Without question, this is my favorite cocktail. Why? is the question. I love powerfully flavored, herbaceous, sweet-sour, complex cocktails. But I think it's precisely the oppositeness of all those qualities that draws me ever back to the Martini. Bone dry (just a capful of cold vermouth for torque and contrast), minimalist, powerful, finished with a shimmer of lemon. (An olive makes it almost a different drink.)
I love the brutal straightforwardness of it. Akin to the flinty minerally nature of a great Chablis, the Martini's appeal lies in it's stoney spareness. Also, it packs a punch—a good measure of its pleasure.
I asked Laura Lippman, venerable crime novelist (this one features some excellent kitchen/cooking scenes), former newspaper reporter, essayist, and one of the few friends for whom the martini is The Choice, why. She wrote back without a definitive answer, uncommon for this most definitive of intellects: "Maybe the martini is my little black dress?" Indeed. (Laura has a book of essays out this August, highly recommend.)
In the video I read her personal convictions on the martini; I mix my own very personal martini—not shaken, ever (I loathe a Martini with an ice floe atop), and this one is not even stirred; and I conclude with Dorothy Parker's venerable ditty.
Happy Friday one and all!
- 3 ounces gin (as close to frozen as possible)
- 1 frozen martini glass
- 1 capful chilled dry vermouth (see notes below)
- 1 capful cold water
- 1 lemon twist
- Remove the gin and the glass from the freezer.
- Combine the gin and the vermouth in the glass. Add the water and the twist.