• The Reynas

Choose your own adventure with the Martini

Updated: May 29


As many of you know, a few weeks ago we posted about the two predecessors of the Martini, the Manhattan and the Martinez. That was a deliberate attempt to set the stage for the brilliance of the Martini.

While it is known as the King of the Cocktails, it is also a very forgiving drink that each consumer can tweak to their personal preference. And that’s the main point of this post—experimenting with the Martini. Let us explain . . .


First, let’s take a quick journey back in time to where we left off in the Manhattan and Martinez post, where you, the clever teakwoodtavern.com reader, learned that the Martini evolved from the Manhattan and the Martinez.

At the turn of the century, there was a movement towards dry vermouth, and thus dry Martinis. (Remember, Manhattans and Martinez both used sweet vermouth.) In his book Imbibe!, David Wondrich quotes an 1897 newspaper interview with a New York Bartender, “When a customer comes in and orders a sweet drink . . . I know at once he’s from the country.”

On January 29, 1929, the 18th Amendment (i.e., Prohibition) became law, which resulted in liquors, liqueurs, bitters, and vermouth becoming scarce. Especially, the less boozy liquids. As Wondrich writes, “Who was bootlegging vermouth?”

Because of the lack of vermouth, the Martini because drier and boozier. After Prohibition was lifted, the damage was done and the Very Dry Martini was a staple.

Very Dry Martini

10:1 gin to vermouth

2.5 oz gin

0.25 oz dry vermouth (we prefer Doling dry)

Add ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir until chilled and diluted.

Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass.

This was the way that mid-twentieth century celebrities, such as Hemingway, Churchill, and Bogart, drank their Martinis—basically vermouthless. Regarding the midcentury Very Dry Martini, Wondrich says, “That generation was really aggressive at working the macho angle . . . People were afraid to say that they like vermouth in their drink.” Sadly, I think the ripples from that generation reach present day drinkers.

When I first started bartending in the early 2000s, the Very Dry Martini was the only version of the Martini that I served. I was told stories about these mythical beings who ordered Martinis with more vermouth, but I never saw one in person. Many in my generation still drink their Martinis in the Very Dry fashion. That’s the way that their fathers drank their Martinis, and that’s how their grandfathers drank their Martinis. Very few have taken the time to see if they would prefer something other than a Very Dry Martini. And that, my friends, is why we are here today.

Please set aside you preconceived notions about both how your order your Martini or whether you like a Martini at all. Come explore the Martini with Teakwood Tavern and figure out where you fall on the gin to vermouth (or vodka to vermouth) spectrum.

In the following video, Shen and I make three variations of the Martini: the Very Dry Martini; the Traditional Martini; and the Wet Martini.


Traditional Martini

2:1 gin to vermouth ration

2 oz gin

1 oz dry vermouth (we prefer Dolin dry)

Add ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir until chilled and diluted.

Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass.

Wet Martini

1:1 gin to vermouth ratio

1.5 oz gin

1.5 oz dry vermouth (we prefer Dolin dry)

Add ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir until chilled and diluted.

Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass.

We recommend that you make these three variations for yourself and determine which is your preference. We tasted the three variations in the video below.

As you saw in the last video, there’s a rhyme of reason for all three Martini styles. We won’t judge you if you prefer a Very Dry Martini. But we hope it’s truly because you enjoy that style, and not because that’s the only version you know. You owe it to yourself to drink the best, but how can you make that determination if you’ve never explored other Martini variations?

Here at Teakwood Tavern, we prefer a Traditional Martini with a slight twist.

Teakwood Tavern’s Martini Recipe

2 oz gin (Monkey 47, the Botanist, or Uncle Val’s Botanical are all fine choices)

1 oz dry vermouth (we recommend Dolin dry but we often play with other aromatized wine like Cocchi Americano or Lillet Blanc)

1 dash of orange bitters (2-3 dashes if we are feeling groovy)

Add ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir until chilled and diluted.

Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora glass.

As we said in one of the videos above, this experiment is the brainchild of Death & Co. In their latest cocktail book, Cocktail Codex, they present this experiment as a way to explore the balance of spirit to vermouth.


Unlike the mantra, "don't play with your food," it is clearly acceptable to, "play with your booze." That's the only way you will learn. And when it comes to cocktails, learning is more than half the fun!


Sending love at a high ratio,


John

#martini

#gin

#Monkey47

#Botanist

#UncleValsBotanical

#dryvermouth

#vermouth

#Dolindry

#CocchiAmericano

#LilletBlanc

#orangebitters

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