In 1988 I was bartending at a T. G. I. Fridays in Manhattan. We
were playing around with recipes for shots and I put 2 parts vodka,
1 part apple schnapps in a mixing glass full of ice, shook it,
strained it into a rocks glass and called it a "Jolly Rancher".
Well, did I miss the boat on the creation of the "Apple Martini." I
had no chance of catching that boat because I wasn't even standing
on the dock.
You see, up to that point in my life I'd always assumed that a
martini was gin and vermouth. At least that's what it said on the
side of my dad's mixing glass that he kept in the cupboard next to
the breakfast cereal. I didn't realize it was an option to change a
recipe, delete ingredients add others and call it the same name. I
just figured we have all these letters in our alphabet, why not
take a few, rearrange them and come up with a new word. Or just use
some of our other fine existing words, like "Jolly Rancher" and
invent a new drink. I just don't see the need to smack around the
once proud martini. The guy who came up with the "Cape Codder",
didn't call it a "Screwdriver w/ Cranberry."
I can hear comedian Jim Norton in my ear, "Tom, stop being a
silly goose, don't let these things bother you."
I think the real issue with people drinking a martini is the
vermouth. The problem with vermouth is that it goes bad. Vermouth
is wine, it's fortified wine, but it's still wine and needs to be
treated as such. It should be refrigerated, aerated with a wine
pump after opening to avoid oxidation and stored out of direct
sunlight. Even with all these precautions it will still probably go
bad after a month, which is much faster than most are able to
consume the bottle. So if you haven't bought a bottle of vermouth
since the Trike Races at Killington, now is time to get a new one.
Originally martinis were made with sweet vermouth - I suggest you
try one - if you don't like it you can always use it for your
If you're not sure if your vermouth is bad, do a taste test:
Take your old bottle, pour some in a glass and do same with your
new vermouth. First look; old dry vermouth gets darker and the red
Next, smell. The difference should be obvious. Then, taste, and
I think you will understand why everyone shies away from vermouth.
They don't hate vermouth, they hate vermouth that's spoiled.
The same happened to me with champagne. I didn't think I liked
champagne until I left T. G. I.'s and went to work at
"Stringfellow's" where I worked the champagne room. (I was more
than ready to ditch my bling-laden suspenders for a sporty vest.)
And I realized I don't hate champagne; I hate bad champagne, (but
love Perrier Jouet).
Ok, back to the martini. Get a nice bottle of gin, not
Tanqueray, save that for the summer to mix with Tonic. Gin doesn't
have to taste like somebody shoved a pine tree up your nose. Try
Plymouth gin. If it's good enough for the British Navy it's good
enough for me. It seems to be a little sweeter than other London
dry gins and has some nice earthy flavors.
Oh, I almost forgot the orange bitters. Gary Regan makes some
Get your tools in order - mixing glass and cocktail glass in the
freezer, getting nice and cold. We're going to stir this drink not
shake it. I don't care what James Bond says, he may have a license
to kill but he doesn't know how to make a martini. Shaking only
makes it a cloudy mess and introduces air bubbles into your drink.
Stirring in a frozen glass also makes your drink colder than
shaking. Just trust me on that. Shaking is loud and showy and great
for emulsifying ingredients but it won't make your drink colder. I
know you won't believe me on this issue if you currently shake, but
"Tom, you're being a silly goose again!" Sorry. Thanks Jim.
Pull that mixing glass out of the freezer. Hit it with one or
two dashes of orange bitters. (Remember a dash not a drop, a steady
stream not a drip.)
Add your spirits:
I like 3/4 ounce of French vermouth (dry)
2 1/2 ounces Plymouth gin
Put in your mixing spoon, add ice and stir for about 30 seconds
- 15 one way, 15 the other. Put your strainer on top and go back to
the freezer for your glass. I hope you didn't have it sitting on
the counter getting warm while you were mixing.
Strain into said glass, grab a nice fresh lemon (sorry I forgot
to mention the lemon, my bad). Peel a nice fat swath with a veggie
peeler over the top of your drink, then twist that baby or fold in
half if it's big enough. Rub the remnants of those fragrant oils on
the edge of the glass and drop it. Sip and enjoy. Nice, right? It's
a classic for a reason, no need to guild the lily.
Relax you deserve it, and remember be safe, "Tipple, don't