Published: 07/04/2020 By The Abode TeamMany of you will be using technology to connect with family and friends and as well as just having a chat it's also an idea to have dinner parties from a distance and cocktail parties too. So enjoy a Quarantini but always drink sensibly of course!
The classic martini is one of the most iconic cocktails in history. On paper it’s a simple double act of spirit and vermouth, however when you delve a little deeper it’s anything but straightforward. Wet or dry? Shaken or stirred? What does it all mean, and how do you make the best martini?
What is a martini?
The basic building blocks of a martini cocktail are spirit (gin or vodka) and vermouth, which is a fortified wine flavoured with botanicals. The original martini was made with gin, which is why Mr Bond always specifies a ‘vodka martini’ in his order. Both gin and vodka martinis are equally delicious, but you’ll find vodka variants more clean, neutral and less botanical. Whichever you use, make sure that your spirit has an ABV of 40% or higher so that its characteristics shine thorough in your finished martini.
Once you’ve chosen your spirit, it’s on to the vermouth. There are many different brands of vermouth, and it’s the dry variation you’re looking for to make a classic martini. Some are drier than others and some bring a more floral or fruity flavour to the final cocktail. Trial and error is the best way to decide what to use.
Some classic cocktail books talk about 'French' and 'Italian' vermouth, which can be a little confusing, however French refers to dry vermouths, whereas Italian refers to sweet. You can use a sweet vermouth for a martini, but modern versions are always made with dry vermouth unless specified.
The next decision is whether you want your martini ‘dry’ or ‘wet’. This relates to the proportion of spirit to vermouth. Trends over the years have seen the martini become drier and drier as less vermouth is used; however, a wet martini can be the perfect beginner's choice – vermouths have a lower ABV than the spirits used so it can help to soften the ‘edges’ of the final cocktail.
A 6:1 martini (6 parts spirit to 1 part vermouth) is a good place to start. Don’t be afraid to play around with the proportions until you find your perfect ratio, though.
Shaken or stirred?
Never has a literary reference caused so much confusion than James Bond’s order of his vodka martini ‘shaken, not stirred’. To clarify: any martini can be made shaken OR stirred. There will be clear differences between the two, but both are tasty drinks, and let’s face it, that’s all that matters.
If a martini has been shaken, the liquid will have been thrown around a little more and be slightly cloudy, more aerated, and is likely to contain ice shards if it hasn’t been double strained through a sieve. You’re also going to need a cocktail shaker to make it, whereas any jar, vessel or tin can be used to make a stirred martini, you just need enough room for plenty of ice and a knife, chopstick or bar spoon.
Stirring a martini gives you control over the drink, you can see, feel and hear what's happening, and with one hand on your mixing glass or tin, you know when it's reached the perfect temperature.”
This is an important note to make when you’re making your first martinis and getting the hang of how all of the elements fit together. By stirring you can test your drink frequently, whereas when you shake it’s a bit of a leap of faith as to knowing when it’s ready and you risk over-diluting the drink.
The chill factor
There are two key things when it comes to making sure that your martini is just right for serving. The first is the temperature, the second is the dilution.
Your ice should be taken fresh from the freezer, and ‘dry’, which affords you plenty of time to stir down your martini; wet, melting ice will dilute your martini rapidly and it may risk over dilution.
Always make sure your martini glass is chilled, by either storing it in the freezer or by filling it with ice while you’re stirring your drink. Another top tip: when there is no hurry put the whole drink in the freezer for five minutes. Remember the chief objective - as cold as possible!
Finally, you need to decide how to garnish your martini. Depending on the gin you’ve used, you may want to add citrus, olives or take inspiration from one of the botanicals from the base spirit. In all martinis, you're looking to complement your spirit with your garnish rather than overpower. Never is this more important than with citrus. Gin and vodka are perfect partners for citrus, the oils brightening the spirits, adding freshness and zing. To achieve this you’re going to need to hold your citrus peel skin side down over your martini and squeeze gently over the glass.
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