The perfect martini. What is the perfect martini? Does perfect mean classic? Does it mean shaken? Or could it mean stirred?
Solving the mystery of this basic, yet refined cocktail proved to be a larger feat than we initially anticipated. As many know, much controversy exists in regards to one of the most classic cocktails of all time.
You may be disappointed to know we never settled on a recipe. We did, however, conclude that the perfect martini is imperfect.
We all take ours a little different around here: Grady swirls his glass with vermouth instead of dumping it into the mix. Meghan insists on freezing her coupes. Josh makes his with a lemon ribbon. Steph swears by blue-cheese stuffed olives and Rebecca is all for the vodka over gin.
First, decide on your spirit – preferably a premium spirit, one that stands superbly on its own. We used Corbin Cash’s sweet potato gin, as we are big fans of a) old style gins b) sustainable practices and c) local farmers + purveyors. A little about Corbin Cash: Fifth generation farmers since 1917, Corbin Cash has a complete line of truly farm-to-bottle spirits – rye, vodka, whiskey and more. They use their sweet potatoes to create each bottle and are a 100% vertically integrated operation. Absolutely everything is done, and sustainably so, on their property; even the spring water used in production is recycled back to the farm for irrigation and the spent mash is used as fertilizer or cattle feed.
Next: Glassware. Brace yourself for a pro-tip: chill your glassware. All of it! From there, add bitters to your chilled mixing glass. Next up, the gin. Pour 2.5 oz into your mixing glass, followed by 3/4 oz vermouth. Finally, add ice and stir your mixture for ~ 20 seconds. Simple, right? Garnish as you wish, be it a lemon twist or stuffed olives.
One thing is for sure: there are a few pro-tips you can practice in attempt to achieve martini perfection. Below are a list of our in-house cocktail geek’s recommended tips.
Josh’s Pro Tips
- I always add ingredients from least-expensive-by-volume to most-expensive-by-volume; that way when I inevitably screw up I can minimize the cost.
- Do yourself a favor and buy a bar mat—they make for quick cleanup and they’re cheap online. They also make great drying mats for dishes and can be rolled up for storage.
- Stir for ~ 20 seconds. Got an instant read thermometer? Take a look and stop somewhere between 21º F and 27º F (-6ºC and -3ºC).
- If you’re dropping Olives into your martini, toss them (and their brine) into the fridge a couple hours before you start making drinks. Mixed drinks are a tug-of-war between enthalpy and entropy that brings a drink to -6º below the freezing point of water, and it’s an abomination to the work you’ve done to toss in 20 or 30 grams of 68º F stuff — that changes the way you taste the drink (the taste of the vermouth in the drink, most dramatically) and the life of the cocktail.
- On that note – store your gin in the freezer and the Vermouth in the fridge. It’s going to give you far more control over dilution (ice melting while it cools) as well as the final temperature of the drink.
- Freeze everything—serving glasses, mixing glasses, all the booze.
- Store a few pint glasses (beer glasses) in the freezer, no-one has the cash to throw down for multiple fancy mixing glasses and you’re usually making a few drinks in an evening. Use the mixing glass to impress your guests, and use the pint glass for your own drink while they’re chatting in the other room. Plus it’s always good to have a few pint glasses chilled for beer or seltzer water, it’s a nice touch.