Welcome, shakers of the weekend!
What a week it has been. Autumn is crisping up leaves. Pope Francis rode in a little Fiat around our nation. Olivia Pope is back in biz with Scandal. Joaquin the tropical stormacane is headed up the East Coast. I finally have my first official post ready!!!
There are 8.7 billion drink recipes online right now. Google it. Lavender boysenberry spritzed pisco rimmed with saffron and licorice twizzle set afire by a kiss of Bacardi 101 floated on the tears of a Tibetan monk.
It’s all out there, and we’ll get our hands sticky with as many as I can try. But for this FIRST drink, I want to begin where I began, cocktailing at a hotel bar in the Southwest that hosted bands resting between arena shows, elected officials puffing cigars (when that was still allowed), and karaoke collegiates downing Long Island Ice Teas (when that was still allowed). In the hours before the old timers left and the crowds rushed in, I worked with some really, really good bartenders who taught me how to craft a drink. It matters HOW you build a drink. The order you do things in matters, and the presentation matters. The first drink they taught me to make, and it will forever be my favorite, was the dirty martini.
I am a vodka martini girl. Gin makes a man mean, or so they say, and I’m mean enough, so in this martini I am going to use Grey Goose vodka. It’s smooth and inoffensive to guests (Note: my go-to favorite is Stolichnaya). There are two billion vodkas, there are 100 thousand gins, and ALL of this is best when you find the one that really fits your taste. A solid punchy gin is Bombay Sapphire. I will stress – in a drink of elegance such as the martini do not buy those plastic bottles on the bottom shelf…shell out a little more and feel fancy. If you have the means to buy very expensive spirits, remember that sometimes they are charging for the bottle and not the contents. You can only distill a potato so much before it all tastes the same. Find your happy place on the spirit.
You will need DRY vermouth. (not sweet. That is for a Manhattan, and that is for another weekend). You will also need olives (big clean Spanish olives), a lemon if you like a twist (limes are not for this, nor are oranges but you do you), and if you think both those ideas are gross pick up little pickled pearl onions (You’ll wind up with a Gibson – it’s fantastic).
Are you having a group over? Line up your stash on your table or bar area – always put garnishes out in a little bowl (NO THEY ARE NOT SNACKS PUT THAT DOWN) – Fill and chill a large carafe of strained martini that you can just stir up and pour into the glasses. Don’t put ice in the carafe or you’ll have a watery mess.
Only need one or two (or three)? Then do this:
- Set out your martini glass – place ice in glass – pour a small amount of dry vermouth into the glass – set aside to chill.
- In your shaker, put one scoop of crushed ice – pour two or three shots per drink of vodka or gin – shot glass to measure or the bartender count (one… two… three…stop). For a DRY martini – put a dash of vermouth into the mix. For a MEDIUM martini – put a glug (half shot) into the mix. For a WET martini – put a shot of vermouth into the mix. The more vermouth, the less the zing of the vodka or gin will be on your tongue. For a dirty martini – a glug of olive juice from the jar. DO NOT USE A TON OF OLIVE JUICE IN THERE – you want a martini, not a sip of the Atlantic Ocean. Add it in to taste.
- Shake it. Because Bond, James Bond.
- Remember your little martini glass sitting alone over there, chillin? Swirl the ice melt and vermouth around and around in it, and dump it into the sink – BAM! You’ve just “painted your glass” – you can use that phrase to impress people. It’s fancy and puts a little hug of vermouth around your glass.
- Strain that puppy into your glass. (This fuzzy little pic that will drive all my photographer friends mad shows the Boston method. HEY one handed pour plus pic snapping. I think I did okay…)
- GARNISH! Garnish is the difference between meh and WOW. Don’t you dare make a mehtini! You can drop olives into stuff some other time. Get some nice little picks and give your guest two or three olives. One is the pits, speaking of… No pits! DO NOT USE CHEESE STUFFED OLIVES. Who doesn’t love a chunk of feta floating in your drink? EVERYONE doesn’t. That’s the answer. DO use Jalapeno stuffed olives. DO say “Ima get jala-peno martini” as you plunk them on picks into your guest’s drink. Or don’t. Know your audience.
- DRINK! I have a dearly beloved who insists on gulping down martinis. It drives me mad. Sip them. They are meant to be lingered over while lunching with a Senator and discussing policy changes, or waiting at the charity ball for your turn to give accolades. Treat that tini with respect!
And treat yourself with respect. Enjoy – Don’t drink and drive.
Ain’t gonna hurt nobody. We just dancin y’all.