Since the 1920s prohibition era, the martini has represented a mix of class and flair, style and elegance. And while prohibition is (thankfully) long gone, the drink’s popularity—and ABV—remain strong. Today, the martini has become a half drink, half art form, and bartenders far and wide are experimenting with ways to refine and perfect this iconic cocktail.
For this year’s National Martini Day (June 19), we’ve compiled seven tips and tricks from some of the most revered cocktail experts to help you have your most delicious martini yet.
1. SAY NO TO VODKA.
While some dry martini recipes may call for a splash of vodka, Derek Brown, leading spirits and cocktail expert, and owner of the Drink Company, says you’re better off with just gin. AVACRAFT Lemon Zester ... Check Amazon for Pricing.
“I’m fine with someone ordering a vodka martini, but I refuse to accept both drinks as equals,” he says. “Gin gives the martini backbone because it’s the highest ABV product in the mix and because juniper adds complex flavors and aroma.”
2. VERMOUTH IS A MUST.
Sure, vermouth may lower the overall alcohol levels in your drink, but be honest with yourself—is that really a bad thing? Not only will you thank yourself in the morning, Brown also guarantees you’ll have a much tastier martini tonight. And his feelings are pretty strong on the issue.
“For me, vermouth represents the civilizing aspect of the martini,” he says. “A martini without vermouth is like calling gnawing on the leg of a cow a steak—pure savagery.”
Artland Artland Glass ... Check Amazon for Pricing. 3. BALANCE YOUR FLAVORS.
While it may be tempting to add extra olives or go heavy on the gin, Alexis El-Sayed, head bartender at Art Bar in Manhattan, reminds us that simplicity and balance are key.
“It’s important to balance the flavors when making a great martini,” she says. “Nobody wants a drink that’s too sweet, bitter, or overly tart.”
4. DON’T OMIT ORANGE BITTERS.
To get that classically bitter martini taste, add some orange bitters. Brown says this is the most commonly forgotten ingredient, but the combined bitterness and citrus notes can make or break your martini.
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