Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Right Way to Make a Martini (ADDENDUM)

I never thought this would happen in 20 years, but I have to make a major revision to my original 'The Right Way to Make a Martini (The Long Version)' that I posted last June.

Reason: my good friend Derek Brown, whom the Wall Street Journal almost called the Best Bartender in the Nation, has finally constructed a gin martini based on a talented knowledge of mixological history and cocktail flavor balance that I will dare to call The Best Martini on Planet Earth. It is truly incredible, and surprisingly, very easy to make.

But first, my recipe (ok, really not mine, but the one I promoted), which I described in June's blog post, was this:
- 1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth (stored in fridge)
- 1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin (stored at room temperature)
- 1 Dash Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6

Stir with cubed ice for at least 45 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garish with 2 olives, lemon peel, or pickled onion, depending on your mood.
But Derek's recipe, which is truly genius (and I almost never use the word genius) is this:
- 1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (stored in fridge)
- 1 oz Tanqueray 10 (stored in the freezer)
- 1 Dash of 50/50 pre-mix of Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6 and The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters

Stir with cubed ice for at least 45 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Cut a wide swath of lemon peel (without the pith). Twist peel over the edge of the glass (but not directly over the liquid), letting a bit of the lemon oils fall onto the drink. Discard lemon peel into the trash, ie, not putting it into the cocktail.
The result is one of the most perfectly balanced and unique flavors I've tasted. It really tastes like nothing else. It's colder Derek's way because the gin is stored in the freezer. Since Dolin is lighter than Martini & Rossi, you need to do a 50/50 (vermouth/gin) mixture. However, if you do a 50/50 mix with Dolin and Beefeater, the gin can't stand up to the vermouth because Beefeater has a lighter juniper-based botanical profile and the result is an overly vermouthy mixture. The choice of Tanqueray 10 is perfect because it tastes richer and slightly more citrusy than Beefeater. Of course, the orange bitters combo is perfect because Regan's tends to be more bitter than The Bitter Truth so they keep each other in check. Keeping the gin in the freezer reduces the amount of ice that gets melted when you stir the ingredients so it's a tighter, cleaner texture in the mouth -- nice and taut across the surface of the cold liquid, too. Putting the lemon peel into the drink over-powers the cocktail with lemonyness and masks all the other subtle qualities, so just throwing it away is best.

It's so simple but so perfect. Try it.
The minute I'm not pregnant, I'm trying this. Seriously, I may pack a cooler and take it to Labor and Delivery with me. Thanks for giving me something to live for.

Dolin dry vermouth is hard to find. The only place in DC that I know carries it is ACE Beverage on New Mexico Ave NW. They also carry both types of bitters.
They carry Dolin at Schneider's of Capitol Hill. Also Noily Pratt and Carpano Antica.
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