With only a few ingredients, it’s important to use the right ingredients, tools, and techniques to master the martini. Curtis Stone shows us how.
Curtis Stone's Classic Gin Martini
Makes 1 martini
1 ½ ounces gin
1 ½ ounces dry vermouth
Dash of orange bitters
Large ice cubes
1. Perfect pairings
- Stir gin, vermouth, and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass.
- Taste your ingredients separately and be sure they pair well with each other.
2. Cracked ice, not crushed ice
- Fill the mixing glass with hand-cracked ice.
- You want small cracked pieces, but not crushed ice to ensure the proper dilution.
3. Stirred properly. Never shaken.
- Do not shake the cocktail. Shaking breaks up the ice too much, which leads to overdiluted martinis.
- Some dilution is good; it softens the spirits so you can taste the botanicals, not just the heat of the alcohol.
- Using a long cocktail spoon and keeping the cup of the spoon flush against the side of the mixing glass, stir the mixture in a circular motion for about 50 seconds. Use your fingers and wrist, not your arm or shoulder for this motion.
- This type of stirring will ensure you do not dilute the liquid too much, yet will chill the mixture properly.
- How do you know when it’s stirred enough? The whole the glass will be frosted. The level of diluted liquid will rise to equal the level of ice that remains floating on top.
4. Strain it right!
- Fit a Hawthorne strainer over the mixing glass, and strain martini into a chilled vintage Nick and Nora glass. Presentation is everything!
- Keep the pour "tight" — in other words, keep the lip of the pouring glass close to the drinking glass. This will help ensure the cocktail stays cold. Pouring the martini from too high will actually adversely change the temperature of the cocktail.
- A chilled glass is key. It helps ensure the cocktail stays at the proper chilled temperature.
5. Lemon bliss
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove a 1-inch piece of peel, leaving behind the white pith, which is too bitter.
- Fold the lemon peel lengthwise in half about 5 inches above the drink to “expo” the lemon’s essential oil. ("Expo" is a bartender’s term for “expelling the lemon oil and essence in the peel.")
- Be sure to allow some expo on the stem of the glass. People talk with their hands, and when then hold the glass, they’ll get a bit of that fragrant oil on their hands. So when they talk and wave their hands around, they’ll create an aromatic scent that adds to the enjoyment of the cocktail.
- Roll up the spent lemon peel, then stick a cocktail pin in it and float it on top of the cocktail.