If James Bond stops by, I’ll be ready. I now know how to fix his drink.
Y’all have been spending plenty of time with me. We regularly share good food, music, laughter and, once in a while, a stiff drink. I’m pretty loyal to Scotch whisky, neat, when I indulge. I branch out sometimes. An ice cold (almost frozen) beer with a slice of pizza or a burger has been known to sneak it’s way onto my menu, as has a Cab with a steak.
I’ve never been much of a mixed drink man though. Don’t get me wrong, I sampled a Super Socco and gin in my teenage years (thanks, DJ Quik)
I can’t confirm or deny vomiting screwdrivers into a chip bowl at a West Valley party during 1992. Those days were probably responsible for my swearing off mixing liquor with other stuff.
Now, I’m working on further developing my culinary repertoire. Despite the memories of my nausea, I need to understand how to create a cocktail. While I might be happy with a few ounces of Monkey Shoulder, you could show up anytime unannounced. I may pretend I’m not home (I can be quite introverted), but assuming I’m in the mood to chit chat, I’ll have to offer you a drink.
Neither my guests nor I benefit from my pretending like I’m not a rookie. Instead of muddling along (see?), I reached out to my friend Stephanie, who also happens to kick ass on a daily basis editing this blog while simultaneously using her computer skills to win coding battles and teaching us about feeding dogs raw meat and…deep breath…making her own flavored liquor.
I’m aware of this because she sent me this email 7 months ago to plant the seed.
If you ever get into adulterating your alcohol into cocktails, I will send you some of my homemade bitters.
Kind of annoying to be that talented, huh?
Anyhow, I figured I could either enroll in bartending school or just reach out to Steph. The latter seemed monumentally simpler and less time consuming.
I’m thinking of writing a post on the one cocktail everyone must know how to make. What say you?
Easy enough. I put it on a tee for her (only baseball reference in the post, hang with ‘em). I knew she’d come out swinging (last one, promise).
A martini. Not the “vodka, extra dry, wave the bottle of cheap vermouth near it, then put a salad in it” type, but a traditional gin and vermouth martini. Adjust according to your preferences after you learn the basics.
Got it. Gin and vermouth. I was apparently mistaken in my open about Bond. I won’t be learning his version.
“A dry martini,” [Bond] said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”
“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
He thought he was cool, but was put in his place by Stephanie. Her commentary on the drink kind of makes him look like a poser, doesn’t it?
Okay then, hipster. What are my steps to “the basics”?
1. Chill your martini glass
2. Fill up your shaker or mixing glass about 1/3 of the way with ice
3. Add 1 1/2 oz. gin, 1 1/2 oz. dry vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters to the shaker
4. Stir (don’t shake). You want to simultaneously dilute and chill your cocktail. Stir it with purpose, but not like you’re trying to beat egg whites. 30 seconds to a minute should be good.
5. Strain into your chilled martini glass.
6. Using a peeler, peel a strip of lemon zest, squeeze the oils out over the cocktail, and drop it in.
Notes: Use good gin. The martini is a cocktail made with gin, not vodka (that’s a kangaroo). I like to use a good London Dry style. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, but get quality stuff. More importantly, use GOOD vermouth. If the only thing you have is a 6 year old bottle of Martini and Rossi, throw it out. Vermouth is fortified wine and will oxidize. Get a fresh bottle, keep it in the fridge after opening it, and don’t expect it to last forever. I usually prefer Dolin, but there are several good ones on the market.
This is your basic cocktail. You can tweak it to your preference (try a different ratio of gin:vermouth, for instance). If you change the gin for whiskey and use sweet vermouth instead of dry, you have a Manhattan.
By the way, the recipe you cite from James Bond is called a Vesper. If you’re ever looking to try a scotch cocktail, the Blood & Sand is my favourite, but generally the Monkey Shoulder takes bitters tremendously well, giving you essentially a ton of variations on a theme.
- I’ll reiterate, Bond orders a dry martini, not a Vesper. So that’s his mistake, not mine (cleverly shifts responsibility).
- Told you she’s a hipster. Who writes favourite? From grammarist.com:
Favorite and favourite are different spellings of the same word. Favorite is the preferred spelling in the U.S., while favourite is preferred in all the other main varieties of English.
You live in Maryland, Steph. I’m going to double check my globe.