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 Perfect 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!
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.
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!