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Some things just go together -- and the obvious accompaniment to food is drink. Welcome to Booze52, in which we explore all manner of libations, from A to Z, that do much more than just wash down a meal.
Today: We’re stirring up the most classic cocktail of all.
In the 50s, martinis were what Mom and Dad sipped before a dinner of meatloaf, garden salad, and creamed corn.
Not anymore, of course. Cocktails have made an extraordinary comeback and the martini is undoubtedly leading the charge. It has a clean, bracing taste, and we won’t lie -- drinking one just makes you look classy.
Where was the cocktail born? The most referenced story in the history books is that it all started in the 1860s with a cocktail called a Martinez -- made of gin, sweet vermouth, bitters and maraschino liqueur. Recipes evolved from there, but the martini pioneer is still largely unknown: “It’s kind of like asking who made the first airplane,” cocktail author Barnaby Conrad said in one interview.
Ratios back in the early days were often 1:1 gin to vermouth. From there, they’ve skyrocketed as high as 100:1, but below is my favorite blend. (Read even further to discover yours.)
2 ounces gin
1 ounce vermouth
Green olive or lemon twist for garnish
• Never freeze your alcohol -- the ice you use during stirring not only chills the liquid down efficiently, but it infuses it with enough water to temper the alcohol burn. Water is an essential component of a well-mixed martini.
• Feel free to play with the vermouth ratio a bit according to your own palate.
• Many classic recipes call for orange bitters -- I like a few drops for extra complexity, and if you make yours this way, invite me over.
• Whatever you do, drink your martinis in moderation. Heed the words of Dorothy Parker:
I like to drink a Martini
But only two at the most.
Three I’m under the table,
Four I’m under the host.
Photos by James Ransom