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martini madness



Ask for a martini in just about any bar, and chances are the bartender will just look at you. Think of it as the hard-liquor equivalent of ordering “a beer.”

It is one of the greatest American contributions to the cocktail world, but in this age of ‘tini-centric libations, the martini is no longer a specific drink with a specific recipe; it’s an entire genre. In fact, the word “martini” has come to specify the glass a drink is served in more than the drink itself.

The number of martini spinoffs making their way onto bar menus is overwhelming.

So, you see, the bartender is going to need you to be a little more specific: Vodka or the traditional gin? Dirty or dry? Shaken or stirred?

Jim Oboyski, general manager of Sullivan’s Steakhouse, 1785 E. River Road, said his staff washes more martini glasses than any other glassware.

“Its not that the martini is particularly fun; it’s the glass it comes in,” Oboyski says.

It seems now that any hard-liquor concoction can have “tini” slapped on the end of its name if it’s served in that swanky, conical, stemmed glass. But be careful, folks: A martini glass does not a true martini make.

The original martini is a mixture of gin and vermouth, usually garnished with an olive. Martinis became popular during Prohibition because gin was relatively easy to make in a bathtub. But today, appletinis, vodka martinis and chocolatinis are challenging the classic recipe’s status as the only true libation worthy of the martini moniker.

Even the classic drink, once made famous by such classic figures as Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, Mae West, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy, is evolving. Bars have moved away from using vermouth at all as customers show a preference for specific brands of gin or vodka served straight up, says Oboyski.

“Nowadays, the classic martini is more name-brand oriented,” he says. “People know they want a Grey Goose Martini or a Ketel One Martini.”

A purist himself (a Bombay Sapphire Gin Martini is his martini of choice), Oboyski sees the emergence of so many martini cocktails as the result of vodka companies trying to come up with the next big drink.

While some see the spinoffs as plagiarizing the martini name, others enjoy that the famous drink has been made more universal. You’d be hard-pressed not to find one you like.

“Whether it’s classic or fruity, chocolate or cocktail style, there’s nothing cooler than sitting there like Joan Crawford back in the day with a martini in your hand,” Oboyski says.

Martini basics

Classic martinis are mixed at a gin-to-vermouth ratio of about 4 to 1, but the amount of vermouth depends on personal taste.

The less vermouth, the more “dry” the martini.

Some recipes call for pouring the vermouth over the ice in the shaker, then, after a brief shake, pouring out the vermouth and adding the gin.

Winston Churchill, an avid martini fan, joked that his martini recipe simply required glancing at the vermouth bottle across the room and then pouring straight gin.

Want a Gibson? Throw in a pearl onion instead of an olive for garnish.

Classic Martini

4 ounces gin

1 ounce dry white vermouth, or less to taste

olive, to garnish

Fill martini glass with ice to chill it while you mix.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, the gin and the vermouth and shake for 20 seconds or so. Dump the ice out of the glass, pour in the mixture and garnish with an olive.

Source: http://cocktails.about.com

James Bond’s Vesper Martini

3 ounces gin

1 ounce vodka

1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc

lemon peel slice to garnish

Fill martini glass with ice to chill it while you mix.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc and shake for 20 seconds or so.

Dump the ice out of the glass, strain the mixture from the shaker into the glass and add lemon peel.

Serves 1.

Source: kingofcocktails.com

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