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                                                                  The martini is made with gin and vermouth and is garnished with a twist of lemon peel or an olive—period. King Arthur’s knights searched in vain for the Holy Grail. The Spaniards sought the gold of El Dorado and the longevity of the Fountain of Youth. Lieutenant Gerard hunted Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. There is another modern quest, however, that has generated as much zeal and excitement: the search for the “perfect martini.” Armed with sterling silver shakers, vermouth droppers, and plenty of attitude and individuality, home bartenders mix and experiment with their martinis with alchemical precision. Meanwhile, devoted seekers of the perfect martini will flock to touted cocktail lounges like pilgrims to a revered shrine. It is a paradox indeed that the quintessential cocktail is so elusive. The origin of the martini is also as elusive as the Grail itself. The controversy over who sired the first one spans the colorful to the prosaic, and we may never know if this “elixir of quietude,” “silver bullet,” and “Fred Astaire in a glass” was named for a man, a rifle, or a vermouth producer. Whether named for a thirsty traveler on his way to Martinez or for Martini di Arma di Taggia, bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City, the martini is recognized as the world’s premier cocktail; its stylized icon for the cocktail lounge is as universally recognizable as the symbol for the stop sign. Many excellent books detail the history and evolution of the martini and... read more The martini is made with gin and vermouth and is garnished with a twist of lemon peel or an olive—period. King Arthur’s knights searched in vain for the Holy Grail. The Spaniards sought the gold of El Dorado and the longevity of the Fountain of Youth. Lieutenant Gerard hunted Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. There is another modern quest, however, that has generated as much zeal and excitement: the search for the “perfect martini.” Armed with sterling silver shakers, vermouth droppers, and plenty of attitude and individuality, home bartenders mix and experiment with their martinis with alchemical precision. Meanwhile, devoted seekers of the perfect martini will flock to touted cocktail lounges like pilgrims to a revered shrine. It is a paradox indeed that the quintessential cocktail is so elusive. The origin of the martini is also as elusive as the Grail itself. The controversy over who sired the first one spans the colorful to the prosaic, and we may never know if this “elixir of quietude,” “silver bullet,” and “Fred Astaire in a glass” was named for a man, a rifle, or a vermouth producer. Whether named for a thirsty traveler on his way to Martinez or for Martini di Arma di Taggia, bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City, the martini is recognized as the world’s premier cocktail; its stylized icon for the cocktail lounge is as universally recognizable as the symbol for the stop sign. Many excellent books detail the history and evolution of the martini and rhapsodize its lore, so it will only be necessary to touch upon a few highlights here. It should immediately be noted that the early versions of the cocktail—Jerry Thomas’s Martinez of 1887, Harry Johnson’s martini cocktail of 1888, and di Taggia’s version from the early 20th century—were all supersweet Neanderthals compared with today’s bone-dry descendants. Thomas called for sweetened Old Tom gin, maraschino liqueur, and a whopping wineglass of Italian vermouth, and even di Taggia mixed equal parts gin and vermouth. During Prohibition, the martini gradually saw the diminishing of its sweet ingredients and a turn toward dryness. By the end of World War II, the martini was reaching a ratio of eight to one, and everyone you know probably has some joke about how to make a dry martini. Bernard DeVoto, whose book The Hour is a paean to the martini, proclaimed the martini to be the “supreme American gift to world culture”; H. L. Mencken pronounced it “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.” But the sonnet was in jeopardy in the 1970s when President Jimmy Carter denounced the “three-martini lunch,” and a sudden health craze cast out the martini like a contagious leper. A critic in Esquire magazine railed that the drink was a bitter, medicinal-tasting beverage that stood for everything from phony bourgeois values and social snobbery to jaded alcoholism and latent masochism. Though it seemed headed for the funeral pyre, the martini reemerged from the flames and has become virtually irreproachable. On a closing note, there is a moment in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms when the ex-soldier Frederic Henry celebrates his escape from the war with a satisfying meal. While eating he deliberates, “The sandwiches came and I ate three and drank a couple more martinis. I had never tasted anything so cool and lean. They made me feel civilized.” Many opinions exist as to what makes for a perfect martini—probably more opinions than there are people. This is in small part due to the schizophrenic age in which we live, and to a larger degree to the ruminations made after pondering the empty glass of a second martini. Shaking or stirring is a personal preference. For every adept who stirs, another shakes. The fact remains, however, that shaking will get the martini colder. And if you stir, larger ice cubes will need to be stirred longer than smaller ones. There are also those who complain that shaking bruises the gin. That gin can be bruised in the first place has some folks scratching their heads. Gin cannot be bruised. Another issue is whether to keep gin in the freezer for optimum coldness. Some people swear by this, while others practically swear at it. The latter camp argues that gin should not be kept in the freezer because it will not dilute properly when mixed with ice. Try it both ways; you will undoubtedly agree that the best martinis are made with gin kept in the freezer. Vermouth should be kept in the fridge, if only to prolong shelf life. With the dry martinis of today, a bottle of vermouth may last almost as long as a bottle of bitters. Whether to include olives—whole, pitted, or stuffed with pimiento—or whether to squeeze a twist of lemon peel into the drink is a matter of choice. Chill standard-size cocktail glasses in the freezer. If one point is unanimously agreed upon, it is that a martini should be dry. The amount of vermouth is negligible at best and will hardly alter the amount of alcohol in the cocktail glass. So, how do you keep your martini dry? One suggestion is that you use an atomizer for the vermouth, but just be certain it’s clean! Another suggestion is that you store your gin in the shadow of a vermouth bottle. Devotees are also known to pass the cap of the vermouth bottle quickly over the gin. The least plausible, but perhaps most amusing, tactic is to place a photograph of the man who invented vermouth in front of the gin. On an unfortunate note, many people call almost anything in a martini glass a martini. Interlopers may share its name but not its glory. INGREDIENTS 3 ounces gin Dry vermouth Green olives or twist of lemon peel INSTRUCTIONS Depending on your taste, mix 5 to 8 parts gin to 1 part vermouth for a dry martini. Use less vermouth for a drier martini. Stir in a pitcher half filled with ice, or shake with ice; then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with green olives or lemon peel. A “bone-dry” martini, also known as “pass the bottle,” contains no vermouth whatsoever.

                                                                  Ingredients
                                                                  • Yes No 3 oz gin
                                                                  • Yes No dry vermouth
                                                                  • Yes No lemon peel
                                                                  • Variations:
                                                                  • The Gibson: The Gibson is made exactly like the martini, but a small cocktail onion is substituted for the olive. A number of stories exist regarding its origin, but the consensus is that it was named for the illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the era’s paradigm of female beauty, the Gibson Girl. Gibson and his cronies would often take a break from work and visit the Player’s Club for a few drinks. While journalists may feel inspired after a drink or two, an artist needs an absolutely steady hand. Gibson furtively asked the bartender, Charlie Connolly, to give him pure ice water. The drink was distinguished by a silver-skinned cocktail onion. Patrons soon began ordering their martinis with onions and calling them Gibsons to honor the inventor. Double onions were also ordered, paying homage to certain physical assets of the Gibson Girl.
                                                                  • Astoria: Add a dash of bitters.
                                                                  • Blue Martini: Substitute blue curaçao for the vermouth, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
                                                                  • Cajun Martini: Noted chef Paul Prudhomme invented this drink by infusing a cut-up jalapeño pepper in a bottle of gin for half a day. The spicy liquor replaces the ordinary gin. Garnish with a slice of green tomato or pickled jalapeño. Vodka may be substituted for the gin.
                                                                  • Dirty Martini: Add a splash of olive brine, and garnish with a green olive.
                                                                  • Fino Martini: Substitute fino sherry for the vermouth.
                                                                  • Knickerbocker Martini: Substitute equal parts sweet and dry vermouth for the dry vermouth, and add a dash of bitters.
                                                                  • Montgomery: Named for a British general who would not go into battle unless his troops outnumbered the opposition 25 to 1, this martini uses the same proportion of gin to vermouth.
                                                                  • Naked Martini: Omit the vermouth. After shaking, turn in the direction of France, bow, and pour.
                                                                  • Odyssey: Mix Magellan French gin, Bossiere Italian vermouth, and a Greek cracked olive in brine.
                                                                  • Sakétini: Substitute 1 ounce sake for the vermouth.
                                                                  Cuisine:YesNonew york
                                                                  Yields: 1drink
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                                                                  • Yes No
                                                                    brine
                                                                  • Yes No
                                                                    pour
                                                                  • Yes No
                                                                    mix
                                                                    Equipment:
                                                                  • Yes No
                                                                    gibson
                                                                    Brands:
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                                                                    Gibson

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