One night at Rerun's I got into a prolonged, and losing, discussion with some of the older regulars about martinis. The were all about the stupid joke as to how little vermouth to put in a martini. This passed for wit:
- You pour the bottle of vermouth in a river. Drive five miles down the river get one gallon of water. Use that water to make ice cubes. Use that ice to shake the gin.
- Take the bottle out, let the glass of gin read the label, put the vermouth back.
What we did agree on is that a martini has gin in it. Not vodka, gin. I have nothing against Vodka. One summer my roommate Mary had a daily ritual of drinking Vodka with orange juice and a splash of Vernors. I've never turned down a vodka drink but I feel a damn fool paying for all these high priced vodkas. Consider: U.S. law requires that vodka be "neutral spirits, so distilled, or so treated after distillation with charcoal or other materials, as to be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color."
But gin - it has personality.
My whole childhood I watched Grandpa Monroe make his martini. People who came over asked him to make them and raved how his were the best. I didn't get my first until I came back on leave from the Army, all of 19. I probably would have loved it even if it tasted like wet socks, but it was smooth and flavorful. I have since made it for friends and have converted a few of them over.
Grandpa said he tried all the gins and all the vermouths before coming up with his mix. And, as a public service, here is the recipe
Monroe Lake's Martini
3oz (2 shots) Seagrams Golden Gin
1oz (2/3 shot) Noilly Prat Vermouth
1 Lemon Peel (use a potato peeler)
1 cup ice cubes
In a pitcher, put ice and pour over it the gin and vermouth. Stir for half a minute. Drain into a 5oz martini glass. Twist the lemon peel, spraying the oil onto the surface of the drink. Stick the olives in.
The whole difference is the vermouth. White vermouth is also called French vermouth while the red variety is known as Italian vermouth. Now, of all the stupidity, in America most bars stock Martini & Rossi Vermouth. Do you drink anything else they make? No. So why drink a French wine made by Italian immigrants?
Well, there it is. I make myself one once in a while at home. I've tried to order one at bars but it's too confusing for the bartenders.
Go in Peace