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James Bond Ruined the Martini

by James Joyner on 3 August 2009

sean-connery-martini
“Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.” – Jed Bartlett, The West Wing

A classic rejoinder to an even more classic line.   In actuality, however, Bond’s martinis should indeed have been shaken rather than stirred.  Because they weren’t martinis at all.

A proper martini contains gin and vermouth, traditionally in a 4-to-1 ratio, with a twist of lemon peel and/or an olive.  Purists prefer them stirred, not shaken although, like the current Bond (which, incidentally, is better than the original) I don’t really give a damn.   Technically, a shaken martini, which will have a slurry of ice crystals floating in it, is referred to as a Bradford.

Alas, whereas the Bond of Casino Royale — both the 1953 novel which introduced the character and the 2006 film which rebooted the franchise — drank Vespers — a drink of his/Ian Fleming’s invention containing “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel” — the Bond of the earlier films drank what are properly referred to as vodka martinis which, as the name implies, substitutes vodka for gin.

As to the shaken, not stirred, controversy, an old piece at The Straight Dope explains nicely.

There are three main differences between a martini (or a vodka martini) which has been stirred and one which has been shaken. First, a shaken martini is usually colder than one stirred, since the ice has had a chance to swish around the drink more. Second, shaking a martini dissolves air into the mix; this is the “bruising” of the gin you may have heard seasoned martini drinkers complain about–it makes a martini taste too “sharp.” Third, a shaken martini will more completely dissolve the vermouth, giving a less oily mouth feel to the drink.

In a vodka martini, cold is key: a vodka martini that is not ice-cold tastes like lighter fluid. So you shake them. The experience of a traditional martini is more dependent on it being smooth and on not ruining the delicate flavors of the gin. Ergo, one stirs it. Simple enough, no?

Now, I don’t mind vodka martinis.  While I decidedly prefer the traditional variety (sans the olive, unless my wife’s with me to eat it) a vodka martini is a perfectly refreshing cocktail.  But because Bond, especially Sean Connery’s Bond, defined cool for so many, the vodka martini essentially became the martini.  In many bars and restaurants, you will be served a vodka martini unless you actually specify gin.  And that, I submit, is just wrong.

Further, this travesty has spread beyond martinis.  The other evening, my wife ordered a Tom Collins, another classic cocktail that’s just perfect for summertime.  It was made with Absolut vodka rather than gin.  Truly a travesty.

My personal favorite, and also that of Stephen Green (ironically known as the VodkaPundit) is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, dry vermouth, and a lemon peel.  As to the amount, Christopher Hitchens passes along a superb mnemonic: “martinis are like breasts: One is one too few, while three is one too many.”

About James Joyner

James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway and the managing editor of a DC think tank. He's a former Army officer, Desert Storm vet, and college professor. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama.

{ 5 trackbacks }

Martini and Steak
3 August 2009 at 11:50
License to Kill the Martini | Heretical Ideas Blog
3 August 2009 at 13:18
Man Laws — MANzine
5 August 2009 at 15:05
Manly Thoughts | Outside the Beltway | Online Journal of Politics and Foreign Affairs
8 August 2009 at 07:27
James Bond Ruined the Martini | PowerTowneDistro.com
10 August 2009 at 02:13

{ 61 comments }

1 Boyd 3 August 2009 at 07:20

If I order a martini at a bar and, instead, get a vodka martini, it is wrong, and for their mistake, they’ll have to make me another one.
 
I prefer to use the M*A*S*H recipe for a martini, anyway: pour the gin, then salute the vermouth bottle from across the room. Or if one prefers a more hands-on approach, wave the vermouth bottle over the martini glass.

2 James Joyner 3 August 2009 at 08:48

Winston Churchill had the same attitude, directing those mixing his martinis to simply “look in the direction of France” as a substitute for vermouth.

3 Alex Knapp 3 August 2009 at 11:17

The Vesper is my personal favorite martini, although it’s tough to get your hands on Kona Lillet around here so I usually use a sweet vermouth instead. (I also use Bombay Sapphire, as Gordon’s is not really a premium spirit anymore.)

I’m also a fan of the Perfect Martini, which maintains the usual 4:1 ratio of gin to vermouth but the vermouth is half-sweet/half-dry.

4 James Joyner 3 August 2009 at 11:24

I’ll have to give your modified Vesper a try.  The Gordon’s of Ian Flemming’s day was 100 proof; now it’s 70 proof.  But I don’t think the concept of “premium” for gin and vodka existed until the 1980s or so.

5 Alex Knapp 3 August 2009 at 12:07

What I mean by “premium” is that Gordon’s tastes bloody awful, but Bombay Sapphire tastes good. :)

6 michael reynolds 3 August 2009 at 12:13

Thank God we’re finally getting down to important matters.  Gin, preferably Sapphire, dry, up, olives in cold weather, twist in summer.  Do not give me a gin slushy.  Do not give me vodka unless you’re also dishing out the beluga.
And while we’re at it, don’t hand me a so-called “martini menu” that talks about Kahlua or  peach schnapps or apple anything.  My martini menu is really short:  you can have gin if you’re a man, or vodka if you’re a girl (or British.)  Everything else attempting to pass itself off as a martini is Gatorade.

7 PD Shaw 3 August 2009 at 12:15

I favor a cold (gin) martini, but one obtained with the patience of having a pre-chilled mixing glass, a pre-chilled cocktail glass, and a little quality time with the ice — a few stirs are fine. If the bartender doesn’t appear suited for such attention, I’ll order something else.

In the summer, I replace the olives with a drop of orange bitters for variety. Also, another vote for Bombay Sapphire.

8 Boyd 3 August 2009 at 13:22

I agree that martinis deserve a higher grade of gin (although Gordon’s is fine for a G&T, with ice and a slice, thankyouverymuch). I don’t much like Bombay Sapphire’s flavor anywhere but in a martini.

9 James Joyner 3 August 2009 at 13:27

I agree that martinis deserve a higher grade of gin (although Gordon’s is fine for a G&T, with ice and a slice, thankyouverymuch).

Gordon’s is also perfectly fine in a Tom Collins.  Sapphire’s a little pricey if you’re not able to taste the gin.

10 Dale Madren 3 August 2009 at 13:59

Dorothy Parker:

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.

11 JMO 3 August 2009 at 14:13

Men drink gin or vodka if the bar happens to be out of scotch.  Men will drink Dewar’s white or Johnny red before descending to the level of gin or vodka.
Men drink strong hoppy beer, (red) wine and Lagavulin.  Do you “guys” (quotation marks necessary) enjoy apple martinis too, sweeties?
Typical of an Alabama grad.
I kid, I kid…I’m a kidder.  Except about the Alabama thing:  Go Commodores.   Every once in a blue moon I’ll have a proper martini with gin…it’s almost grounds to depart an establishment and find another if you order a martini and the bartender asks “vodka or gin?” but I suppose that’s the way of the modern world.
Good post, in any case.

12 harris 3 August 2009 at 14:17

Two points:
1) Boodle’s Gin makes the best martini.
2) The correct name for a drink made of vodka and vermouth is a kangaroo.

13 ray 3 August 2009 at 14:18

Bombay Sapphire only. Keep that “Bombay-only” stuff back behind the bar, if you would. A nod to the vermouth bottle is fine. And if I have a choice (many bars don’t stock the necessaries), I prefer a Gibson.

Also, see Judge Bork on the Martini. http://bit.ly/13rJpF

14 Matt Mehaffey 3 August 2009 at 14:28

Another refreshing summer time drink is the gin gimlet, a mix of gin and lime juice.  As it is often made with Rose’s lime juice, I prefer straight Bombay gin instead of sapphire, because sapphire with rose’s can be too sweet.  This drink is best served straight up in a martini glass, but can be served on the rocks.

15 James Joyner 3 August 2009 at 14:32

Another refreshing summer time drink is the gin gimlet, a mix of gin and lime juice.

Followed, naturally, with a delicious steak.

16 ML 3 August 2009 at 14:33

Had to way in here.  I can’t (repeat, can’t) stand the way most bartenders prepare martinis.  The idea that a martini has to be shaken to a bloody pulp absolutely ruins it, but boy is it theatrical (and isn’t that the point for most people ordering them).  I’ve gotten to the point where I order them stirred though I still prefer to shake them at home.  The trick is to do it lightly so that the ice doesn’t chip off but rather just chills the drink well.
And no offense to those of you who prefer the extra dry (i.e. turn and face France method) but that isn’t a martini it’s cold gin in a fancy glass…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing :-) .  I do recommend you try it with Lillet.  For me that’s 3 oz gin and about 1/2 oz of Lillet.  You can find Lillet at better wine stores, it’s basically a french appertief.

17 Royce 3 August 2009 at 14:56

If you think a shaken Martini is bad, try a shaken Manhattan. It’s a frothy, tasteless mess.

Gin and Vodka get bruised. Rye and Bourbon get beaten to a pulp in a shaker.

I’ve sent back many a Manhattan because a) it had been shaken after I ordered it stirred and/or b) it contained no bitters.

Philistines!

18 Will Allen 3 August 2009 at 14:57

I prefer Tanqueray No. 10. when on an excursion to the ginmills.

19 Alex Knapp 3 August 2009 at 15:03

Royce,

I’m with you on the bad Manhattans. I’ve actually stopped ordering them at bars because most places don’t properly maintain their sweet vermouth and let it get oxidized. Ugh.

20 Eric Blair 3 August 2009 at 15:07

Kona Lillet is no longer made. Hasn’t been made since the late 60′s. There’s another lillet currently produced that’s similar, but it ain’t the same thing.

21 Will Allen 3 August 2009 at 15:07

Frankly, unless one is has a long term relationship with the barkeep, quite often the best strategy is simply asking the hoochslinger to 1)obtain a glass, and 2)pour some liqour in it.. Hence my usual preference for the darker nectars.

22 PD Shaw 3 August 2009 at 15:24

Thanks for the link to the Bork article. I confess I’ve never heard or seen a martini on the rocks. Quite clearly the horror of the experience left an indelible mark on the jurist, forcing him to seek to construct order and retain purity in a world devolving into madness. It’s as if he gazed into his palantir and saw the rise of the appletini and the Jonas Brothers.

23 Stuart W. Settle 3 August 2009 at 15:27

At the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan they feature the James Bond martini. They use Hendrick’s gin, a Scottish gin that makes a great martini; The Hotel Pierre recipe is two parts Hendrick’s gin, one part Belvedere vodka and one half part Lillet blanche, up with a twist. I note in the recipe in Casino Royale, Bond specifies that the vodka must be potato based, so substitute Chopin for Belvedere. If you want the drink to be crystal clear instead of cloudy, ignore Bond’s advice and stir instead of shake

24 bob 3 August 2009 at 15:31

The tradition Tom Collins uses Old Tom gin.  It’s slightly sweeter, and it makes a difference in drinks like that.  However, good luck finding it.

25 michael reynolds 3 August 2009 at 15:32

No gimlets.  Bad experience.  Very bad.  Involving a staggering, Sauron-chewed-my-brain hangover and the need to do repairs in a closed attic in August.  I blame the lime.

26 James Joyner 3 August 2009 at 15:32

I confess I’ve never heard or seen a martini on the rocks.

Oddly, I was asked just the other evening how I wanted my martini.  Before I could answer, the waitress asked, “Straight or on the rocks?” Slightly taken aback, I assured her that I wanted no extraneous ice in my beverage and specified the ingredients and ratios that I preferred.  It was perfectly fine but I might been wiser to simply go with Will Allen’s suggestion and just asked her to pour some Sapphire into a cocktail glass.

27 Bart 3 August 2009 at 15:34

I could just be manufacturing memories in my old age, but I could swear that when I originally read the books, Bond actually did order his stirred, not shaken, and I think I later read somewhere that it was reversed in the movies because some screenwriter thought it rolled off the tongue better that way.

28 Patrick S Lasswell 3 August 2009 at 15:43

Something to keep in mind is that when the James Bond books were written, getting decent booze around the world was fairly hard.  Smirnoff vodka was fairly available, too cheap for local bars to fake badly, good enough to make a less than distressing tipple, and unlikely to disappoint if imbibed quickly.   Many of the purists talking about the rarest of vodka’s ignore the fact that during the war and for a good bit afterwards, it was hard to get decent hootch and one learned to settle quickly.  Certainly James Bond is perfectly willing to be a snob when conditions allow, but he’s also a good enough agent to be able to find ways to endure in less auspicious circumstances.
Having travelled to Iraq with a wine snob, allow me to assure you that learning to get by with decent liquor that is available is a real virtue.  You can get Johnny Walker Black a lot of places, but finding particular Bordeaux’s or other abstractions is setting yourself up for disappointment.

29 Hurricane 3 August 2009 at 15:46

Bart- I think you may be correct.

I’m always amused by the arrogance of people (see most of the above comments) when it comes to drink. The best drink, for man or woman, is the drink you prefer. Let all these “men drink this and women drink that” jackasses sit alone while they stroke their egos. Have fun without them.

30 Brutus 3 August 2009 at 16:15

If the establishment doesn’t stock Sapphire or Hendricks, hie thee elsewhere!

31 John 3 August 2009 at 16:23

Being an interested observer but non imbiber of martinis I looked up Kona Lillet in Google to see if there were some more recent maker but instead found that it may actually be Kina Lillet as per this article http://www.tjbd.co.uk/content/drink/kina-lillet.htm.

32 Anderson 3 August 2009 at 16:24

What is supposedly wrong with Bombay Dry Gin, as opposed to Sapphire? I find both quite drinkable with a hint of vermouth.

… And, given that gin is easier to drink than vodka, I don’t quite get the “vodka for girls” bit; if it’s trial by ordeal we’re talking, then guys should have to drink the vodka martinis. Which suck. So let’s not get macho here.

33 Marty 3 August 2009 at 16:27

Hurricane:  I love these drink go-arounds. While I agree that the best drink is the one you prefer, there is something to be said for refinement and discernment. You can learn a lot from people who have been around the block and tasted a lot, especially if they can tell you what they think is good and why they think so. And I do so hate it when people take something you love and bastardize it, but keep the name so as to glom onto some of the cachet of same. While I’ll grant a bit of leeway to those whose precision in speech is lacking and who will call something with vodka in it a martini,  there are limits: an appletini is not a martini. On the other hand, martinis were originally made with sweet vermouth, and I think the switch to dry was an improvement.
As PD Shaw mentions above, orange bitters (e.g. Fee’s) are a good addition.
I “invented” another drink I call a “brandy sec” that swaps brandy for gin in my martini recipe. I put “invented” in quotes because it’s too simple for me to have invented, but I can’t find it on the drink recipe sites. It’s Spanish brandy and dry vermouth mixed about 4-1 with a dash of orange bitters.

34 eLocke 3 August 2009 at 16:35

An old girlfriend once suggested that the reason Bond ordered his martinis shaken was that he actually wanted the drink to be diluted. That way, if the need for action arose, he would be less impaired.

35 Marty 3 August 2009 at 16:36

James Joyner: It’s scary what you’ll get if you go to a bar you’re not familiar with and don’t ask questions before ordering. As mentioned above, a bartender will as often as not make a martini with vodka if I don’t specify. Sometimes the waitress will tell me that the bartender is looking up how to make my drink. Sometimes I feel like I should just go over to the other side of the bar and make the damn thing myself. If they have all the ingredients, that is. Many bars don’t even stock bitters. I don’t normally frequent such establishments, but when you’re traveling and in a strange town, you don’t always know where to go other than the the hotel bar…

36 DBL 3 August 2009 at 17:04

I prefer the classic dry martini – about 3/1 gin to dry vermouth, chilled so it’s very cold and served straight up. Gin and vermouth are delicious together, much better than either alone. Shaken or stirred doesn’t matter much so long as the drink is cold.

Derek Brown, who blogs on food and drink at The Atlantic, has come up with a version of the dry martini that is worth trying. He adds a splash of orange bitters (with a lemon peel garnish) which makes an outanding martini, strong and oily and citrusy (good luck finding orange bitters anywhere – after three months I found them at Balduccis). On the other hand, there are days when nothing will do but a dirty martini with a blue-cheese filled olive in it (hello, Chicago).

Cheers!

37 John Burgess 3 August 2009 at 17:09

Hendricks is good, but my favorite is Tanqueray, the classic, not the ’10′, not the ‘Rangpur’, though the latter is great for G&T or a Tom Collins.
Early martini recipes called for a 2:1 ratio of gin to vermouth, so it’s not a trivial exercise to delete the vermouth. There was also a ‘Gin & It’, which reversed the ratios, but that’s another drink entirely.
Vodka became a popular substitute, I believe, because vodka simply became popular. Lacking any sort of assertive flavor, it could be put into almost anything and replaced gin in many drinks. The Screwdriver, for instance, was originally gin-based, too.
I know that when I was young, many thought that vodka had no scent and would thus be undetectable by those who might wish to detect it, say parents or cops. That’s utter rubbish, of course, but perception sells booze as much as anything else.
I don’t particularly care for gin straight, even the heavily botanicals. I think it’s improved with a little something else. Bitters (i.e., ‘pink gin’), vermouth, even grenadine all change the taste in ways I like. I find the ‘look at France’ strain of martini appreciation to really be an affectation, a cover story for someone looking to get tanked as genteely as possible.
 

38 Gene 3 August 2009 at 17:10

Having now switched to Bafferts Gin, I find both Sapphire and 10 to be undrinkable.

39 Lee 3 August 2009 at 17:22

What? Serious martini drinkers that don’t mention Plymouth gin. What is this world coming to.

40 Koblog 3 August 2009 at 17:22

I recommend Sobieski vodka, should the need arise.
King Sobieski of Poland was the guy who saved Western Civilization from the invading Turks at the Gates of Vienna. Good thing, too, because the Moslems would have outlawed alcohol.
The Poles went on to invent “Wokda,” they claim, not the Russians, who mostly just drink the stuff. Sobieski also flat out states that wodka should be made from potatoes, not grapes. Take that, Grey Goose.
Finally, in this day of scientific distillation and endless filtering, Sobieski’s motto is, “Distilled Enough.” And it is.
Good stuff, that, and reasonably priced.

41 PD Shaw 3 August 2009 at 17:29

FWIW I’ve used a drop of angostura bitters. I received a book of martini recipes several years ago in which a few bartenders used a dash of orange bitters. Angostura bitters were the only ones that I could find at the time. A dash completely overpowered the drink, but a drop or two left of a fine oily texture with hints of citrus. If you are like me and tend not to stock lemons; it’s a fine substitute, though I’ve not experimented with other orange bitters.

42 DaveP. 3 August 2009 at 17:29

I prefer mine shaken, not because of Bond but because I like the cold bite. I’ve used Bombay, Sapphire, Tanqueray and Tanqueray Rangpur, and find them all delightful for different reasons (for example, Bombay makes a sharp “business-dinner” martini whereas the Rangpur makes for a mellow relaxation martini).

And as far as vermouth goes, if you want a gin shooter… ask for a gin shooter. Martinis are made with vermouth. If you don’t like the taste, perhaps you’re using the wrong brand.

43 Jim O'Sullivan 3 August 2009 at 17:50

Thank you for addressing one of my pet peeves. When I hear “vodka or gin?” when I order a martini, I have to supress the urge to say something that would make me appear to be snooty.
I have a vague recollection of someone quoting Bond as saying, “Stirred, not shaken, I don’t want the vermouth bruised.” FWIW, which is nothing.

44 Nebuchadnezzar 3 August 2009 at 17:58

Goodness gracious, all the snobbery on display! In my world, going to a bar and drinking is supposed to be fun — but for some it’s apparently just an opportunity to sneer at the bartender for not knowing that a martini, “by definition” is made with gin, not vodka.

Once upon a time when you were young perhaps — but not any more sweetheart, not any more. In this day and age, anyone who indignantly sends back a vodka martini because they were too stupid to specify gin has a stick so far up their ass I’m surprised they can sit on the bar stool.

Tell the bartender what you want. If you think they might not make it the way you want it, politely give them the specifics of what you’re after. Then relax and have a good time. See? That wasn’t so hard. And tell Winston Churchill and the other “vermouth denialists” that if they really just want a glass of gin, they should just order a glass of gin — that way the bartender doesn’t get confused and the customer doesn’t get disappointed.

45 Diggs 3 August 2009 at 18:03

Here on Mars, we prefer three martinis and three breasts, weak earthlings.

46 Kuato 3 August 2009 at 18:10

I agree with Diggs. I, for one, would NEVER consider just having two.

Quaid! Quuuuaaaaiiiid!

47 James Joyner 3 August 2009 at 18:37

Tell the bartender what you want. If you think they might not make it the way you want it, politely give them the specifics of what you’re after.

That’s what I do.  I don’t, for example, mind if they ask “Gin or vodka?” because so many people think that’s what a martini is that, were the bartender to assume gin, they’d have dissatisfied customers.  Nor do I expect bartenders to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every possible cocktail; there are thousands. On the other hand, even a minimally competent bartender should know that the martini — one of only six basic cocktails — comes with either gin or vodka and to ask.

48 RCWhiteh 3 August 2009 at 18:48

I’m given to understand that the drink Bond orders in the new “Casino Royale” is actually called an Americano. Since you can’t get Kina Lillet locally, I’ve taken to substituting blue Curacao for the KL in the recipe. I call it a blue Americano.

Why? Well, I enjoy Curacao and vodka (50/50 – I call it Romulan Ale), but the blue Americano just tastes better. You can use Triple Sec if you can’t find Curacao.

Shaken works just fine for me, thanks. And no, I’m not a sissy-cocktail person; I actually prefer Glenmorangie, Oban, Glenkinchie, and Dalwhinnie to almost anything mixed – except a SuperShoe (50/50 Wild Turkey and Rumpleminz).

49 Edward Royce 3 August 2009 at 19:07

“Serious martini drinkers that don’t mention Plymouth gin. What is this world coming to.”
I heartily concur.  For smoothness, flavor and excellent mouth-feel nothing beats Plymouth gin.
Though Hendricks ain’t bad in an emergency.

50 Simon Hawkin 3 August 2009 at 19:45

Now I want to try all the recipes mentioned here.

51 Curt 3 August 2009 at 19:46

I recently watched the Bond movie “You Only Live Twice” on DVD. In it, a character offers Bond a martini “stirred, not shaken?” and Bond agrees. In the “added features” material, they show this scene and admit that a new director and writer got it wrong!

52 Steve 3 August 2009 at 20:13

A great comment on the proper way to create a martini is from Judge Robert Bork, as reprinted in a National Review Online entry:  http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MmNhYzdhOTVmZTc3MDMwYTFmMWViNWNiNzViZTYyOTA
 

53 Roscoe 3 August 2009 at 20:29

Great post.  But a couple of points.
First, there should never be an issue about whether the martini contains gin or vodka, because if you order the martini without specifying the brand of gin, you do so at your peril.  It ain’t that difficult to say “Bombay-Sapphire-martini-straight-up with-a-twist.”
Second, my pet peeve is people putting olives in martinis.  IMHO, the olive makes the martini taste oily and salty, where a twist gives it a very fresh, light taste.
Third, vermouth is part of the drink.  If you don’t like it, that is okay, but don’t call what you are drinking a martini.
Fourth, I like shaken, and I am a big fan of the (very) little ice chips a vigourous shaking can produce.  Having read some of the comments, I will give stirred a shot, just to make sure I am not missing something.

54 vnjagvet 3 August 2009 at 21:05

The way my brother and I have always used the martini slogan is “one’s not enough, two’s too many, and three’s not enough”.  My experience is that once into the third martini, there is a danger of continuing until you drop.  Since I reached 60, I have confined myself to two, but now often wish I could have another.
My nearly 50 year old recipe is four ounces of regular Bombay Gin (86 proof) and a dash of vermouth with an cocktail onion or a olive stuffed with a slice of jalapeno pepper.  Straight up. I generally shake, but will stir if I have no shaker.

55 vnjagvet 3 August 2009 at 21:06

That sounds so good, I think I will have one now.  Salut.

56 Steve Purdy 3 August 2009 at 21:10

Without being picky, let me pick a few nits.  The Vesper is a great drink – different.  In Casino Royale, the receipe was 3 parts Gordon’s gin, 1 part Stolichnaya vodka (it must be Russian), and of course the Kina Lillet with a lemon peel.  If you want to try it however, they don’t make Kina Lillet any more.  The substitute is Lillet Blanc.  It’s a must to shake the dickens out of it to get the ice crystals and make the drink as cold as it can be.  I recommend it.
As to Roscoe’s comment about not understanding olives in a martini, I suggest you completely dry the olives before you place into the martini.  Pat them dry with a paper towel.  It makes all the diffeence in the world.

57 JDH 3 August 2009 at 22:54

… but 4 is perfect

58 TomMc 3 August 2009 at 23:28

Use good gin.  Keep your gin in the freezer.  Use clean ice.  Buy good olives (not those mushy, disgusting spanish olives in the jar).  Use good vermouth.
Pour a generous amount of vermouth in a glass pitcher and swish it around to wet the sides.  Pour out the vermouth (if you’re using cheap vermouth, wipe the inside of the pitcher with a clean, lint-free towel).
Put two scoops of ice in the pitcher.
Cover the ice with gin, and stir.
Strain into a glass.
Insert olive.
Drink 3 or 4 Martinis.
Don’t drive anywhere.

59 Alex 4 August 2009 at 01:48

Then there is Dorothy Parker: I like to have a Martini, two at the very most; three, I’m under the table, four I’m under my host!’

60 Long Time Listener 4 August 2009 at 09:46

I like Boodles the best, Plymouth is good, and Old Raj is very nice.  I find that you can find more character in a gin that is not one of the mass market “premiums” like Sapphire, etc.
I heartily recommend trying Old Raj in a G&T (about 50/50 proportions). It is quite expensive for a gin, and terribly hard to find in my neck of the woods, but it makes the best G&T I have ever had. Quite good martinis, too.

61 jason 4 August 2009 at 13:26

I have always been a fan of gin. It was the first liquor I cut my teeth on. Up until recently, I have always drank it either straight in a shot, G&T’s, or some other mixed concoction of juice, etc. I had tried to make martinis on my own, but the taste of the vermouth always seemed too overpowering, and frankly, I am not a big fan of the taste of vermouth, at least the Martini & Rossi stuff. I have since started to order them at bars, and have found them to be more enjoyable, especially if lemon peel is substituted for the olives, although with olives it is good too. I think I might just need to find a better source of vermouth, or just experiment with lowering the portion of it.

As for favorite gin, right now it’s Plymouth. I have tried tanqueray(reg, rangpur, malacca, ten), bombay (reg, sapphire), beefeater, magellan, hendricks and martin miller’s. While the hendricks and MM cucumber gins are interesting, for standard juniper gin, Plymouth is the smoothest and most balanced (not too much citrus). I have yet to try Boodles or Old Raj (just too costly) though.

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