Category Archives: Martini Style
Have you ever felt intimidated by the constant arguments over “the right way” to prepare a martini? Wonder no more, thanks to this excellent video by master bartender Ms. Charlotte Voisey. Not only are the techniques (both practical and presentational) that she describes useful for a number of cocktails, she describes them all in an adorable British accent, and she uses Hendrick’s gin. Really, how can you go wrong?
This recipe comes courtesy of the folks who make the Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, and it nicely showcases both the aesthetic and flavor-related strengths of their product; so far as the Bartender’s cocktail-learning quest is concerned, it also demonstrated the supreme importance of using good-quality spirits when mixing a drink. In this instance, she initially thought the drink interesting but a little bitter; when a bit of tinkering with the ingredients failed to produce something more palatable, she set the recipe aside.
Revisiting it some time later and with a far greater vodka selection, the Bartender decided to try making it with Kirkland Signature vodka. And lo and behold – a drink that had previously been mostly a novelty suddenly became extremely tasty. (For the record, plain Skyy is rapidly losing its place on her liquor shelf, although their citrus offering is still excellent.)
This is also an excellent example of how an unusual ingredient and a fancy garnish can really dress up a drink. If you ordered one of these in a nice bar, it’d probably come served by a uniformed attendant with a price tag bordering on the obscene.
Adam & Eve Martini
2 ounces good-quality vodka
3 ounces apple puree (stage 1 baby food works best)
1 ounce Wild Hibiscus syrup
1 hibiscus blossom + maraschino cherry for garnish
Take one hibiscus blossom and stuff it with a maraschino cherry. Shake the rest of the ingredients with ice, then strain into glass. Spear the flower/cherry garnish with a chopstick and lay across the top of your cocktail glass.
“I think it’s good.”
“I don’t know, it just seems like…shouldn’t there be something more?”
“It’s three ingredients. That makes a cocktail.”
While the Rebel Bartender is not one to generally trust to others’ declarations, in this instance, she decided to assent to her husband’s wisdom. Because while there may be something impressive about a drink that delicately balances five or six different flavors like a juggler spinning plates, there’s also a lot to be said for simplicity. And in this instance, simplicity works surprisingly well.
This recipe was actually devised at the request of one of the Bartender’s friends, who tried an advertised “Blood Orange Martini” at a restaurant and found it to be unimpressive. The Bartender’s original idea for a nonalcoholic base – fresh-squeezed blood orange juice – was stymied by the relative lack of imagination in Arizona produce aisles. Fortunately, however, she came across some Italian Blood Orange Soda at Trader Joe’s, and it turned out to go surprisingly well with (of all things) Bombay Sapphire gin. Other gins would probably work, too, but be forewarned that you’ll likely be trading the subtlety of Sapphire for more of a strong juniper flavor. Which, depending on your tastes, might be what you want.
Blood Orange Martini
1 1/2 ounces Bombay Sapphire
1/4 ounce lemon juice
3 ounces blood orange soda, chilled
Shake the gin and lemon juice with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Gently pour the soda in over the other ingredients, swirling to mix. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Hailing from the Hendrick’s website, this little gem provided the Bartender with that rarest of all cocktail sentiments – the absolute conviction that it needs no tinkering or improving whatsoever. Fun as it can be to swap around ingredients and change the proportions to find that just-right balance, there’s also a distinct joy in finding that recipe that’s already perfectly formed. It’s much like finding a pearl washed up on the beach, and almost as rare an experience.
The Bartender found this one particularly surprising – she had expected the grapefruit to completely overwhelm the other flavors, but instead found that it showcased the unusual flavors in Hendrick’s gin quite admirably. And then there’s that lovely pink color; fortunately, this time it’s attached to a drink that’s both tasty and visually striking.
Shake all ingredients and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a citrus twist, cucumber balls, or music device appropriate to your time period.
Funny thing about buying pomegranate juice to make grenadine – you end up with a lot of juice left over. Not one to waste perfectly good ingredients, the Bartender flipped back through some of her older recipes to see if there were any that might prove assistive in putting the stuff to use.
This particular recipe actually proved doubly helpful; a while back, she had also purchased a bottle of Cîroc, but it had proven too bitter for her initial “shake it up straight for a martini” idea. The fruity richness that sets it apart from other vodkas, however, both stands up to and complements the strong flavor of the pomegranate juice, while said flavor is more than enough to hide the vodka’s bitterness that otherwise comes out along the sides of the tongue.
Should you find yourself without grape-based vodka, however, your regular mixer should do the trick, if with a slight loss in depth of flavor.
1 1/2 ounces Cîroc vodka
1 1/2 ounces pomegranate juice
3/4 ounce triple sec
Pour first three ingredients into the shaker; add ice and squeeze lime wedge into it. Shake and strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel, or something involving pomegranate seeds if you’re feeling extra-creative.
Due to technical difficulties, the final installment of Newly Rebellious is being postponed (though hopefully not for long); in the meantime, here’s a recipe for a nifty twist on a classic, courtesy of Cobban, a kooky friend, fabulous karaoke partner and all-around excellent guy.
Cobban (whose talents include video editing, and can be seen hamming it up during a weekend home alone here – give it a watch, he’s hilarious) is very fond of Manhattans – in his words, “That sound of the ice in the shaker? Just like the cat with the can opener, for me.” However, like all professional drinkers and their favorite cocktails, he prefers his to be made in a particular fashion, with particular ingredients – in this case, Maker’s Mark bourbon.
Of particular note is the lower vermouth proportion; Maker’s Mark is already fairly sweet, so a traditional 2:1 ratio ends up being almost candy-like – or so the Bartender is told. Of course, the inclusion of maraschino cherry juice seems a step in the wrong direction, there, but this isn’t her recipe. (And, in all fairness, the results are really quite tasty.)
3 ounces Maker’s Mark Bourbon
3/4 ounce sweet (red) vermouth
Dash of bitters
Dash of maraschino cherry juice
Put a bit of maraschino cherry juice along with a cherry in the bottom of your cocktail glass. Shake remaining ingredients with ice and strain into glass. Optional: Add an orange slice for extra garnish.
After the Bartender waved goodbye to the last batch of guests (Rebel Houseguests?), she discovered to her delight that they had left a present on her home bar; specifically, a bottle of Grey Goose La Poire. This particular spirit had been on her to-try list for a while – pear vodka is fairly unusual – but given its cost and her generally-unimpressed reaction to the classic Goose, it had never quite made it to an actual purchase. So what better way to try the stuff out than on someone else’s dime?
Fortunately, it’s a much more interesting spirit than plain Grey Goose. Surprisingly strong and non-sweet for such a fruity spirit, it could add an extra dimension to a number of drinks, and likely wouldn’t need to be used in large quantities to do so. This Peartini recipe is an exception, designed to complement and show off La Poire’s qualities. It comes originally from the Grey Goose website, although the Bartender has done a bit of tweaking to get the sweet-sour balance just right – hence the name.
2 ounces Grey Goose La Poire
1/4 ounce amaretto
3/4 ounce syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 ripe pear
Shake all (liquid) ingredients and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Cut a thin, nearly translucent slice of pear and lay it along the inside of the glass. Enjoy the rest of the pear with the martini – they’re tasty!
Vodka Nearly-Three-Weeks is officially over. The Bartender has enough of the stuff stocked to last her until Judgment Day. If she has to look at another vodka martini in the next six months she’s probably going to be ill. So what better way to celebrate than to have a drink based on her favorite underappreciated spirit?
In all fairness, the Bohemian Bicycle (creation of Doug Levy from the marvelous Feast in Tucson, re-creation mine and fairly close to the original) is not your typical martini-with-a-twist. And while it violates the Bartender’s usual rule of keeping to ingredients that cost $30-or-less a bottle, it’s well worth it: St. Germain runs about $40, comes in a beautiful art deco bottle, and is a remarkably versatile ingredient that’s excellent for adding a touch of herby-floral sweetness to any concoction. Not to mention the sheer class derived from including a French liqueur distilled from elderflower in your ingredients.
Two notes before we begin. First, this is a recipe that definitely depends on the subtleties of specific liquors for its flavor; ergo, substituting a different type of gin is not recommended. Also, note the range in the lime juice; the strength of the juice can vary significantly depending on the age of the limes involved (older limes have had much of the moisture evaporated out of them and therefore have a more concentrated flavor). The goal is for the lime flavor to give it an extra zing without being overpowering. Remember, the key word, as always, is experimentation – that’s the whole fun of it!
1 ounce Bombay Sapphire
1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 to 3/4 ounce lime juice
1 leaf fresh basil
Shake first three ingredients together and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Fill with club soda. Float shredded basil leaf on top. Garnish with a lime wheel, or a folded basil leaf and lime wedge on a pick.
Feeling a little tired of Guinness this St. Patrick’s Day? Want something similarly artificial and festive-looking but different from the standard green beer? Give this drink a go. It’s surprisingly tasty, in that FD&C Green-No.-5 kind of way. Plus the color is hilarious – the Rebel Spouse refers to it as a “Green Thing”, although that’s not technically its name. And it has the advantage of being incredibly easy to make, and thus less than intimidating even once you’ve downed a green beer or three.
1 1/2 ounces Midori
1 1/2 ounces Sour Apple Pucker
1 1/2 ounces sour mix
Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish options include the standard maraschino cherry or brightly colored soft candies – for a festive twist, see if you can find gummi shamrocks to spear on a pick.
Given that it’s Vodka Week, and given that the Bartender has (until today) been short a set of shot glasses to properly freeze, she has been evaluating each in the next best medium: the vodka martini. Not only has it provided a framework within which each spirit can display its talents, but her general preference for gin martinis has assured her ability to simultaneously discern the vermouth from the spirit itself, judge how the two combine (if at all), and also to analyze how the vodka versions stack up in terms of overall flavor.
The vodka martini is perhaps best-known as James Bond’s preferred drink, and as with so many things, Agent 007 knew exactly the right way to do it. “Ice cold” is your watchphrase here, and as we’ve learned, shaking tends to make a drink colder and slightly more diluted than stirring. Gin martinis are traditionally stirred, true, but a vodka martini both benefits from the additional chill of shaking and bears the dilution far better than its cousin.
One final note: while the Bartender does not believe in bone-dry Martinis of either sort (what’s the point of making the Martini if there’s no vermouth flavor to complement the spirit?), vodka has a naturally subtler flavor than gin, and therefore works best in a drier setting. Your ultimate preferred proportions will likely take a few tries to discover, but hey – the trial-and-error is part of the fun!
2 oz. high-quality vodka
1/4 oz. dry vermouth
Shake both ingredients with a good handful of ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with your favorite Martini garnish – lemon twist, olives, cocktail onion, etc. Bonus points if you manage to come up with a garnish especially appropriate to the vodka brand used.