Ah, the Martini.
“Ah,” is actually what you should say after taking the first sip of your classic Martini.
Ah, the refreshing botanicals of gin combined with the mellifluous spice of bitters and just a whisper of dry vermouth…heaven. Now, unlike in the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, the Martini is where Embitterment takes a decidedly liberal stance on what counts and what’s tasty. To explain why, we’ll examine a few taste-related points of contention.
Dry or Wet?
When mastering the martini, one of the first things you have to figure out is what ratio of gin to dry vermouth tastes good to you. If you put too little vermouth in the Martini, it will taste like you’re drinking straight gin, and if you put too much, it can take on an overly-savory/weirdly acidic taste that takes the refreshment right out of the cocktail. The best way to figure out where on the spectrum you fall is to experiment, and to know thyself.
Type and Brand of Gin
When it comes to gin, every brand has its own secret “formula” of botanicals that will interact with the other ingredients in the drink. Some gins are great in Martinis, some in G&Ts, and some in combination with other liqueurs. Some boast a lot of citrus or juniper berry notes, and some are cleaner-tasting. If you want to bring your martini to the next level, be mindful of how the taste of the gin will interact with the bitters, and modify the levels of bitters and vermouth in the drink according to what you think will taste best. If you miss the mark, what’s the worst that can happen? You get to try again? Boo-hoo, looks like we’re making another martini.
Because martinis are such simple, delicate drinks, there’s a lot of room to let the bitters strut their stuff. Instead of sticking with couple dashes of aromatic bitters, why not branch out to orange, or lavender, or something even more exotic, like chocolate? Martinis are actually a great testing ground for any new bitters you pick up, so don’t be afraid to experiment!
Okay, so we know that’s a lot to throw at you, but don’t let that discourage you. The best way to figure out what works best for you is to experiment, or to have someone who knows your tastes make you what they envision would be your ideal Gin Martini. Below, we’ve put together a recipe for what we believe is a pretty good place to start your tasting experiments.
Embitterment Gin Martini
-2 oz gin (We like Greenhat Gin from New Columbia Distillers…or your classic Bombay Sapphire or Henrick’s)
-1/2 oz dry vermouth (Dolin’s is exquisite) [This would be a 4:1 Gin:Dry Vermouth ratio]
-2 dashes of Embitterment Orange Bitters
-Fresh lemon peel
- Chill your highball glass in the freezer, or by filling it with ice and ice water before making the drink.
- Combine the gin, dry vermouth, and bitters in a frozen mixing pint glass, and stir gently–otherwise, your cocktail will turn cloudy (see note).
- After about 30 seconds of stirring, strain the drink into your chilled martini glass.
- Gently squeeze a trimmed slice of lemon peel (called a “lemon twist”) over the top of the drink and use as a garnish.
***NOTE: When James Bond says he wants his Martini “shaken, not stirred” he wants it to be cloudy. He’s a man of mystery and intrigue, after all, but take our word when we say the drink comes out prettier when stirred gently.