This is the beginning of a series dedicated to gin and a series dedicated to the most famous of gin cocktails, the Martini. For starters, I will insist you recognize the Martini is a cocktail that has 3 ingredients originally, and that to make the cocktail, you need some variation of those 3 ingredients. Calling 3 oz of gin chilled a martini is nonsense. Calling anything in a martini glass a Martini? Even more nonsense. Knock it off or time travel back to the 80s and 90s please. The Martini is 2 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth, a couple of dashes of orange bitters. From there, you can experiment in remarkable ways still, varying your vermouth, using any of the hundreds of gin brands that have popped up around the world the past decade, changing your bitters, etc. For at least my purposes though, the Martini template is above. There are a bunch of neat variations that will probably also get brought up in this series, like using bianco vermouth, making a Perfect Martini (equal parts dry and sweet), replacing vermouth with a different aperitif, bitters changes, and so on. This past weekend, the Martini played a particular role for me, one it was probably intended to serve at the 3-Martini lunch meeting. It loosened me up and gave me a little life before heading into an evening of revelry with friends, celebrating a marriage. My vermouth choices at home or often limited to brands that do 375 ml bottles, so that I don't end up with an oxidized and disgusting bottle of once delicious vermouth. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR VERMOUTH IN THE FRIDGE. That said, don't fret if you discover your favorite only comes in wine-sized bottles. I'll do a post soon on what to do with vermouth before it goes bad! Ingredients: Maplewood Spruce Gin - 2 oz
This is one of my favorite local gins. You'll see quite a few gins end up on here in the next few weeks, because Chicago has 4 or 5 really superb gins. I'll let Maplewood describe this one: "A plentiful amount of Colorado spruce tips, rooibos tea, citrus, lavender, and traditional gin botanicals are utilized to evoke deep forest pine notes that blend with bright citrus and meadow-like floral depth." This description is pretty spot-on, and the meadow-like floral depth and the excellent body to this gin really stand out as complex elements that add to this gin (rather than complexity for its own sake) and make it stand out. Carpano Dry - 1 oz
Carpano is an Italian vermouth brand that's been around in some part since the late 1700s. I'm not going to attempt a minor Vermouth history at this point, but the Dry is a newer product from Carpano (owned by the Branca company famous for Fernet Branca) combining classic vermouth flavors with the company's attention to quality and detail. When it arrived in Chicago, I recall comparing it to the other standard dry vermouths on the market, and it really blows most of the imported vermouths away in terms of flavor and quality. Regan's Orange Bitters (not pictured) - 3 dashes
These are the gold standard in orange bitters, developed by Gary "Gaz" Regan. R.I.P. More on them in a future bitters post. Lemon Peel - garnish (I don't waste olives in a martini) I express my lemon peel over the top, rub the rim of the glass quickly, and then place it in some fancy fashion on or in the glass, depending on how I feel.
And remember, friends, ALWAYS KEEP YOUR VERMOUTH IN THE FRIDGE.