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a primer for the martini neophyte |
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This has happened to you, probably, though you’ll never admit it. You were a young twenty-something, just walked into a swank bar, most likely, the sort of place that you’d never have dared to flash your pathetic excuse for a fake I.D., right? The bartender asked, "What can I get for you?" and you paused for a moment, realizing "Sex on the Beach" wasn’t, in all likelihood, an appropriate answer for any question in this sort of a place.

So instead you named the one "grown-up" drink that popped into your head. "I’ll have a martini," you said, authoritatively.

"How do you like your martini?" your bartender queried.

Your eyes opened wide; you bit your lip, you stammered, uncertainly, "Ummmmmm…"

So much for that illusion of worldliness. If only you’d read this first …

the raw materials of a martini
The classic martini is made with gin. If it’s made with vodka, purists will tell you, it’s not a martini at all, but a vodka martini, or a vodkatini. There's nothing wrong with a vodka martini -- just be aware that if you say you want a martini, that generally means gin, and anything otherwise will have to be specified.

Use the best liquor you can afford, because you will be able to taste the difference. The martini and vodka martini are not frou-frou cocktails, the sort whose hard liquor flavors are masked by sweet mixers. Bombay Sapphire is the elixir of choice when it comes to gin, but Tanqueray or Beefeater, which are slightly less expensive, are good bets as well. Stoli, Ketel One, or Grey Goose are all premium vodka choices; Absolut or Finlandia are more affordable and decent. As for vermouth, Martini and Rossi is fine, Cinzano or Noilly Prat a bit nicer.

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