If there is one thing that can make or break your Martini, its the temperature it is served at.
The Martini is by its essence ephemeral. After 15 minutes its just a glass of warm booze, a Martini only in name.
Personally I find it hard to enjoy a cocktail if the room temperature is above 25C (77F), that’s really Gin and Tonic territory anyways.
I like my Martini’s frosty and will plan ahead for cocktail hour by placing my glasses + mixer in the fridge where I store my Vermouth, and the chosen gin in the freezer with the ice.
When I worked the bar for an episode of the Real Housewives of Melbourne, one challenge I had was that the ice was the bulk sort you get at service stations provided by the production team. So I had either big clumps of ice, or small pieces with lots of melting that made it really hard to mix with, let alone keep things cool on a hot afternoon.
In a bar, its reassuring to see my glass come out of a chiller, or at least the first thing the bartender does with my order is fill the glass up with ice to chill it down. PIC
Some classy bars carve their ice as they go, bars like Lily Blacks in Melbourne work a giant block over a shift, and the Everleigh or Gin Palace sees their glamorous staff handcarving with a razor sharp ice pick with nonchalance. The Everleigh take their ice so seriously, that they have a spin-off ice company, the Navy Strength Ice Co.
The goal being a firm cube that is free of any taint, and doesn’t flake into the cocktail.
In Melbourne Eau du Vie use liquid nitrogen for a dramatic chilling effect at the table. I’ve had a few of these (its that sort of place) and whilst I love their work, I can’t help thinking if I’ve not ingested a few molecules along the way. Clearly I’m fine.
Apparently its use goes back to the 1890s, but ingesting it can lead to very serious consequences, including fatalities. So, I think I’ll stick to good old fashioned H20.
But too much ice can ruin your cocktail, shake it and not strained properly and you end up with shards of ice in the drink and lots of dilution as a result. Yuck.
So is stirred for me every time and properly strained.
At home I’ve been experimenting with ice and the shape and its storage can really matter. I’ve recently bought some silicon moulds for some decent sized blocks that work well in my mixed, about 3-4 at a time.
I found the regular ice cube tray ones were all flaky as they hadn’t set properly due to the freezer door being open and closed too often. One key consideration is the role of dilution in improving the taste of your Martini.
This can be risky and a matter of taste, but besides chilling your cocktail, a little dilution will soften the alcohol and open up some of its flavours, and generally soften the cocktail.
Clearly, too much will make your cocktail watery- which is a disaster.
So what I do is after stirring to the desired chilled temperature (plenty of frosty dew on the outside of the mixer), I’ll let it rest for about 30 seconds whilst I bring out my chilled glass from the fridge and add the garnish, then pouring over the top of that.