I’m so glad you’re here to help me celebrate the one year anniversary of The Friday Cocktail. Hard to believe but it’s true. One cocktail every Friday. Some classic, some summertime fun, some borrowed from friends when I wasn’t going to make it and even some ice cream treats but most important? I hope that in the long run it’s been all good! I’ve shared Classic Cocktails, margaritas and yes, some cocktails that end with ‘tini’ that a purist would have my head for. Which is funny, since I had yet to do that original ‘tini’ – one of the most classic of all cocktails, the Martini. So today is the day to fix that transgression and because it’s a party? I’ve also got a simple appetizer to share and I’ve invited a bunch of girlfriends to join me and bring their favorite cocktail to the party!
I’m very glad you’re here but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention an even bigger birthday today. My daughter Lauren was born 29 years ago this date (really, how could it have been that long ago?). So before we start the celebration…here’s to you sweetie; have a wonderful birthday! I know you’re working late and revelry will be at a minimum but I’ll hold this party in your honor so hope you’ll stop by for a cocktail and I also hope you will feel the love of a whole bunch of people who I’ll ask to repeat after me, ‘Happy Birthday Lauren!’
Now back to the party! I read an article once that said a good dry martini is like an Ernest Hemingway short story; deceptively simple (only three ingredients), but the product of a deft, confident hand. You don’t just throw a good martini together – it’s the cocktail that many professional and home bartenders consider the most difficult.
I know, in my heart of hearts, that in it’s purist form, a martini is quintessentially just two things. Gin and Vermouth. Many purists (who the heck are those people anyhow) would cry foul with anything but a lemon twist but I like an olive or two (or three) in mine. I think as much as the martini itself I just LOVE an olive that’s been marinating in some gin for a bit. Before I ever came to enjoy the cocktail itself I would meet a friend for a couple of drinks on Friday night. He was a martini man through and through…and I stole his olives every chance I could get!
With just gin, vermouth and a garnish, it’s a tough act to get just right. Too much gin and it tastes like you’ve ordered it straight, too little and you’ve got a vermouth cocktail. It’s all about balance and personal taste and that personal taste part simply can not be denied; to me it is simply the most important ingredient.
The history of the Martini
The origins of the martini cocktail are diverse and as a result only add confusion to any history. One story tells of a drink made during the gold rush of the 1800s in Martinez, California, in which barman Julio Richelieu mixed a drink he called “The Martinez,” that was comprised of one part Sauternes wine with three parts gin, garnished with an olive. Another attributes the name to a rifle used by the British Army in the late 1800s called the Martini and Henry and yet another story gives credence to a New York bartender in the 1900s who mixed a drink comprised of equal parts London Dry Gin and Noilly Prat vermouth with orange bitters.
The Best Martini?
The arguments on how to best make the perfect martini are as many as the stories of origin. What kind of Gin? Beefeaters may often be cited as the gin of choice but I still love Bombay Sapphire. Chill everything to within an inch of its life or do you just chill the glasses? How much vermouth? I’ve heard that some prefer such a delicate whisper of vermouth that you should pour the vermouth first, swirl it in the glass and then empty it before adding gin…now that is a DRY martini! More choices? Lemon twist or olives. Shaken or stirred? Remember the purists? They will rise up and claim that vigorous shaking “bruises the gin,” whereas others swear that you need to shake the cocktail to chill it to the right temperature. Can you see how that personal preference ingredient is so important?. Personally? I like mine shaken; I like them ice cold and I’m OK if the shaking tempers the alcohol with a bit of water…that’s MY preference!
Maybe the reason it is so difficult to make the perfect martini is because with so few ingredients and all of those personal preferences, it is almost impossible to discern how others will love one. This is why so many find their perfect martini is one made at home. This recipe is one that suits me; vary the vermouth up or down a bit as you find your nirvana and then garnish as you see fit! Yes, that’s perfect!
We like our dry martini chilled and powerful, with a good kick from the gin tempered by the vermouth.
- Four 25 ml measures of good gin
- One 25 ml measure of dry vermouth (Noilly Pratt)
- 1 inch strip of peel from an un-waxed lemon or skewered olives
- Pre-chill your shaker, glass, gin, and vermouth.
- When cold, add ice to the shaker and measure in the required amounts of gin and vermouth. Shake or stir as required.
- Strain into your chilled glass and twist the lemon peel until it leaves a spritz of lemon oil on the surface of the cocktail or use an olive instead of a twist.
- Serve, holding by the stem.
Chilling all of your components is critical. The ice will take the cocktail to a super chill which won't be tempered by warm glasses. Love me an almost icy martini!
I could think of nothing better to serve these with but some simple crackers that are topped with either goat or cream cheese and a dollop of black olive spread. Star Fine Foods sent me a basket of olives and olive oils to sample; for this cocktail hour I used both the green stuffed olives for my martini and a combination of black olives and olive oil for the spread. Next up? Something that combines both varieties! The olive oil spread is a simple yet delicious recipe from the book Veggies for Carnivores from Lora Krulak. Check out the details below for a chance to win your own basket of products from Star Fine Foods as well as a copy of Lora’s book!
- 1 cup of black olives
- 1 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- Drain the olives and put them in a processor with the garlic. Process until smooth; keep the processor running and add the olive oil through the feed tube slowly.
- Taste and salt if necessary
This would also be great served on a toasted crostini; spread toasted crostini with either goat cheese or cream cheese, add a dollop of olives and put in the oven just long enough to warm.
I could not have made this a real celebration without some friends who have joined me today for The Friday Cocktail. So many drinks…so little time! Take a peek at the fabulous offerings below and be sure to visit my friends blogs; there is something for everyone!
Click on any cocktail to go to that blog and check it out!
Boozy Dessert too? Sure!
More fun? You need more? How about some gifts…although aren’t you supposed to be giving presents to me? :) I’ve had so many fine companies offer to help with this celebration…and gifts are still coming in! How about these?
A fabulous gift basket from Star Fine Foods
Basket includes olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and more. I depend on Star for my olives and onions for my cocktails and their olive oil is a staple in my pantry. I’ve got a couple of flavored oils too that I love using for crostini and salad dressings; my absolute favorite is the Lemon Peel…so good! Value $100
Gorgeous fresh fruit gift basket from Harry and David.
This Fresh Fruit Gift Basket includes pears, apples, kiwi, baby bananas, lime, avocado, mango and a golden banana. I have one on my counter that was just delivered to me yesterday; the contents are amazing and I can’t wait to dig in. First on the agenda. Can you believe I’ve never made a pineapple upside down cake with fresh pineapple? Neither can I but this weekend that will all change; I can not wait! Value $70
THREE bottles of Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
Frangelico is the Original Hazelnut Liqueur from Northern Italy. I love it straight over ice, mixed with half and half for an after dinner cocktail. Come back next week…I’ll be featuring it in a cocktail that will surprise you! Value $30 per bottle
One Bottle of Partida Reposado Tequila
You know I love Reposado Tequila right? I think it only fitting that a quality tequila should be a part of my birthday celebration! Aging tequila is what makes such a difference in the quality. By Mexican law, Reposado Tequila must be aged a minimum of 2 months. Partida Reposado is aged six months in once-pass Jack Daniels American Oak. It’s rich and smooth and a new favorite of mine. I was provided samples of all three and nothing has changed; the Reposado remains as my favorite.Value $58
Lolita ‘Its 5 O’Clock Somewhere’ Champagne Glass – Retired (These are collector’s items!) Value $30
This wine bottle cheese plate. A wine bottle is melted in a kiln and comes with a wine label affixed and a pewter serving knife. Value $40
LOVE these glass drinking straws from the Glass Dharma, (these are the decorative dots sipping straws that are great with martinis). Value $33
I love these wine bottle toppers from Knobstoppers, an antique door handle is finished and affixed to a cork…let a knob be your stopper! Value $32
My favorite scent from Archipelago is this Wasabi Mint Soy Candle. Value $34
I love to use these Winelights both indoors and out. A used wine bottle is filled with odorless burning fuel and a wick is fed from the fuel to the pewter fleur de lis. The glass chimney protects the flame from extinguishing when used outdoors. Value $25
A copy of Lora Krulak’s new book, ‘Veggies for Carnivores‘ – it’s what I used for that simple but delish black olive spread! Value $22
I always save the best for last. I LOVE this wine bottle opener! Made in France; each opener is crafted using the wood of grapevines to fashion the handle; this one is Cabernet. The type of vine is etched into the metal handle and also on the leather holder. This is absolutely the best opener I’ve ever used…that’s it’s so doggone beautiful is just a big plus! Value $195
How can you win one of these fabulous prizes? Lots of ways; here’s how:
Contest is open until Friday, September 21, 2012 midnight. CONTEST IS CLOSED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.
Required: Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite cocktail is.
For additional optional entries do any of the following and leave me a SEPARATE COMMENT for each one, letting me know you did it. If you already get my rss feed or follow me on Twitter; just let me know…that counts. Please note these have to be left as separate comments or they will only count as one entry.
- Signup for my RSS email feed
- Follow me on Twitter @CreativCulinary
- Follow @FridayCocktail on Twitter (yes, that’s me!) – hoping soon to have a new website completed too just for cocktails at www.thefridaycocktail.com!
- Follow @Star Fine Foods on Twitter
- Follow @HarryandDavid on Twitter
- Tweet the following: I just entered to win a gift from @CreativCulinary #FridayCocktail Party. Enter here: http://su.pr/9FysBZ
This event will run for one week and end at midnight September 21, 2012. Winners will be determined by assigning a number to each gift and using random.org to determine the winner for each item; the result at random.org will be used to pull a winner based on the corresponding comment number. Only one prize per person will be awarded. These prizes are for US residents only. I will email the winner and they will have up to 3 days to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED
Disclaimer: Some of these prize items were provided to me and will also be shipped to a prize winner. Except for the gift baskets, the alcohol, the glass straws and the cookbook, all other items are being provided at my own expense.