Through these adventures you will be introduced to the core set of classic cocktails and techniques. Many of the tools, ingredients and other resources described are available through our shopping links.
The first adventure, Tabula Rasa, introduced the Old Fashioned.
Adventure #2: Waltz Time
It can’t get much more classy than a true Martini. Nick Charles may have, alas, advocated shaking rather than stirring, but otherwise he and Nora had the right idea when it came to dry Martinis: small, cold and excellent. (“Leo, line them right up here.”)
Ingredients: ice, gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters, lemon twist.
New techniques: Chilling Glassware, Straining.
- Oxo Hawthorn cocktail strainer (~$11)
- cocktail glasses (no larger than 5.5 oz capacity, e.g. Ikea’s “Soda”, set of 6 ~$10, and/or keep an eye out for nice old ones at thrift stores)
- Plymouth gin (~$30) (If unavailable, substitute 209, Martin Miller’s or Beefeater)
- Noilly Prat dry vermouth (~$8, try to get the newer formulation with the curvy bottle if you’ve got a choice)
- Fee Brothers orange bitters (~$6)
Store all opened vermouths in the refrigerator. They do lose their luster over time, so this is one place where smaller bottles may be a smart move.
Wash your cocktail glasses and allow them to dry completely. Polish with a clean dish towel and then store upside down in the freezer. Ensure they aren’t crowded by other things so they don’t get broken. If you want to store them on the door you may need to make a supportive tray with the corner edge of a cardboard box in order to avoid disaster if the door is opened too fast; even top down, cocktail glasses can tip over easily.
Find a mixing container to use for now (you’ll be buying an official one on a subsequent adventure). A pint glass or mug will suit the job as long as your strainer can fit in the top without falling in.
Making the drink:
- Wash your hands.
- Rinse the lemon.
- If you don’t have a chilled glass at the ready in the freezer, take a glass and fill it with ice, setting it by to chill as you make the drink.
- Set out the cutting mat, gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters, lemon, mixing container, jigger, barspoon, Hawthorn strainer, and channel knife.
- Measure .25 oz of dry vermouth and add it to the mixing container.
- Put one drop of orange bitters in the jigger and top it with 1.5 oz of gin, then add to the mixing container.
- Add cracked ice and stir for at least 20 seconds (we’ll refer to this step henceforth as “stir with ice”).
- Get a chilled glass from the freezer or dump the ice in the sink from the one you’ve been chilling that way.
- Hold the strainer in the top of the mixing container and strain the drink into the chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a lemon twist as for the Old Fashioned.
- Rinse your bar tools.
- Enjoy your cocktail.
You now have the tools for stirred drinks which are strained. You have a second type of glassware allowing you to adjust the presentation of your drinks. You also have a choice of bitters, which gives you flexibility in matching flavor profiles of different spirits with the other ingredients in a drink.
Where you can go from here with these skills:
This is a 6-to-1 Dry Martini. We recommend you experiment with other proportions trying increased amounts of vermouth (2 oz gin:.5 oz vermouth; 1.5 oz gin:.5 oz vermouth; 1 oz gin: .5 oz vermouth; 1 oz gin: 1 oz vermouth) to see where your favorite is. In general, the more vermouth, the further back in time you’re traveling. You can also try it with and without the drop of orange bitters to understand the impact of that ingredient. Also try getting some green cocktail olives and garnish with one of those rather than the lemon twist to understand the impact of the garnish.
You can also try some other recipes using these other new ingredients, with specific recommendations where we have them noted:
With a barspoon of olive juice from the jar it’s a Dirty Martini.
A black olive garnish makes it a Buckeye.
If you garnish a 5:1 proportion with a cocktail onion instead it becomes a Gibson.
Make it at 2:1 or drier (less vermouth) and add a dash of Absinthe for a Third Degree.
Gimlet (buy Rose’s lime juice)
Vesper (buy Stolichnaya vodka (~$24), Lillet Blanc (~$16), orange for garnish)
Technically, you’re ready for the Manhattan now, but it’s the basis for so many things that we’ll cover it in our next adventure.