A woman walked into my bar recently and said she had heard we make great martinis. I said we did. She then asked which flavors we had.
I told her we really only have martini flavored martinis. She settled on a cosmopolitan.
Yes, there are many ways to flavor the basic cocktail known as a martini and serve it in a cocktail glass, which most people know as a martini glass. But I like to stick to the basics.
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The martini, which was originally called the Martinez and had a slightly different recipe, is a classic for the very reason that the two ingredients used to make it — gin and vermouth — taste really good together. It’s a classic because it’s simple yet very sexy. It has become an iconic drink that exudes a certain level of sophistication.
Unfortunately, bartenders have spent the last thirty years trying to add flavors and colors to what can truly be called the perfect drink. Appletinis, Chocolatinis, Lycheetinis, etc., are not martinis. James Bond led entire generations to believe a martini is made with vodka. It’s a gin drink and, in my humble opinion, it should stay that way.
So for the sake of tradition, I present the martini recipe before it was a martini. The Martinez was purportedly created in the town of Martinez, California for a miner who wanted to celebrate striking it rich. This is a more complex cocktail than the martini with more subtle flavors. Be sure to express the lemon oils from the garnish, as it is an integral component to the finished drink.
Kevin Hopper is the bar manager at Capitol Bar on State Street. He likes gin flavored gin and martini flavored martinis.
2 oz. gin (my current favorite is Prairie organic)
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 bar spoon Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Lemon twist garnish
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir (don’t shake) with a bar spoon for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and squeeze the lemon peel over cocktail. You’ll be able to see the oils on the surface. Rub the rim of glass with peel and dive into a true American classic.