Here's What's in My Dirty Martini

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Dirty Martini

This site was not started to be only me opining about issues of the day. I want to make sure I balance it a little with other topics about which I am passionate.
So, today, I will talk about martinis (my wife, my kids, cigars and scotch and other passions will come in later posts).

The Dirty Martini is the namesake drink of my blog site. It is my favorite martini.

Martinis were an American invention. There are several theories about the origin of the martini. The most accepted account is that the Martinez (the original name for the drink) was most likely invented in Martinez, California, where a plaque commemorating the birth of the martini can be found on the north-east corner of the intersection of Alhambra Avenue and Masonic Street.

The current day martini is a descendant of the Martinez, an older, sweeter cocktail consisting of two ounces of sweet vermouth, one ounce Old Tom gin (a sweetened variant), two dashes maraschino cherry liquid, and one dash bitters, shaken with ice, strained, and served with a twist of lemon. The earliest known reference to the Martinez is found in The Bon Vivant's Companion: Or How to Mix Drinks (1887 edition), authored by "Professor" Jerry Thomas, the head bartender at many famous watering holes, including the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco.

Thomas had a client who took a ferry from the Occidental Hotel on Montgomery Street to Martinez, then the state capital of California, every morning. Thomas mixed him the Martinez to keep the morning chill off, and named it after his client's destination. Distilled spirits in the 1800s were not regulated as they are today, and were sold at cask strength—upwards of 135 proof. Over time, the strength of the spirits decreased and smaller quantities of mixers were needed to make them palatable. Now it is more common to see a martini made with little or no vermouth.

Today we also see that Vodka has replaced Gin as the predominant ingredient in a martini. Purists, however, still believe that a true martini is made with Gin and not Vodka. Personally, I like them both but I lean toward Vodka as my main ingredient.

Here is the thing about martinis: as with any other drink you make the key to a great cocktail is the use of QUALITY ingredients. Life is too short to drink cheap booze, unless your budget can only afford the call brand varieties.

Using the lesser quality ingredients can be somewhat rectified by the next most important ingredient in making a martini – make it COLD! When I shake my martinis I do so until I can no longer hold the shaker in my hand. I mean that literally.

Next, I like to chill my cocktail (martini) glasses in the freezer. You may also chill one by adding ice and water to a glass but I find the freezer just makes it taste better. There is something about the martini glass fogging up after I remove it from the freezer that makes the anticipation of the martini more heightened.

I have a spread sheet with almost 700 recipes that I have been accumulating since 2000. When I see and interesting recipe I add it to my list. There is no way I will be able to drink all of them (without a liver transplant) but they’re fun to collect.

The last element of a martini is the garnish. In that list of recipes I have garnishes that include lemon twists, orange twists, olives (with a variety of stuffing’s), chocolate syrup, candy canes, various rimming sugars and the list goes on. I also purchased some stainless steel martini olive skewers in the shape of swords. They are cool!

Another thing I have found is a lady named Tracy Lolita Yancey that designs themed, hand painted martini art glasses. On the bottom of the glasses is a recipe to try. These are way cool and make great gifts for the martini lovers in your life.

So, here is the namesake recipe for my blog site:

The Dirty Martini
3 parts Vodka or Gin (make them the best quality you can afford)
½ part dry vermouth (personally, I either use a vermouth spritzer, or swirl the vermouth in glass and drain it, or use no vermouth at all)
Olive brine
Olives (either pimento stuffed or bleu cheese stuffed – and stuff the bleu cheese in yourself. Don’t buy the bleu cheese stuffed olives that are stored in oil)

Add the vodka or gin and your vermouth preference to a shaker filled with ice. Shake it until you cannot hold the shaker in your hand anymore. Strain into your very chilled martini glass. Add 2-3 tsp of olive brine (more or less to taste) and garnish with your olives.
Find a place to sit, relax and enjoy! You earned it.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe...I've ordered the drink in bars and really am excited to try one at home : )

David said...

Great Web site. Please comment, I like my dirty on the rocks. How do you feel about the added dilution from the ice.

A-6Dude said...

@David...dilution is just something I deal with. I really don't notice it until I pour the last bit from the shaker (2nd glass). As long as it is cold I am good!

Anonymous said...

I love a good dirty martini! It is such a wonderful drink. It's a perfect drink to make when you have company over, check out this video to entertain guests!