So I checked out the seminar “The Martini – The World’s Most Personal Drink” in hopes of changing my mind. It started out well:
The Gypsy Queen, invented at the Russian Tea Room, is pretty simple:
- 2 parts vodka
- 1 part Benedictine
- dash of bitters
Then Joe McCanta, bar chef and ambassador for Grey Goose Vodka, introduced the thesis of his talk:
Basically, the martini has been through a lot of variations over the last 130 years or so – it’s been made with gin and vodka, sweet and dry vermouth, shaken, stirred, and garnished with a cherry, olive, onion, and a lemon twist.
But at basically every stage, recipes noted that some customers would want it a little different, from the Martinez in 1887, described in “Jerry Thomas’s Bar Tenders Guide” with the note “if the guest prefers it very sweet, add two dashes of gum syrup” to the Stork Club Bar Book in 1946, which drily says: “Bar practice at the Stork favors the noncontroversial stirring … but the management will oblige by having them compounded in a cement mixer or butter churn if that is what the customer wants.”
McCanta’s conclusion was: “The history of the martini is about discovering what you personally like, and drinking that.”
So I’m going to invest some time in exploring martini variants to see if there’s one I’ll care for. I tried a Martinez at Tooker Alley the other night, and… not bad.
Next: back to the tasting room!