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shaken or stirred ...
a primer for the martini neophyte |
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The key to a good martini is to make it ice cold. Toss your vodka and your gin in the freezer, to get them as cold as possible -- both have a high enough alcohol content that they wonít freeze.  Vermouth should go in the refrigerator, especially after it's been opened, as it's perishable.

how to mix a martini ...
Every martini neophyte assumes that a proper Martini should be, in the immortal words of that quintessential sophisticate James Bond, "Shaken, not stirred." In fact, many die-hard martini snobs like to sniff their noses at a martini thatís shaken Ė stirring, they claim, is the preferred method, as it wonít "bruise" the gin. Whatever that means.

Personally, I canít taste any difference. If anything, the shaken martini tends to be better chilled, which is actually a point in favor of that method, in my opinion. Aesthetics-wise, itís true that stirring produces a clearer Ė and hence arguably more elegant Ė cocktail than shaking, but what it really amounts to is that neither method is truly, definitively better or worse than the other; itís just a matter of personal choice. And frankly, thereís only one real reason I like to shake: cocktail shakers just plain look cool.

The basic technique: Combine ingredients in a container with plenty of fresh ice, preferably cracked. The more surface area thatís in contact with the liquid, the better the chilling, get it? You donít want the ice to be crushed too finely, however, since thatíll cause it to melt faster and dilute your cocktail. If youíre stirring, use a long-handled spoon to briskly swirl those ice cubes up and down and all around. If youíre shaking, pop the cover on and shake. No half-hearted wrist wiggles, please; your shakes should be firm. When the container is too cold to hold, youíre done. Don't overshake, as that'll only serve to dilute your cocktail.  Strain and pour into chilled cocktail glasses (10 minutes in the freezer should do it), then garnish. Stuffed green olives are the classic garnish for a Martini; garnish with a black olive and you have a Buckeye, a pearl onion and itís called a Gibson.


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