The Martini

“Shaken not stirred”

Aaah yes the Martini, a Bond classic, embraced by the Epicurean its class and dangerous potency underestimated by many. I recently sat down with my two friends at Bahr Che to celebrate a birthday and the topic of the Martini came up as it has over the last six years been one of my drinks of choice at Jazz clubs, lounges and steak houses as well as a shared domestic drink of choice by my friend in his home. Don’t ask “Why?” just ask “Why not?!”.

The topic of the Martini becoming a feminine choice of beverage over the years was one that struck a chord and some contemplation. Is the Martini a gay and feminine drink or is it like beer an acquired lifestyle choice?

I believe the Martini is an everybody drink and that my friend is too concerned with the stemware and not the beautiful libation it carries. More so one should be worried about how clean the glass is as oppose to the way it looks. Which by the way is damn sophisticated.

The Martini has been reinvented over the years as the growing number of flavored liquors have  taken up more and more premium shelf space. There’s the Madras, the Cosmo, the Appletini all highly sweetened sugary confections poured into the traditional cocktail glass and a staple on every bars’ happy hour menu. Just because fruity concoctions have taken over the mainstream doesn’t mean Bond’s drink of choice has been feminized by virtue of sharing the same glass; after all the drink was a staple in the Jazz Age and white-collar society as made evident in countless tales. Now that we have come to the  consensus that the “True Martini” (gin based) is a power drink  for a power player in the social scene (think ‘Swingers’), so how do we solve the issue of restoring a bar standard to its place of honor?

First we have to look at how it’s served. The glass is crucial to study, why pour a libation into today’s “martini” standard? There two major structural flaws:

1) It has too wide of a mouth.

2) The cocktail glass has too narrow a handle.

When placed on a flat surface the drink is aesthetically perfect, but pick it up and the top heavy glass is a monster to deal with.

When you take those two factors and combine them with horrible bar tending skills you end up with either wet clothing or a hang over that feels like the population of China has relocated into your skull and in most cases the end result contains both scenarios! So what is the solution?

A smaller glass does not equate dainty in fact like high ABV beers a smaller pour suggest something that is meant to be respected because of the craft that went into building it. I believe the same should be applied to the Martini, after all New York is experiencing what Seattle and San Francisco has come to embrace, which is the reemergence of the Mixologist and the Speak Easy culture. If we can replace the bowl with the flute for champagne then why not adopt the  8oz cocktail glass (which for standard sake is still too large) or the 6oz glass? Hell I would take a 4oz glass if it meant the bartender could actually get it right. Let’s face it America math is not our strong suit. The 8oz glass as pictured here maintains the same sexual characteristics of its destructive pint sized cousin. Note the feminine chalice shape and the slender stem. With smaller glasses there is also left surface area that means your drinks stay colder longer and who isn’t a fan of a cold drink? Still not convince we need to rethink the Martini in order to save it?

Imagine this, you have a beer poured for you at a bar it probably contains  5% alcohol and the glass is served to you with 12 to 13 ounces of beer and a proper head for style. Take that same beer glass and pour a martini into, no ice just straight up. At around 30% alcohol you’re looking at the equivalent of a six-pack of beer in one glass, multiply that by three or four and boom goes the dynamite ladies and gentleman. When it comes to any drink it is quality and not quantity the same holds true here.

Gin is getting better as distillers of the spirit are re-imagining and bringing back to life techniques that all the major producers have long abandoned. If you want it dirty have it dirty, I prefer to take mine rimmed with a slice of lemon and then have that lemon shaken rigorously into my drink. Its light and if you purchase a nicely crafted juniper based gin the results are amazing but it does not necessitate a 12oz pour. 8oz or 6oz should be more than enough remember if you’re hosting garnish with a lemon peel or three olives (pending on how you take your Martini). CHEERS!

Here’s a list of great gins:

Haymon’s Old Tom Gin (British) $26 per bottle

Hendrick’s $42 p/b

Breuckelen Distilling Glorius Gin $30 p/b

Greenhook Ginsmiths Dry Gin $30 p/b

Brooklyn Gin $37 p/b

Also to the bar owners in NYC all your bartenders should be wearing collared shirts for many this is a profession unskilled female bartenders and t-shirts with your bar name on it is such a cliche!


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