Whether you are hosting a Mad Men themed cocktail party or just mixing yourself a drink at the end of a long day, a martini is an excellent choice.
No one is quite sure of it's origin, but it is assumed to have been invented around 1860 to 1870, and the first published recipe is reported to have been in 1887. It is considered to be both classic and trendy, and you would be hard pressed to find a bartender that did not know how to make a good one.
Traditionally, a martini is made with gin or vodka (my preference) and dry French vermouth in a cocktail shaker with ice. It is then stirred or shaken (The James Bond way) and strained into a martini glass. For a dirty martini, add 1/2 part olive juice to the mix.
The proportion of gin or vodka to vermouth varies according to taste, but the general taste spectrum is from 3 to 1 (wet) to 8 to 1 (dry). It is suggested by connoisseurs that you determine your preference this way ~ start off at either end of the spectrum, and over a period of several days move toward the other end (if you start at 3 to 1, make your next one 4 to 1 and so on), until you get to the mix that tastes "right" to you.
I prefer mine very dry, somewhere between 8 to 1 with a good quality vodka like Absolut, to 10 to 1 with a premium vodka like Grey Goose.
Finally, we come to the much talked about garnish, the olive. Martini aficionados suggest that one or three is the correct number. Further, while one olive may be dropped into the glass, three must be speared. An even number of two or four is considered a faux pas, and five is considered excessive.
Wow! That's a lot of rules for one little drink! How do you like yours? Do you measure or free pour? Shake or stir? Vodka or gin, wet or dry, olives or a twist? I would love to hear!