Thursday, September 09, 2010

Down & Dirty

I was always intrigued and in awe of the word “Martini”. As a kid (all thanks to James Bond) I thought that’s the proper cocktail for a man. Dad was a whiskey drinker, others had Pilsner and the ladies always had a Bloody Mary? But the lure of movies is such that I always felt when I was old enough to have “adult” drinks it would start with a Martini. (A fine example of my upbringing you might think, what with other kids my age having aspirations of being a pilot, architect or doctor); anyway no judgmental views here.

My first tryst with a Martini was a complete let down. I might have just turned 16, fresh out of school and into college and our gang of buddies decide to go to a night club (in the afternoon, yes, those were the days). Money was limited so a round of beers was ordered and those who were experienced started confidently swigging. I, being the experimental kind and a little extra cash on hand (all due to the excitement of a night club! Teens, I tell you) went up to the bar and ordered a Martini (yes, yes, I used the cheesy line – shaken not stirred) and got a Martini for sure, in a Martini glass, but, wait for it – it was horrendously bitter, strong as hell and surprisingly warm? I thought to myself, it’s no wonder Dad takes to Whiskey.

Though it never occurred to me at that time that anyone could mess up a drink, especially a simple Martini, I was determined to find out the right recipe.

I have definitely come a long way from the Blue Riband® Gin and Cinzano® Vermouth days. The Cinzano® remains my all time favorite as dry vermouth, but I have conveniently shifted over to Bombay Sapphire®, it being easily available in most wine stores nowadays.

The deep colored and rich turquoise blue bottle instantly reminds you of a serene and calm blue sea and the gin somewhat relates to the dryness of the hot sand; the age old recipe of this gin comprises of ten of the most carefully select botanical ingredients which are distilled to perfection to reveal its true flavor making it a wonderfully crisp and balanced spirit. Of course, this Gin when mixed up with Dry Vermouth – makes a perfect Martini.

There are many kinds of Martinis, the quintessential being Dry Martini with its posh slightly briny flavor and pimento stuffed olive garnish. The Dirty Martini takes the cake with a little bit of olive juice to the mix while stirring it up (and of course 3 olives to make it murkier, hence the name Dirty Martini) and my favorite – the Lemon Drop Martini.

The recipes floating around as also mixed up in most bars use Vodka and Cointreau as the alcoholic base. I like things the classic way and have tweaked the classic martini a bit. The lemon drop martini I stir up is a heavenly bouquet of Gin, Sweet Vermouth and of course sour lemon. I am sure you too will not be able to resist it.


60ml Bombay Sapphire Gin
30ml Sweet Vermouth (Cinzano)
1 tsp Lemon Juice  
A Lemon Rind (twirled) for garnish
A Dash of Angostura Bitters
Cracked Ice
Alternately you can use the Martini® Brand Mix instead of Vermouth

I like this drink shaken, so I usually put all of the ingredients except the garnish and Bitters in a shaker filled with cracked ice. You can throw in the squeezed lemon for good measure. Shake it for a good half a minute and strain into a Chilled Martini Glass. I then add a drop of Angostura® Bitters and am set to garnish and serve.

I’ll share with you a little trick for the garnish. Before adding the lemon rind hold it over the drink filled glass with tongs, with a lit matchstick or a lighter, lightly brush the flame onto the length of the rind for a second or so, ensure that you do not burn the rind and drop it straight into the drink.

This method releases the citrus oils in the rind and when it falls into the chilled drink, the oils spread and impart a strong and sharp flavor instantly.

Try this drink on a hot summer evening, I am sure you wont regret downing it in gulps (hangover can go fish!)

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