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Making and Presenting the Perfect Martini

With Martinis the proof is in the mixing. You can never have the same Martini twice, no matter how carefully you mix, but you can have a superb Martini every time if you take care in your mixing.

Tending the home bar is a public art that should be a delight for any drinking guest to behold. It looks easy, especially to those whose sight is already enhanced by two or three cocktails, but like anything worth doing it takes practice. There are skills, tips, tricks, and hints to icemanship, mixing, stirring, garnishing, pouring and serving good drinks. Learn them all and you will be well on your way to becoming a bartending artisan.


The tools of the trade

While the home bar may be fully stocked and accessorized, it is more likely that it is routinely created upon an empty counter space with whatever tools are handy. Either way there are a few necessities and many luxuries to have on hand when you shake up the day's Martini.

The necessities include:

  • 2 oz. shot glass;
  • a long-handled jigger with 1/2 oz. on one side and 1 1/2 oz. on the other
  • a long-handled bar spoon for stirring drinks
  • a coil-rimmed strainer for pouring ice-cold drinks from the shaker into the glass without sending the ice splaying all over the bar
  • two shakers with optional screw tops to allow for shaking or stirring - one metal (stays cold longer) and one glass

A few things it is always nice to have on hand, but by no means necessary for mixing a chill Martini include:

  • tongs for ice
  • a nice paring knife for a twist of lemon peel
  • olive grabber
  • set of small teaspoons
  • eyedropper so as not to overdo the vermouth for your guest who is fanatical about his Martini being extra dry

Tell A good joke while you mix

A guy walks into a bar and orders a Martini, 25 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. The bartender sizes him up, decides not to argue and mixes the drink exactly as ordered. When he slides it across the bar to the customer he asks: "You want a lemon twist with that?" The man leans across the bar, grabs the bartender and yells in his face: "When I want a lemonade I'll ask for one!"

How to break the ice

Be cold. Be very, very cold. On a hot summer's day your guests will thank you for it. Even on a cold winter's night if you are mixing Martinis your guests will be thankful for the ice-cold chill that warms their insides when all is said and done. Ice can make or break a party. Make sure you have enough of it. Store bought cracked ice is cool, clean, and convenient. If your water is especially hard, cloudy, or chlorinated, consider buying bottled water to make ice out of, mix scotch with, and to drink. Ice trays that make numerous small cubes are superior to the older trays that make 8 to 12 great big ice cubes.

Cracked ice is best for stirring a really cold Martini. Use a plastic zip-lock type baggie if you don't have an ice-crusher, blender or some such ice making device. Place the ice in the bag, cover the bag with a dishcloth or towel, and bang away with the flat side of a meat tenderizer or other blunt instrument. Don't whack for too long, just until you've broken up most of the bigger cubes.

Recite a quote

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously on top of one another." -- W. Somerset Mougham

Creating the perfect mix

Mixing is like playing tennis. It is easy to learn how to hit the ball -- or pour a jigger, but it is difficult, often agonizing, to reach the level of a pro. Just as a tennis pro can explain the different strokes necessary to elevate your game to the next level, we can give you tips and hints on how to mix up a dream cocktail. Yet, ultimately perfecting it is entirely up to you.

  • Gin should always be kept in the freezer. Anything with more than about 30% alcohol (60 proof) will not freeze, but will maintain a viscous, ice-cold consistency. Vermouth should be kept in the refrigerator as keeping it on the wine cart or in a cupboard will see it loose its flavor in little more than a week.
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  • Ice should be cracked, not crushed, and there should be lots of it. You can never use too much ice when mixing a good Martini.
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  • Use a 2 oz bar glass if you have one (you can even chill your shot glass). Remember that most bar glasses are imprecise. Find one that is close to exact, and try to use it every time for consistency's sake. Trust the glass, or the jigger, not your eye.
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  • Use a different bar glass for each ingredient, or rinse out the one you are using between ingredients.
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  • The shaker, metal or glass, should be kept in the freezer until needed.
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  • Gin should be poured first and could enough that it steams as it drains through the ice.
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  • All other ingredients should be poured starting with the one most called for (i.e. 1 oz. poured before 1/2 oz.)
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  • Stirring is always preferable to shaking. Thanks to James Bond, more Martinis are shaken than stirred, bruising the gin and changing the flavor of the cocktail. Unless a recipe calls for vigorous shaking, use a long handled bar spoon and give the ingredients a good stir, letting them blend gently with each other so that you can almost see how they fit together. For proper dilution, stir each Martini at least 20 times. While it's not preferred, you can stir several Martinis into a mix at once.
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  • If you must shake, shake right. Don't just rock the shaker back and forth a few times, put some muscle into it. Shaking is supposed to be for vigorous blending, so hold that shaker out there and shake it diagonally with a good steady rhythm. Shake only one drink at a time.
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  • Use a good strainer and pour at once into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.
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  • Add your desired garnish, olive, onion, lemon twist.

Recite another quote

Johnny Carson once said "Happiness is finding two olives in your martini when you're hungry."

Glassware

Glassware is the accessory that gives that finishing touch which can make or break the presentation. How many glasses you should have depends on the size of your gathering place, and how many drinkers you entertain. No point in stocking up on tons of glasses and stemware that will never be used. It is just as important to always have enough for the surprise extra guest who tags along with your invited friends.

Martinis, unless they're on the rocks, are always served in Martini glasses - short or tall doesn't matter. It is a good idea to keep several chilled in the freezer at all times. There's no telling when an uninvited guest would be impressed by your stunning hospitality and delighted with an ice-cold Martini.

At Glass With a Twist we offer three different types of personalized martini glasses. Our unique martini glasses are full size and made of high quality glass. We offer an 8 oz. capacity Classic Martini glass, an 8 oz. Stemless Martini glass, and a unique 9 oz. Z-Stem Martini glass.

Variations on the Traditional Martini

  • For a Dirty Martini, coat your chilled glass with about 1/2 ounce of chilled olive juice, and also add about another 1/2 ounce to the ice with the vermouth.
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  • For a sweeter Martini that retains the clean, crisp demeanor of the drink, try a Sunkist. Shake 3 ounces of Bombay Sapphire Gin, and one ounce Cointreau together and pour in a chilled glass, coated with a little fresh lime juice.
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  • Want something a little more flavorful? Try a Kamikaze Martini. Shake 2 ounces Absolut Citron Vodka, 1 ounce Cointreau, and 1 ounce lime juice. Garnish with a lemon, lime, or orange slice.