Monday, January 9, 2012

THE MARTINI EXPERIENCE

The martini is an elegant drink that always reminds me of James Bond and his famous line from the 1958 movie, Dr. NO, “shaken and not stirred”. The James Bond martini known as the Vesper, is most often mixed using two parts Gordon or Bombay gin and one part Grey Goose vodka or an equivalent. Then one half part Lillet a french aperitif that is a little hard to find in the states so you could substitute with a fifty fifty mix of tonic and champagne, it is a very similar taste but not as elegant as the real thing. Top it off with a twist of lemon and a slice of lemon peel. Now this is one of the most famous martini's that comes to mind.
How ever there is the most popular martini made with gin and vermouth garnished with a splash of olive brine and an olive or a twist of lemon with a lemon peal. This is probably what you will get at your conventional wet bar. When ordering a martini keep in mind that a dry martini has very little if not any vermouth at all and is mostly gin. Sometimes a martini is spiced up with flavored liquors such as chocolate or even peach vodka.

You will want to experiment with your garnish as the conventional olive is not always the best compliment for the over all flavors when adding flavored brandy or vodka and may come off tasting very bad. Just think fruity for fruit and chocolates for chocolate, you get the idea. I have heard of coating the rim with cocoa or flavored sugar. A dry martini with vodka has very little flavor as vodka is almost tasteless. Gin is usually made using juniper berry's giving your cocktail a slight fruity flavor and an olive is usually the best compliment. You may wish to experiment with olives that are stuffed with garlic or cheese other than the conventional pimento.

But you might come to realize if you are a frequent martini connoisseur that the shape of the martini glass is unique to the conventional martini. That is mostly because the shape serves the over all experience typical to the flavors incurred in a common martini. Just as wines have a delicate bouquet and flavor that is complimented by the shape of the wine glass, so also the unique shape of the martini glass accomplishes some what the same results to the martini.

The shape of the martini glass was invented during prohibition and is believed to have been so that the drink was easier to dispose of if you were in the unfortunate situation such as a raid or search. But actually the stem allows the drink to stay colder longer because you are not as tempted to hold your drink by the bowl as you would with wine or cognac, which allows the beverage to be warmed to body temperature giving off more aroma and thus more flavor. Also the shape of a martini glass bowl is perfect for surface tension allowing sipping the oils of the lemon or olive and allowing it to reach your lips and tongue adding the flavor with out going up the nose or residing on the inside edge of the glass or your upper lip.

It is believed the drink its self was created in the 1850's by a famous bar tender at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco California named Jerry Thomas. He was said to have made the drink up spur of the moment for a drifter who paid him with a gold nugget and asked him to make him something special before he left on his journey to Martinez California. The actual drink was similar to today’s recipes but I am sure it tasted quite different as he only had old time liquors to mix with. Jerry named the drink a Martinez and the name was changed to Martini sometime after prohibition.

So experience a martini with a nice martini glass and the proper martini mix for your occasion. Don’t forget to garnish your cocktail because presentation is just as important as the drink itself. Just as it is with most elegant mixed drinks. The same is true with wines, cognacs and brandy s. Presentation is key! Although flavor is important, it is important to involve all of your senses, to attain the fullest pleasurable experience from your martini.