Shaken, Not Stirred
I've been asked recently, and often over the years ... what is a Martini? The word itself has this legendary connotation of swanky ballrooms with guys and gals walking around saying "Shaken, not sirred" "righteous daddy-o" and other campy phrases. I think that as a man, there are several drinks we should know how to make from memory. Not just because they are alcohol and we love the booze, but so we can take care of people when the time arises. Not to mention the fact that we look cool doing it. In list list I include martinis, margaritas, bloody marys, and a rum & coke.
There's a great page on Food Network dot com right now all about a Martini party. Go there now to check out some great recipes, party tips and some cool video of a bartender pouring seven different martinis all at once. Pretty neat stuff.
A Martini is generally defined as a drink made of 3 oz. of gin, a splash of vermouth, and sometimes an olive served chilled in a martini glass. Nowadays, there are about as many variations on the martini as there are beers in the world.
As a former bartender, my personal opinion is that a martini is made from gin, and anything else is not to be called a martini. With the popularity of gourmet vodkas right now, the "Vodka" martini is very popular. So, I can't discount the use of Vodka in a martini. Besides, what would James Bond say?
Here is a basic recipe for a martini:
3 oz. Gin
In a shaker, add a handful or two of crushed ice. Add the gin and vermouth. Shake or stir, then strain the liquid into a martini glass. Skewer two olives on a toothpick or one of those nifty swords and place it in the drink. Serve.
Simple as that. Of course, there are many variations on this theme.If you order a dirty martini, it means you get some of the olive juice poured into the glass in addtion to the olives. If you order a dry martini, you get all the gin with just a few drops of vermouth. If you order an extra dry martini, you get all the gin and zero vermouth. True Martini conniseurs will tell that a true martini has no vermouth whatsoever. In fact, some of the hardcore fans will yell at you if you even touch the vermouth bottle.
The whole old-school martini culture has an entire set of rules and regulations when it comes to martini creation. Some of the most intense fanatics say that you should never mix a martini in a metal shaker because you can actually taste the metal in the gin. Some say that you should never shake a martini, rather you should stir it. And if you are an anti-metal shaker martini drinker, this means the bartender can never use a metal stir stick to stir the drink.
Personally, I do not drink Martinis, except for the Texas Martini, which has Tequila instead of gin. And by my aforementioned logic, it is not a martini at all. I think the gin is one of the most foul of all liqours, and I could never understand the culture of wanting to drink it straight up.
So have fun and impress you friends. Even if you don't like to drink them, you should learn how to make them. I like to classify martinis in a group called "panty-droppers." I leave it to you to figure that one out.