $100,000 as a retainer :)

                                                                                                                                      I haven't been to Norfolk in over a decade and all I really recall about the place is that there were a lot of very big ships. Funny thing about it is that I have no idea why I was going through there. Maybe it was on the way to Virginia Beach?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                        that's a question you should be asking me. Have barkit, will travel...

                                                                                                                                    2. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                      Hello zin1953,

                                                                                                                                      That wouldn't work for me, as I no longer like beer.

                                                                                                                                      Bartenders are constantly asking me to taste this craft beer, that craft beer, etc., and I do so to oblige them, But none of them taste good to me. They all leave a bad taste in my mouth.


                                                                                                                                      1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                        >>> That wouldn't work for me, as I no longer like beer. <<<

                                                                                                                                        Yes, well, I prefer wine to beer, but that cocktail list doesn't make me feel confident about their BTG selection, either. Perhaps just some Rye or Bourbon with a couple of ice cubes or -- in summer months -- a Gin & Tonic. (I guarantee their G&T won't hold a candle to the gintonica I have in Spain, but it's also not very easy to screw up your basic American G&T. Possible, true, but not easy.)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                          Except for the bars that use fountain tonic water. It's still drinkable, but inferior to decent tonic. Even schweppes if it's from a recently opened bottle is way better than the fountain stuff.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: TroyTempest


                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                              And then there are folks like me who just find all tonic water to be terribly unpleasant ;)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                                I do not like tonic either, so I am with you on that

                                                                                                                                                I also thought looking at the menu the Vinoraga could be redeemable, the rest of the menu should be thrown away

                                                                                                                                                Beer is the way to go with that cocktail menu, not sure why they have sake at the bottom of the menu and even then most of the sake is american sake?

                                                                                                                                        2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                          I have been following this thread mostly due to the Ghent references. I miss the place. (are the public clay tennis courts still there?)
                                                                                                                                          I find that old school Barkeeps that know the Pre-90s bar menu can usually be trusted to make a 2 or 3 ingredient cocktail by free pour. Younger ones, not so much. Todays cocktails often require several steps and layers of ingredients that call for carefull measurement. I don't care as long as drink is balanced.

                                                                                                                                          My martini however must include at least 1/4 vermouth. Gin on its own is pretty foul.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: budnball

                                                                                                                                            Hello budnball,

                                                                                                                                            I can't think of or picture any public clay tennis courts located actually within the bounaries of what is now designated as the Ghent area. However, I believe the ones located across Old Dominion University are still there.

                                                                                                                                            If you are familiar with the Ghent area, then you probably remember Colley Avenue. I live right off Colley Avenue. Walking along Colley Avenue in the evening can be a beautiful and festive experience, highlighted by the sight of beautiful historic old buildings and the street musicians who are playing outside.

                                                                                                                                            It is here where most of our neighborhood restaurants and bars are located, with most of the others located on or about 21st Street.

                                                                                                                                            Ghent does not seem to have any "old school Barkeeps." At least, I can't think of one. Most of our local bartenders are under 30 years of age. One of them just turned 21 a couple of months ago and is majoring in fashion merchandising from Old Dominion University.

                                                                                                                                            If I have to live in Norfolk, I wouldn't live anywhere else. It is probably the only section of Norfolk where I feel safe walking at night.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                              My memory of Ghent is from 1980-82. I lived in a tiny apt behind a high school and would walk to the Naro which did double bills of "art films" old films and foreign films. I saw To Catch a Thief there the night of Grace Kelly's death which was too weird since it had been scheduled at least 2 months before. I was in Navy then and not much of a drinker, so I don't remember the bar scene. Ghent was a charmer even then.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: budnball

                                                                                                                                                Hello budnball,

                                                                                                                                                It sounds like you lived in an apartment behind Maury High School, which is off Colonial Avenue.

                                                                                                                                                You will be interested to learn that the Naro is still there and going strong, showing lots of independent films. Most of the street musicians in Ghent play right in front of the Naro.

                                                                                                                                                I'm trying to think of the names of some of the restaurants that were in Ghent from 1980 to 1982.

                                                                                                                                                There was Cogan's on Colonial Avenue, which is still there. On Colley Avenue, which is also where the Naro is located, I believe there was Elliott's and also the Intermission, whose spaces now house entirely different restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                Dan's Hideway is another one that comes to mind. Maybe Kelly's Tavern. Maybe the Do Nut Dinette.

                                                                                                                                                Further down Colley Avenue, the Red Mule Inn was a popular spot for listening to folk music around that time.

                                                                                                                                                Either the Potpourri or Master's was located at the intersection of Colley Avenue and Princess Anne Road.

                                                                                                                                                Maybe Charlie's Cafe, located on Granby Street behind Maury High School. It's still there.

                                                                                                                                                Do any of those names ring a bell?


                                                                                                                                      2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                        Choosing from the cocktails on that menu, I'd definitely order a beer.

                                                                                                                                2. I like free pour. Or the bartender who fills the jigger and lets it overflow into the glass. Something to show me the company is not just a bunch of tight asses.

                                                                                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: genoO

                                                                                                                                    Hello geneO,

                                                                                                                                    Right on!

                                                                                                                                    That's exactly how I feel.

                                                                                                                                    I also enjoy the watching the artistry of a bartender free pouring a number of drinks in rapid succession.

                                                                                                                                    Watching a bartender use the jigger method with so much exactitude makes me feel like I am in a chemistry lab.

                                                                                                                                    On the other hand, I am willing to give some of these precisely measured cocktails a try.


                                                                                                                                    1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                      >>> I also enjoy the watching the artistry of a bartender free pouring a number of drinks in rapid succession. Watching a bartender use the jigger method with so much exactitude makes me feel like I am in a chemistry lab. <<<

                                                                                                                                      PP, I *do* understand where you're coming from. I understand the concept of *watching* the artistry, but -- and here's where you lose me -- I would rather TASTE the artistry.


                                                                                                                                      Three bars. Three bartenders. Same cocktail. Two measure, one "free pours." All THREE cocktails will taste different from one another.

                                                                                                                                      Measuring doesn't make individuality disappear. Indeed, it lets creativity shine as each bartender puts their own spin on that recipe -- whether it's the choice of spirit (e.g.: No. 209 Gin for that Martini versus Beefeater¹; Rittenhouse Bonded Rye versus Old Overholt in that Vieux Carré), in that choice of bitters (Fee Brothers versus Scrappy's; Peychaud's versus Angostoura; etc., etc.), garnish (mint leaf or basil; lemon zest, orange or perhaps tangerine?), etc., etc., etc.

                                                                                                                                      >>> On the other hand, I am willing to give some of these precisely measured cocktails a try. <<<

                                                                                                                                      I seriously, honestly, genuinely applaud your open-mind. You may not be able to try the sort of cocktail that JMF (and I) are talking about without going to DC, or perhaps Richmond, but I *do* urge you to try them. There is far more to the world than merely 11:1 Martinis . . . .

                                                                                                                                      ¹ I am not speaking of call drinks versus well, but rather when a "craft" bar has a specific cocktail menu, why is it that the chief bartender opts to choose *this* gin for that cocktail, rather than any of the other dozens and dozens of gins available?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                        Hello zin1953,

                                                                                                                                        Many thanks for your comments above. I have no arguments to put forth against them.

                                                                                                                                        It appears that I happen to live in an area in which the type and quality of the complex cocktails that you and others have spoken of are not available.

                                                                                                                                        If that cocktail menu I posted is as bad as you all say it is, which is still the best one I have seen in this area, then I am probably better off drinking those stiff Martinis as long as I am living here.

                                                                                                                                        I didn't realize that there was so much artistry and complexity to the actual taste of various cocktails.

                                                                                                                                        Trust me when I say that if you or JMF ran a bar in my neighborhood, I would become one of your regulars.

                                                                                                                                        By the way, I went to a bar a few nights ago where the bartender fixed me a Hendricks Gin Martini with a 12-count pour. I saw it with my very own eyes and counted.

                                                                                                                                        This one was TOO strong. This must have been one of those bars where I gave a very generous tip before.

                                                                                                                                        I don't think I can handle too many more of these in my advancing old age. This is all the more reason to seek out and gravitate to the type of cocktails you have mentioned.


                                                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                          PP- here's a video of one of my favorite Boston bartenders making a craft cocktail. This is the type of thing that we are taking about. Interesting ingredients that go together, put together with care (and measured!).


                                                                                                                                          1. re: kimfair1

                                                                                                                                            That looks fantastic! I will be making that tonight, though I'll be subbing in Espolon for the the Dulce Vida tequila.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                        I don't find much artistry in free pouring a bunch of drinks in rapid succession. That was the sort of thing I did when I bartended in a high volume dance club with a low premium on the taste of what was being poured and a high premium on getting drunk off of it. It's an assembly line mentality, trying to get booze to people as fast as possible so they don't have to wait...because the longer they wait, the more impatient they become, and the more impatient they become, the higher the likelihood of receiving little to no tip money.

                                                                                                                                        If someone is using a jigger for exact pours, then they are often trying to dial in a specific flavor in a drink, which is far more artistic than slopping booze in a glass as fast as possible so that you can get a minute or two when you're out of the weeds and able to catch your breath.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                          The Big Crunch,

                                                                                                                                          I hear and understand what you are saying.

                                                                                                                                          It just so happens that the vast majority of the bars in my neighborhood are high volume operations, where the free pour rules, and with the type of atmosphere and climate you have described above.

                                                                                                                                          The Martinis I recently had at that one and only bar in my neighborhood, where the jigger method was used, were the weakest (with respect to alcohol content) I have had in years.

                                                                                                                                          This is what soured me on the jigger method, at least in the manner it was used at this particular bar. Why go there when I can get that 12-count pour Martini at another bar only a five minute walk away, and at the same price?

                                                                                                                                          I really do wish there was a bar in my neighborhood which specialized in the type of complex cocktails that you and others have described.


                                                                                                                                          1. re: PontiusPalate


                                                                                                                                            On the one hand, you wrote:
                                                                                                                                            >>> I went to a bar a few nights ago where the bartender fixed me a Hendricks Gin Martini with a 12-count pour. I saw it with my very own eyes and counted. This one was TOO strong. <<<

                                                                                                                                            In your next post, you wrote:
                                                                                                                                            >>> Why go there when I can get that 12-count pour Martini at another bar only a five minute walk away, and at the same price? <<<

                                                                                                                                            Well, either the "12-count pour" was too strong (and, as such, *not* a good Martini), or the "12-count pour" was a *great* deal and you'll never go anywhere else. Which is it?

                                                                                                                                            Even with a "simple" cocktail -- Scotch & Soda, or your 2-ingredient Martini -- is all about balance. Too much whisky and not enough soda, and the drink is so strong as to be harsh and "unpalatable" (as in, why not drink the whisky neat?); too much soda and not enough whisky, and it's way too watery, like drinking fizzy water. Too much vermouth in your Martini, and you would hate it! Too much gin in your Martini and it was way "TOO strong" (in your own words).

                                                                                                                                            In other words, as Goldilocks suggested, balance in all things.

                                                                                                                                            Now, imagine a more complex drink -- even if it's just three or four ingredients, and relatively simple as multi-ingredient drinks are concerns (think Sazerac, for example). Without balance, the flavors, textures, aromas or the drink are "off."

                                                                                                                                            So, sure, if you are walking to the bar to get buzzed, that 12-count Martini is the best deal in town! But if you're walking to the bar because you want a great cocktail, that ain't it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                              Hello zin1953,

                                                                                                                                              To answer your question, I guess I consider the 12-count Martini to be the lesser of two evils.

                                                                                                                                              It wasn't too strong to me taste wise, but it did prove to be too strong with respect to how I felt the next morning after drinking two of them and then a Manhattan afterwards.

                                                                                                                                              Next time I am going to exercise some restraint and skip the Manhattan.

                                                                                                                                              You wrote:

                                                                                                                                              >>So, sure, if you are walking to the bar to get buzzed, that 12-count Martini is the best deal in town! But if you're walking to the bar because you want a great cocktail, that ain't it.<<

                                                                                                                                              I agree. I also agree with what you have said about the importance of "balance."

                                                                                                                                              Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there are any really great cocktails being prepared in any of my neighborhood bars, at least not by the standards that you and others go by.

                                                                                                                                              But I will keep looking.

                                                                                                                                              In the meantime, if given a choice between a Martini prepared with one jigger of gin, and a 12-count Martini as I described, both for the same price, the 12-count Martini wins hands down.


                                                                                                                                              1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                You never did respond to what amount that "one jigger of gin" was. Historically the measurement "jigger" was 1.5 oz. But the tool called a jigger can be 0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.5, or 2 oz.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                  Hello JMF,

                                                                                                                                                  To be honest, I don't know. I didn't ask. Whatever it was, it was not very much. If I had to guess, I would say 1.5 ounces.

                                                                                                                                                  I will ask the next time I go. I want to go at least one more time, so that I can write a Yelp review.

                                                                                                                                                  Right now they have three stars (out of five) going in, with all things considered, including the food.


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                                    As an addendum:

                                                                                                                                                    I am not accustomed to watching local bartenders use jiggers to measure their drinks.

                                                                                                                                                    Consequently, I have never learned to identify the measurement sizes of the different jiggers by sight.

                                                                                                                                                    That's why I don't know for sure how large a jigger was used to prepare my Martinis at this one particular bar.


                                                                                                                                      3. re: genoO

                                                                                                                                        Geno, I am not trying to change your opinion -- after all, everyone is entitled to have one -- but do you mind if I ask a question? What is your "go to" cocktail (if you have one)? What cocktail do you most often make/request?

                                                                                                                                        The reason I'm asking has to do with what this entire thread is about.

                                                                                                                                        I have no problem with a "free pour" if it's free; the bartender can buy me a drink anytime he/she want to! (Oh, wait. Different "free pour." Reboot.)

                                                                                                                                        I have no problem with a "free pour" if we're talking (e.g.) "Scotch & Soda," "Gin & Tonic," or even a (true) Martini. But the more complicated the cocktail (as opposed to, say, "drink"), the more the artistry demands measured pours. Just as with wine, balance is everything.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                                                          If you're going 2:1 in the Martini then I can see a free pour being accurate a decent amount of the time, but for more unusual (and IMO, better) ratios, I don't trust it. Free pouring .75 ounces is not something most bartenders can do.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                                                                                                            With a good pour spout, like the Spill-Stop 285-50, a free pour with a three count is .75 oz. A WELL trained and constantly practicing bartender can do this easily.

                                                                                                                                            But how many bartenders have only these pour spouts, the most accurate, and practice their pouring skills and get tested?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                              In an odd irony, I'm related by marriage to Fritz Katsky, the inventor of the Spill Stop, which I fondly pronounce with a German accent as "Schpill Schtop".

                                                                                                                                              1. re: EvergreenDan


                                                                                                                                      4. Well, how about that!

                                                                                                                                        I have just received an invitation to attend a "Handcrafted Cocktail Dinner" at our local Ruth's Chris Steak House.


                                                                                                                                        However, I am not a fan of Ruth's Chris, and none of the cocktails described inspire me.


                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: PontiusPalate

                                                                                                                                          The only thing I can say about that menu is, how is it a handcrafted cocktail dinner when it is being given at dozens of their places across the country.

                                                                                                                                          Otherwise, about the website background. Nice copper bar tools from CocktailKingdom.com. I have the same ones. Actually I have their full copper lineup.