Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Lee's Martini Recipe

Here we go, for liquid paradise:

1 1/2 shots of a very good gin
1/2 shot of vermouth
two inch strip of lemon rind

Mix gin and vermouth in shaker filled with ice

Shake shake shake
Shake shake shake
(Shake your booty)
(I'm dating myself)

Shake until your hands cannot stand how cold the shaker has become. For me, that's about 256 shakes.

Pour gin and vermouth into a martini glass.

Twist the lemon rind over the martini glass contents and then toss it into the mix.

If you're especially ambitious, twist another lemon rind onto the rim of the martini glass.

Voila. Fluid Nirvana.

My good buddy Jay, bass trombonist with the Omaha Symphony, taught me how to make a martini. But I don't make it the way he taught anymore. Jay likes an extremely dry martini. Essentially, he merely coats the ice with vermouth and then tosses out any residual vermouth before adding the gin. He also sometimes "shakes it naked", i.e., without any vermouth at all. I have tremendous respect for Jay in practically all areas of expertise, and in particular his expertise in mixology. But I have since learned that I prefer a less dry martini. Gin and vermouth are two drinks that are quite rough by themselves, but which smooth each other out. (On the opposite end of the spectrum, Manhattans -- a mixture of sweet vermouth and whiskey -- are rough, even though the components are quite smooth by themselves. Go figure.)

There seems to be some controversy on what, exactly, constitutes a good gin. If money is no object, I prefer Beefeater. Jay introduced me to Beefeater martinis, and I have never found a better gin. However, Beefeater is very pricey -- here in Virginia, it's about $45 per 1.5 liter bottle. Ouch. I save the Beefeater for guests. For everyday martinis, I use good old Seagram's, which is less than half the price and pretty darn good. (Debbie actually prefers the Seagram's; it's a milder flavor, but still fairly complex.)

Some folks are Bombay Sapphire Gin partisans. Don't want to start a fuss or anything, but I don't get it and never will. When Jay taught me the art of the martini, he stressed that Bombay Sapphire was every bit as well-respected as Beefeater. So, not too long afterward, Debbie was out of the house, and so I decided to stage a private taste-test. I had one Beefeater martini, and then one Bombay Sapphire martini. I didn't like the Bombay martini, but I had to make sure, so I had another. Not at all happy with the results, I called Jay to register my displeasure. He wasn't home, so I vented on his answering machine. The next time I saw Jay, he told me, "I wish I had saved that rant, I could have made a million bucks with it." Then, in his best Foster Brooks voice, Jay verbally reproduced my message: "Jayyy, thish ish Lee. I'm here to tell, you, hiccup, Bombay Sapphire makesh an infeer... inferrioorrr martini!"

I've experimented with gins a bit. Hendricks is a recent newcomer. It's half again even more expensive than Beefeater. Very hoity-toity. I like it okay, but to me it tastes like a gin made for people who don't like gin. Part of the charm of gin is the in-your-face herbal fisticuffs. In that regard, Hendricks is a relative sissy on a shelf full of brawlers -- it acts like it's ashamed of being a gin and would really rather be a vodka. Most of my experimentation has been at the low end of the market, in search of a gin that can compete with Seagram's. Haven't found one yet. Gins in that sector of the market are manufactured for gin & tonics. Or British sailors. Gordon's Gin, for example, is an excellent gin for a gin & tonic, and cheaper even than Seagram's -- but is a bit violent on the martini sipper's superior palate. If I say so myself.

I've also experimented with dry vermouths. Don't bother. Martini & Rossi's Dry Vermouth, at about $9 a bottle, is almost twice as expensive as the competition -- but in truth it appears to have no competition. Buy the M&R. Don't waste your time on inferior vermouth.


Anonymous said...

Is Gordon's Gin in the elixir of quietude a bit violent because it's flavor is too heavy or delivers too much alcoholic punch?

Lee said...

I find its taste a bit too pungent for the best martini. I think it's a great flavor, but just not smooth enough. It'll certainly do in a pinch.