since March 2009


Wet Martini Cocktail 21 Mar 2009
10:10 am

999,999 out of 1,000,000 people do not expect this drink when they say “Martini.”  This should instead be called a “Gin-Hater’s Martini,” or some such thing, not that I understand why anybody would want a martini if they don’t like gin. If a modern martini (at least 5 - 1 gin/vermoth ratio) is not “balanced” because it tastes too much like gin, and if a cocktail must be “balanced,” then fine, a martini is not a “cocktail,” it’s a gin drink. But even if this thing you’re making is a proper “cocktail,” it is not a martini as almost anybody uses the word.  It’s something else. 

Apparently there’s some sort of movement away from the modern martini.  There was an article by Jason Wilson in the 2/4/09 Washington Post that quoted Mr. Hess (paraphrase: a modern martini is for alcoholics) and the always interesting David Wondrich (paraphrase: a modern martini is for people who are posing as macho, and is “pretty much undrinkable”).  It’s all very interesting historically, and it’s always fun to play with drink recipes.  But if a bartender wants to suggest I try this thing when I order a martini, he or she better warn me.  I might be interested to try this sort of variant, for historical interest or to try something different, and I might even enjoy it as long as I’m expecting something unusual, but it’s NOT what I mean when I ask for a martini.

There are so many wonderful, unique gins being made nowadays, and if you make a 3 -1 martini, and move further from a martini as most people use the word by adding orange bitters, you literally have no idea what the gin you’re drinking tastes like.  In a 3 - 1 martini with bitters, you can hardly tell Hendricks from G’Vine from Plymouth from freaking Beefeater, because you’re confusing the botanicals in the gin with those in the vermouth and the bitters. Those of us who actually enjoy gin—apparently a tiny minority—will drink it straight to sample the craftsmanship of the distillers, but we also enjoy martinis, as a gin drink, if not a “cocktail.”  And contrary to what you said, a 5 - 1 or 6 -1 or even 7 - 1 martini most definitely does NOT taste like pure gin, it’s hard to know how you can even say that.

Love your site, by the way, and i’m learning a lot.  It’s just that I also love gin, and I really believe that if you don’t, you should just steer clear of the martini.

Wet Martini Cocktail 21 Mar 2009
11:34 am

Dinah, your post has good points, but it also sent me off Googling Death’s Door gin, which I had never heard of, here in Texas.  I’ve now mail-ordered a bottle, which I’ll look forward to trying, so thanks for the mention of that.  While reading around a bit, I came across someone reviewing it and he made a point that I’ve been thinking about. 

Some of the gins coming on the market in the last decade or so are softer and with unique botanicals, so that they almost seem made to be drunk straight.  I made myself a drink a little earlier, 5 - 1 Aviation gin with Vya Extra Dry vermouth, where both gin and vermouth are unique, and the drink was just weird, not enjoyable.  I don’t think it would have been any better at a different proportion, I think Aviation gin just doesn’t make a good martini.  These new-fangled gins seem to need a new-fangled approach, and I’m not sure what to do with some of them, other than just drink them straight from the freezer…and yes, contrary to Robert’s thoughts, I’m afraid I do keep my gin of the moment in the freezer.