What is a Martini?
Most dictionaries would define a martini as any cocktail that is made of gin or vodka and dry vermouth. While this definition is not wrong, it is somewhat outdated. While the original martini was indeed made of such simple, unsexy ingredients, martinis have evolved substantially and are mixed with various delicacies.
One of the most popular martinis is the traditional gin variety, or as one of my favorite joints call them, an Aston Martini (or Gin Aston). Essentially, this jewel is made of gin, extra dry vermouth, ice and garnished with an olive or lemon rind. While I love lemons more than the next guy, nothing comes close to substituting the added concentration that comes from the olive as it attacks the gin and vermouth concoction.
If you are making one for a martini virgin (or a woman that you are not sure can handle a true martini), you may be better off going with a lemon rind. In any case, just remember that as the martini sits there, it does get stronger and will probably hit you like a hammer before you know it. Just another reason why I love martinis.
What makes it so dry?
Vermouth is the ingredient that determines how dry a martini will be. In other words, the less vermouth you add, the drier the martini. Some recipes call for a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 gin-to-vermouth ratio; I let guests try various combinations in order to get it just right. The only problem is that by the time we get it right, we are intoxicated, on the floor, and can hardly remember which mix or combination yielded this optimal mix. But that's a whole other article in itself...
Although many people sip on martinis, make sure you do not let the ice melt, as this will dilute the drink.
If you are making this drink at home, shake it around eight times or if you're not like 007, stir it for about five seconds, otherwise, it will get diluted. Immediately strain the liquid into a martini glass.
The original martinis were made of gin. With time, some vodka-based martinis popped up along the East Coast. As a result, don't bother asking someone whether he prefers a vodka or gin martini; a martini contains gin by definition. Only if they mention vodka should you make one with Russia's favorite drink.
With time, however, various combinations have emerged to create deviation of martinis. Here are some popular ones.
Note that this is a very sweet drink and not for most men. Women, however, will probably enjoy it more, and since chocolate liqueur is a "cute" drink, I encourage you to keep some at home for challenging situations.
Raise Your Glass
As you can see, the old martini world was not enough, so fans of the lethal liquid have migrated from Gin Aston and developed far more drinking-friendly versions. While purists will still pass up all these new ones for the good ol' gin and vermouth with an olive, you should at least experiment with various kinds as your guests will likely want to try something new and trendier.
My triple dry martini is waiting for me. So until next time, enjoy yourselves and leave your car keys at home.