Part 3 of 3
The Classic Dry Martini
I’ve saved the best for last.
At its best, a true martini is a stroke of genius, a work of art, and a steamtrain to Betty Ford. The martini turned Dick Van Dyke into an alcoholic, and it’ll work its magic on you too if you’re not careful.
Over the past few years the term ‘martini’ has mutated to the point where most people (and bartenders) nearly always assume that vodka’s involved. This is a vulgar and offensive notion, but it seems there’s no stopping it.
For decades after its American birth in the early 1900s, the martini was a gin-only celebration of life, love, and the lampshade-as-hat.
To enjoy a martini you’ll really, really need to like gin. There’s no getting around it. If you only casually enjoy gin you’ll probably want to save the martini for really important special occasions- a death in the family, discovery of cancer, terrorist attack, loss of job, etc.
The classic dry martini doesn’t take much. You’ll need a good-quality gin, dry vermouth, and some big green olives. You can buy ‘martini olives’ that are marinated in vermouth, but I’ve found that it doesn’t really make a difference.
Skewer two or three olives on a toothpick or garnish-skewer-thing and drop them in a cocktail glass like so.
Set the glass aside and fill a shaker with whole ice cubes.
You’re in my world now, grandma.
What makes a martini so very good is the interaction between the gin and vermouth, so getting the mix right is the most important thing you can do.
I prefer a strict 5:1 ratio of gin to vermouth, so I use a shot glass to measure. (A full shot glass is 2oz). Dump two and a half full shots of gin into the shaker, and follow it with a half-shot of vermouth.
Most martini recipes I’ve found specifically reference the 5:1 ratio, so I’m pretty sure that’s the ‘proper’ mix, but people can be very particular about the amount of vermouth they use!
Some people will just coat the glass in vermouth and dump it down the drain before adding gin. Some people will spray a fine mist of vermouth into their drink. Some people just will stare at a glass of gin, get really close to the surface, and shout “VERMOUTH!” at the top of their lungs. Gin makes you crazy.
Shake vigorously until the outside of your stainless steel shaker is frosted-over. Motion blur makes any picture better.
Strain into your cocktail glass. If you did it right, things should look cloudy.
And there we go. I hope you cleared your schedule for the night.
The six-ounce drink we just made is a bit larger than what most bars and restaurants will serve you, so take it easy, ok? I don’t want your blood on my hands.
In a world of appletinis, lemon drops, cosmopolitans, and other concoctions designed to make hard alcohol more palatable, a dry martini is a rare and curious flower – a diamond in the rough. It’s admired by many and appreciated by few. Order one of these and you’ll impress some friends and disgust the rest.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part series. Gin is a sweet lady, but you have to treat her right if you want her to treat YOU right.
Now go out tonight and show ’em that Cinco De Mayo isn’t just about Tequila and Corona!