It might be the classic cocktail, but the problem with the Martini is that the variations seem endless. So where to start?
“Just keep it simple.” That’s the first piece of advice from Ketel One Vodka Ambassador Chris Hysted about making Martinis at home. His second piece of advice is to ask yourself three questions. First, vodka or gin? Second, dry or wet? Finally, how do you want to garnish your drink? Once you have a grasp on those, you can start experimenting, says Hysted.
But before you can experiment, there are a few basics to master. We asked Hysted to take us through them.
Gin or vodka
You can have just as much fun with both vodka and gin when making Martinis at home, although vodka might be the best way to begin an affair with the drink. “A lot of people say they don’t like gin. But really, they don’t like tonic water,” Hysted laughs. “Both vodka and gin work as well as each other in the home environment.”
To shake or stir?
Hysted always prefers to stir his martinis on ice. “For two reasons,” he says. “The first is to chill the drink. The second is to dilute it. You’re trying to find the right balance of temperature and it being watered down enough to make it approachable. It’s a lot easier to do that when you’re stirring, as opposed to shaking.”
The ratio of vermouth
It’s the age-old Martini question: how dry? The bold might reach for more spirit, but Hysted thinks this is the wrong way to go. “Use more vermouth,” he says. “That’s going to help you to start understanding how it works in the drink. As a ratio, I’d say about three parts gin or vodka to one part vermouth.”
Hysted says a Martini can almost never be too cold. That means storing equipment in the fridge: a Boston shaker, a bar spoon, a measure and your Martini glasses (the coupette is a favourite).
The refrigeration extends to the ingredients. Hysted says it’s essential to keep your vermouth in the fridge. “Vermouth is fortified,” he explains, “so will last a lot longer than wine in the fridge. But transfer it to smaller mixer bottles if you have some handy.” Hysted likes to keep his gin and vodka in there, too. “They look cool in the fridge,” he laughs. “It also shows an extra level of care when you’re making a drink.”
Impress your guests
When it comes to laying it on for your guests, there are two weapons in your arsenal: substituting the vermouth and switching up garnishes. “Instead of vermouth you might want to try a dry sherry or semi-dry sherry,” Hysted says. “A lot of people have these at home.”
As far as garnishes go, Hysted says you’re only limited by your imagination. “You can twist some lemon peel, get some really cool olives, or olives stuffed with anchovies or blue cheese,” he says. “You can get some really great cocktail pickles at the moment, too. There are so many directions in which you can go.”
Chris Hysted’s Perfect Martini Recipe
Approximately 2 standard drinks.
45ml Ketel One Vodka
15ml dry vermouth
.05ml orange bitters
Stir on ice. Garnish with lemon twist. Serve.
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