The trick to the perfect Martini lies in the vermouth. More specifically, it’s the LACK of vermouth. Here’s the skinny:
- Shaker (preferably metal, although plastic will work too)
- Large Martini Glass
- Refrigerator (seems obvious, I know, but it’s important)
- Olive Spear
- 6 oz Gin or Vodka
- A splash of Dry Vermouth
- Olives (1 to 3 is traditional) or Lemon Peel
- Ice (cubes will work, crushed is better)
Ahead of Time
Start by refrigerating your vermouth for the amount of time it takes for the bottle to get cold (at least an hour). I’ll explain why in a bit. Chill a Martini glass in the refrigerator or the freezer for about 10 minutes. You can go for less time, but I like my Martinis at the lowest possible temperature.
The Martini Mixing
Take the glass out of the fridge/freezer and pour a small amount of Vermouth into it. Here’s the important bit: swirl the vermouth in the glass so that the sides of the glass are coated. DISCARD THE REMAINING VERMOUTH. Spear an olive or two, and put it in the glass. Pour your gin or vodka (gin is better) into a shaker over copious amounts of ice. Shake the living crap out of it. Seriously, shake it like a revival preacher shaking the devil out of a sinner. Strain into the glass, and you’re good to go.
Technically you’re supposed to eat the olives first, but I won’t tell if you don’t.
The reason for refrigerating your vermouth is so that you don’t warm your glass when you swirl with it. I know it seems like a waste of good alcohol to toss the vermouth remaining in the glass, but trust me, it makes the end result so much better, that it’s well worth it. I suppose you could save it, since it’s barely even touched the glass, but that just sounds strange to me.
Also, the reason crushed ice is better than cubes is that the surface are of the crushed ice is significantly greater than that of the cubes (like a heatsink in reverse). Greater surface area equals greater cooling power.
Now, having said all that, my person favorite variation is to replace the olives with a lemon twist. Take a small twist of lemon rind, rub it around the edge of the glass, throw it in, and pour the gin over that.
Not to start a flame war, but here are my favorite brands of spirits for use in martinis. I prefer Beefeater gin to all others. As for vodka, Skyy is my personal favorite, as I find Absolut has too much bite for my taste. Haven’t gotten around to buying/trying Grey Goose (although I hear it’s excellent). I use Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth.