The Martini is without a doubt the king of cocktails, and it’s what movies and television series are made of. It is, and will be, the last drink standing after we all get over these complicated mixologist-turned-rockstars’ concoctions. As the world gets far more convoluted, a simple straightforward drink is what we need.
Like changing a tire, every gentleman should know how to make this drink. The ingredients are simple—gin or vodka, or both; vermouth; garnish of choice (lemon twist, olive, pickled onion). And then the rudimentary equipment—a shaker, ice, and martini glasses are what you need to get started.
The rest is a matter of sorcery. The clean slide of a martini has the smooth, yet biting taste of the poisons of choice, imbued with the distinct flavor of vermouth, and finished with sophistication in a cold crystal-clear martini glass that defies all trends. It is style in simplicity.
Despite its simplicity, it is one of the few classics that can be personalized to suit the drinker. Urban legend by the old bartenders at the Manila Peninsula talk about the Concio Martini. Cesar Concio is the husband of Charo Santos Concio, and was known to hold preprandial cocktails with the gentleman leaders of his day. Geny Lopez had his version of the cocktail, and ABS-CBN has this libation. The list goes on. So whether you find yourself in a hotel bar, or any bar in the city, or when you travel, we hope to equip you with enough pointers to order the precise drink that fits your mood.
Here are the questions you need to address when preparing a martini:
GIN OR VODKA? These days, a bartender can no longer assume that a request for a martini implies gin. At ABS-CBN, we do a version similar to the Bond Vesper, half Grey Goose-half Tanqueray.
WHICH BRAND? Because of the simplicity of the drink, I would always make sure you know your brands, be it vodka or gin. The flavored gin trend does not work with a martini. The less herbal or floral, the better. You want to get the taste of the juniper berries.
HOW DRY? The “dryness” of a martini refers to how much dry vermouth goes into it. The more “dry” the martini is to be, the less vermouth you need. I like mine very dry, so a drop on the side of the glass after pouring the shaken cocktail bodes well for me. Others do a half in, half out. They pour half a measure of vermouth in the shaker, do the dance and throw it out before adding the alcohol.
SHAKEN OR STIRRED? Leave it to James Bond to change the landscape of cocktails forever. Because of his “shaken, not stirred” requests, most bartenders today will shake a martini instead of stirring. Which method is better? Again, it’s a matter of preference. If you are mixing a pitcher of it, in a fancy crystal you got as wedding gift or bought to adorn your very retro bar cart, you can stir in the mix. But be sure to include copious amounts of ice.
DIRTY? A splash of olive brine won’t hurt. In fact, it is my preference.
The ABS-CBN Martini
1. Fill martini glasses with ice. Set it aside. Prepare garnish of an olive, pickled onion and siling labuyo.
2. Fill your cocktail shaker with lots of ice—almost full—to give room to shaker
3. Pour half vodka, and half gin. Eyeball 2 fingers each.
4. Have the vermouth ready, pour a bit in the cap and have a straw on hand—it will be used like a pipette (remember high school chem?).
5. Place the top onto your shaker. Shake vigorously until frost forms on the shaker.
6. Empty the ice from the glass and strain the martini into it. Pipette a drop on the side of the glass
7. Garnish away.
8. Sip leisurely.
I like to leave you with the thought that no matter how shaken or stirred your day can be, an honest clean drink will always offer a moment of clarity (who am I kidding?). Now bite the siling labuyo, and watch your day just get that much better.