Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Martini

I love Winston Churchill. Anyone that can make retorts like him while absolutely shitface deserves my respect. The fact that he did it with a cigar in his mouth, a drink in his hand, and typically during official dinners with important guests and envoys...well...he's kinda my hero. I had the opportunity to visit the Churchill Bunker in London and it was a magical event. It did, however, take a significant amount of willpower not to steal his greatcoat, put it on, and steal one of the cigars (yeah, the cigars that he actually smoked, way back in the day) from the display and have a grand old party. They probably would have shot me but what a way to go. There is one thing about Churchill I don't agree with. His recipe for a martini. It goes as such:

Step 1: Pour gin into shaker of ice
Step 2: Stir
Step 3: Pour into chilled martini glass
Step 4: Garnish with olive
Step 5: Look at bottle of vermouth and consume

I love the man with my heart and soul but I gotta disagree. While I DO agree that the wrong combination of gin and vermouth makes a travesty of alcoholic beverage, the proper combination is close to the nectar of the gods. It should be EVERYONE'S goal to find a martini ratio that they enjoy and it should take some research. Deliciously scientific research. I have, finally, come to the recipe that fits me best and I feel its high time to share it with you fine folks. So, here it is:


Step 1: Start with quality products. Buying shitting gin and shitty vermouth is not the way you want to go about this. The martini is deceptively simple despite the steps and debate surrounding it and has absolutely nothing to cover up the flaws in the alcohol, so buy decent stuff otherwise it will be like drinking turpentine. I used Martini and Rossi dry white vermouth and Bombay Sapphire gin. I typically use Hendrick's gin for my martinis but I wasn't feeling dropping 30 large on a 750 of gin. This whole setup ran me $20, $21 including premium olives.

Step 2: Start with a Boston shaker filled with clean ice. Clean ice is so goddamn important its not even funny. My ice smelled like French cheese so the martini here isn't so hot. Remember, there's NOTHING TO COVER OFF FLAVORS so get it goddamn right.

Step 3: Use this much gin. I originally did this by just eyeballing amounts into the little cap to the Boston shaker. I -literally- just translated it into an actual amount using a shot glass. It's about 1.25 shots. This is 1.875 oz. Or you could just go with 2oz. and make it college strength.

Step 4: Use this much vermouth. As before, this translates to about a half a shot, or .75 oz. I recommend going to 3/4th of a shot, or 1.125 oz. Like I said, I'm eyeballing this. I know I got it wrong because I remember the taste that I love and this is a touch too dry for me. Yeah, I know. I like a slightly wet martini. Fuck you. James Bond would approve. How many 21 year old guys actually drink proper martinis? Who has two thumbs and drinks martinis? This fucking guy, right here.

Oh! Also. If you use vodka and call it a martini, I will punch you in the throat. It's called a "vodka martini", not a martini. Get it right.

Step 5: Shake vertically three times. Yeah, that's right, shake. As a chemical engineer, all the people that talk about "bruising" a gin piss me off. I will elaborate. When gin is made, there is a direct infusion of essential oils from the botanical stuff straight into the gin. In case you hadn't noticed, ever mix fat and alcohol? They don't go well together. You shake the shit out of it to get an emulsion but eventually it separates out. This same thing happens in gin, you just can't see it. It's chemistry. As they say, "like dissolves like". Polar chemicals (like water), dissolve polar chemicals (like salt). Non-polar items (like fat) dissolve non-polar items (like fat). That's why you can mix butter and oil when you cook and it doesn't look like the parking lot of Wal-mart after a light rain. Thus, the people that say that shaking a gin will "bruise" the gin and mute the botanical essences are full of shit. It's already doing that. But it gets even worse. Remember how a martini is served cold? Even worse! What little dissolution that happens eventually becomes nil because you cool the shit out of the liquid mixture. If you've ever tried to put sugar in cold tea, then you know what I'm talking about. On a molecular level, the essential oils are already going in and out of solution in a steady-state (meaning that no matter how long you wait, the composition won't change). When you chill it, a lot more falls out of solution. I shake because its the best way to get an emulsion between the oils that are coming in and out of solution. Stirring just won't cut it. So if you're intent on only stirring to prevent "bruising"...fuck you. If you just like it stirred then you're cool in my book.

Step 6: Pour into a chilled martini glass. My glass is actually plastic that I soaked in cold-water for about 5 minutes. Yeah, again, fuck you. I'd end up breaking an actual glass one. I'm really clumsy.

Step 7: Insert oil-cured, feta-stuffed olive (on toothpick), into martini.

Step 8: Swirl with toothpick and slide drink down throat.

There you have it, my perfect martini. While it may not be your favorite, I STRONGLY urge you to pick out some quality gin/vermouth and find the ratio that you like. Never, and I repeat, never try ordering a martini in a restaurant after you find your holy ratio. It will never consistently be what you want. This is why you pre-game in your house with friends on good martinis BEFORE going to the bar. But drive safe. Or I will kill you.

Side note: That martini was pretty good. Probably should have eaten something first though.

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