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     The Martini 
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By Chris Poh

In Praise of the Perfect Pairing


"You can no more keep a Martini in the refrigerator than you can keep a kiss there.
The proper union of gin and vermouth is ... one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived."
                                                                                                                                                - Bernard DeVoto


"The Martini is the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet"
                                                                                                  - H. L. Mencken

"The elixir of quietude"
                            - E. B. White

Martini


If any self-respecting barkeep were to fill an old fashioned glass with a mixture of milk and chocolate syrup, would they have the audaciousness to refer to the concoction as a “Bosco Old fashioned?’ I would hope for the sake and honor of the profession they would not! And so should be the case for the martini glass. Anything other than gin, dry vermouth, and, if one is so inclined, vodka were to be poured into this sacred cup, it should not be referred to as anything other than being a cocktail whose volume is defined by that particular glass. Liqueurs from foreign lands, pureed fruits, flavored schnapps, the ink of a squid, or anything other than the aforesaid ingredients should ever be designated as some kind of martini.

Now having taken care of some of my personal grumblings about the current state of mixology, let us begin to build that majestic tribute to the juniper berry.

The first step is to pack your shaker glass with as much ice as humanly possible. To that add a generous measure of gin. Then there is the issue as to how much dry vermouth should be used. Older recipes called for a 2-to-1 ratio of gin to vermouth. Although the origins of the cocktail certainly predate Prohibition, this practice may have stemmed from that period when the cheaply produced, and often suspect, gin needed a fair amount of masking. But with the availability of today’s highly refined and complex tasting gins, most recipes recommend no more than a half ounce of dry vermouth. I myself tend toward Noel Coward’s mathematical formulations on the matter. The revered English playwright and composer declared that the proper martini called for “filling a glass with gin and then waving it in the general direction of Italy” (which along with France is a major producer of both red and dry vermouth). So while I prefer to skip the vermouth altogether, it is, like most things in life, simply a question of personal taste.

Once one has decided upon the extent of the relationship between the herbs flavored wine and the juniper laced gin, there is the challenge of how best to consummate the courtship—should the marriage be stirred or shaken? Followers of the more traditional practices prefer a stirring coupling, but I like to shake things up a bit. In fact, there is evidence that suggests that this action produces a higher degree of antioxidants—thus aiding those who use the medicinal argument to rationalize their need for strong drink. But whichever mixing technique is employed, it is important that the final product always be strained into a well chilled glass.

The last detail is to decide whether to bless this wonderful wedding of the grape and berry with either olives or a lemon twist. Again, this decision is only subject to the whims of the palate, but I must caution those, who like me, prefer a citrus quality over that of a briny finish. When using lemon, the success of the cocktail depends upon the coaxing of some oil from the peel onto the surface of the drink. This garnish serves an important function, and it is not, as so many bartenders are prone to think, just decorative.

Now that you have passed the Martini-making course . . .  you practically have a degree in it, why not announce a graduation party to display your new skills?  A graduation party for a skill learned on the internet, why not?  Invite your friends and family through graduation announcements with custom designs like those made at http://www.mixbook.com/cards/graduation-announcements.


A couple of hints to spice up the relationship:

·  For those who like olives, try soaking them overnight in dry vermouth before adding them to your martini.

·  For those who prefer lemon, rub the inside of the glass with the peel before pouring the drink. The fine coat of oil will impart a lasting flavor.





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" Everything important that has ever happened in New York began
or ended in the city's BEST BARS! "


The History and Stories of the

BEST BARS

of New York

Written by  Jef Klein
Photographs by  Cary Hazelgrove


available through
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