The Perfect Dry Martini is a 50/50
In the consumer-to-bar and bar-to-consumer industry, there is a mass societal confusion of the use of the word “dry”.
When talking of a Martini, the term “dry” refers to the amount of Dry Vermouth used within the cocktail... meaning that under normal circumstances there will be at least one ounce. However, especially within the society of vodka drinkers worldwide, there is a confusion with the use of the word. Some consumers think that asking for a “super dry vodka martini” means that there is NO Dry Vermouth and the Martini will come purely as chilled vodka. Firstly, that is not a cocktail. That is chilled, slightly diluted liquor. Secondly, that is not a Martini—not an accurate one at least. If that’s what you want, drop the frill and simplify your order. But if it’s not, be careful with your choice of words.
This conscious phenomenon is astounding. Here’s why:
Martinis came into the cocktail scene after Dry Vermouth was available in the United States in the 1870’s, resulting in the slow death of the famous cocktail, the Martinez, which is comprised of Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino, and orange bitters with a lemon twist. To shake things up a bit, or rather stir things up, the Martini was concocted as a substitute cocktail for those who preferred a less sweet, and dry variation of the classic. Thus, using part of the name and association with the Martinez, came the Martini, comprised solely of Gin and Dry Vermouth.
As a customer at a bar, you want to be as clear as possible as to what it is you want. That way, the bartender is capable of making you a cocktail that not only satisfies your wants, desires and ultimate needs, but enlightens you.
If you want a Martini with Dry Vermouth your order is simple and should follow these steps:
1. Ask for a “Dry Martini” and specify your preferred ratio.
2:1 Gin to Dry Vermouth is the most common ratio, where you have two ounces of Gin, or Vodka if you prefer, with one ounce of Dry Vermouth.
50/50, or equal parts is 1 ½ ounces of Gin, or Vodka if you really prefer (but I recommend questioning your tastebuds prior to ordering), and 1 ½ ounces of Dry Vermouth. To lessen the bite of the ABV is some spirits, 50/50 is not only preferred, it’s recommended.
2. Determine your garnish.
a. A lemon twist if you’re a classic soul, delving deep into existentialism.
b. Olives if your preference is taking the salty-sweet and floral path in life.
c. An orange twist if you’re confused, quirky, and maybe a little indecisive.
d. A grapefruit twist if you’re feeling the heat from the bright summer day. If the current season isn’t summer, the choice is worrisome.
e. A lime twist if you’re a sociopath.
But don’t worry, bartenders never judge.
When Gin meets Dry Vermouth, there’s a serenade of two entities that occurs.
However, even if you want a Martini without Dry Vermouth your order should follow a step by step process as well:
1. Determine your preference of brand of Gin, or Vodka, and then relay your choice to the bartender.
2. Ask for it to be a martini WITHOUT Dry Vermouth.
a. Would you like it to be dirty, with a few dashes of olive juice? (How much dirt do you want to taste?)
b. If not, then you are essentially having a chilled glass of Gin, or Vodka. If you’re trying to cut your personal costs, simplify your lingo. Instead of ordering a $15 Martini, ask for your preference of spirit, but chilled and served without ice.
3. Determine your garnish.
The same garnishes apply, but you are more than likely going to debate between a lemon twist and olives, or let’s be real, a lime wedge.
Martinis are clean, subtle cocktails, made for the likeness of simplicity. Your preference matters, despite how conflicted your taste may be, but clarity is key. If you’re clear in what you want to drink, the bartender will be clear in what he or she makes for you. The cocktail world is ambiguous and overwhelmingly enlightening, dancing waltzes on your intrigue. But hey, if you like simplicity, you can have simplicity.
However subjective the ratio of Gin to Dry Vermouth may be, a 50/50 Martini offers the perfect balance of bright juniper Gin with strong floral notes that are lightly sweet but welcomingly dry with notes of citrus and sugars that can only be found in the presence and accompaniment of Dry Vermouth. In a world where the smallest, simplest things seem to be unappreciated and even get lost, minor embellishments should feel as momentous as they truly are. If you can imagine being able to feel how the seasons transpire in nature and the potency of a flower in bloom, the same result would be when you have your first sip of a 50/50 Martini. Cocktail magic.
(Photo Courtesy of Hella Bitters)