by Wilbur Witt
My affection for martinis is well documented. I ordered my first one at the Berry Creek Country Club in 2005. Up until then I was a whiskey drinker. That went back to my Nashville days. I was living in my studio on Westend Avenue, sleeping under my mixing console and didn't have any means of refrigeration. With no way to supply cold beer, a bottle of Beam was handier. I learned to drink it Nashville style, from a Red Solo cup, mixing it with gums and teeth. http://youtu.be/BKZqGJONH68
One night, for no apparently reason, I ordered a martini. I consider this to have been divine inspiration. Now, if you are a martini drinker you will know it from the first sip. It is a taste you remember from somewhere, and you welcome it back. If you are not a martini aficionado you will pass the drink to someone else. From my first sipI knew that I'd found my drug of choice.
In no time at all I had my shakers, glasses, and olives, and I was in business! I began with gin. I fell for the marketing and bought Beefeater, but found I actually preferred Bombay. The vermouth stayed a constant, Martini and Rossi extra dry. My logic was simple. First, it had the word "Martini" right on the label, and two, it was extra dry, and that's what the bartender told me during my first encounter with the king of cocktails, so, being a simple old boy from Austin I stuck with it. I tried vodka. Vodka didn't have any "legs" to it, and I've always been highly suspicious of any liquor that doesn't have a "bite." It's like a woman who just lays there. Doesn't matter how pretty she is there's no relationship.
At first I only shook my martinis. At some point in time I stirred. I've heard that James Bond recipe for a vodka martini, shaken, not stirred, and one, he's drinking vodka, and two he's just wrong about the mechanics. I eventually fine tuned the mixing process to swirling. I still occasionally will shake, depends on the mood I'm in. If I want ice crystals in the cocktail I'll shake, if I'm after a smoother drink, I swirl. I never waste a martini. In the making of a video I found what appeared to be shreds of toilette paper in my glass, and if you will note, that martini did not go to waste! http://youtu.be/nhVjw2Itjak. I can take or leave the olives, depending upon if I've had dinner or not. If not, I do olives.
The blend is a preference of mine, also. In the approach to the driest martini possible I've tried several ratios of vermouth to gin, but given my "druthers" I fill the shaker half full of ice, pour in an ounce of vermouth, shake that around to saturate the ice, strain the vermouth out, leaving samples clinging to the ice, and then introduce the gin. This renders the proper martini. I make one drink at a time, changing the ice for each one. I do not like a bar where they bring you the shaker, filled with ice and martini, and the cocktail sits there like a beached whale soaking up water.
And the reason it will soak up water is rule number one when co-habitating with a martini; martinis don't make friends in a hurry. The usual martini has a LOT of liquor in it. Using the shaker cap as a measure, mine are almost two to one when compared to a bloody Mary, margarita. Consequently, you sip the drink with respect. I never drive anything after I drink , and especially after a martini night. And I think the term, "Drink Responsibly" is an oxymoron. Just like the term, "Vomit Politely." The most responsible thing you can do is not drive.
Ladies and martinis are an excellent mix. If they are already a friend of the drink you have a highly intelligent partner to share time with. If it is their first voyage you need to explain to them that the martini is a very unique drink in that the introduction of vermouth nullifies the effects of the alcohol. Now, I would never be so unkind as to take advantage of a lady who was under the influence, but I am not saying I wouldn't allow her take advantage of me if I was under the influence. I believe in equality if the sexes.
There are many variations of martini. Apple flavors, various vodka recipes, but I prefer my classic blend. It's always there, always straight up, and meets me on equal ground, for about the first two. If there are martini enthusiasts out there please share you ideas, and for those of you of whom have never partook give this classic a try. I think you'll be surprised.