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The Food and Beverage Insider: The Martini Guide

It has been about 100 years since the martini reached popularity in the United States. To this day, martinis are frequently ordered in bars by everyone from fresh-faced 21-year-olds to seasoned, silver-haired patrons. While the martini has remained one of the most classic, well-known cocktails, its formula has evolved throughout the years and now ordering a martini requires a bit of specificity.

The original martini recipe included London dry gin and dry vermouth, combined at a 2:1 ratio and stirred over ice, the garnish choices included olives or a twist. Some classic recipes include the addition of orange bitters, an iteration I personally adore. Of course, martinis nowadays often forego vermouth altogether, some beverage professionals will insist that a martini with no vermouth is not a martini at all, but we’ll let that one slide. Ordering your martini “dry” or “extra dry” limits the amount of vermouth, but even an extra dry martini has little vermouth in it, so if you don’t like the taste of vermouth be sure to specify that with your server or bartender. For fans of very small amounts of vermouth, try ordering a “vermouth rinse” a method of swirling the vermouth around the glass and then dumping it out.

Everyone knows the famous James Bond martini order “shaken not stirred” and most martinis are shaken these days. Shaken martinis are colder and a little more watered-down which makes them easier to drink. The shaken trend correlates well with the vodka trend, many people these days order vodka martinis over the traditional gin. Vodka is a great liquor for shaking, whereas shaking gin “bruises” the liquor, essentially causing the top notes to dissipate. The dirty martini, consisting of vodka and olive juice, seems to be the most popular option amongst the younger crowd, this salty concoction is usually served with olives, sometimes stuffed with bleu cheese.

There are a plethora of popular martini options that go far beyond the addition of olive juice. Espresso martinis have reigned supreme in the cocktail world over the past few years and provide the perfect caffeine boost for a long night. The 50-50 martini has some popularity, especially in the beverage world, and boasts equal amounts gin and vermouth, stirred and often garnished with a lemon twist. You can find a Gibson on many cocktail lists these days, which is a martini garnished with a cocktail onion.

As the years go on, we are sure to see many more creative martini iterations pop up at bars and restaurants across the country. Whether shaken or stirred, vodka or gin, olives or twist, there is sure to be a martini recipe to satisfy every palate. This iconic cocktail will undoubtedly never go out of style and is the perfect pairing for everything from oysters to steak. Next time you’re out for a cocktail opt for a classic martini to switch things up or a nice dirty martini to pair with some briny oysters, you’re sure to find something you enjoy. Cheers!

By Natalie Crooks

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