Earlier this week, our editor in chief published, on this very website, a recipe for a dirty martini. More specifically, the recipe was for a very, very dirty martini, one with enough briny, prickly olive juice to render it opaque, a condition that Jim claimed made this martini "perfect."
"The perfect martini is the color of fairly healthy seawater and it tastes about the same way," Jim argues. This is false and wrong and bad, and is highly disrespectful to one of the world's most versatile and misunderstood spirits.
In fact, the only correct statement in Jim's entire missive is that "Martinis are about gin." Martinis are, indeed, the ultimate way to celebrate this pungent, floral liquor of dubious origins (it's probably related to old Dutch medicines, but nobody really knows), and come with an added benefit of making you look cool as hell while drinking one. If you think you like your "martini" with vodka, then you're also wrong, and you need to either grow out of your early 20s or stick to Mike's Hard Lemonade or whatever it is you pound at Buffalo Wild Wings every Thursday night.
So it's a gin drink, and if you like gin as much as I do, then you can just drink the stuff neat out of a glass. But gin can be harsh as hell, with a strong alcoholic burn and a sometimes overwhelming herbal profile. You may want a more mellow gin drinking experience, and something that allows you to appreciate the medicinal, floral notes of the juniper berries present in the gin while cooling down the ethanol. You can accomplish this with a very cold, very dry martini.
Here's how you make the perfect martini:
Fill a shaker halfway with ice
Add splash of dry vermouth
Swirl the ice around with the vermouth for a few seconds before straining out the vermouth altogether
Add three jiggers (4.5 ounces) of gin, we recommend Bombay Sapphire
With a cocktail spoon, stir the gin and ice around for 10-15 seconds
Place a single olive in the bottom of a chilled cocktail glass
Strain the gin into the glass
This is the perfect martini. Anyone who disagrees has not yet had this martini.
Winston Churchill once remarked that, to him, drinking a martini meant drinking cold gin in the same room as a bottle of vermouth. He was close to the point — namely that "gin is good" — but let's not just shit all over dry vermouth here. It is important in this recipe. Yeah, it's fortified white wine, meaning it's probably made with bad white wine to begin with, but it has a tart, acidic flavor that, if subtle, plays nicely with gin's more acrid qualities. The slight addition of an olive's savory saltiness gives this flavor chord its requisite third note, and makes the entire drink something that is so much more than the sum of its parts.
As important as the flavor here is the method. The use of the shaker to stir the gin and vermouth over ice is a way to mellow everything down without diluting the drink too much or, even worse, giving you little ice chunks that slide through the strainer and into your glass. If done right, this drink should be ice cold, clean, smooth, and damn near crystal clear. And, when you're done with it, you can reward yourself with an olive. You'll have earned that olive, because you'll have made the perfect martini.
So, remember, Jim is wrong. The martini Jim drinks is actually not good. Jim should stick to sports.