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Stirred, not Shaken

Classic Dry Martini

This drink is really a very simple combination of spirits, with the classic ratio being 10:1 vodka to vermouth, but we learned that the devil, of course, is in the details.

Clearly the vodka you use will make a big difference. On the vermouth front, we learned that it is better to use small bottles of the stuff, as its quality will deteriorate over time. We also learned the importance of temperature – the drink needs to be served cold, but not so cold that it will cause your lips to stick to the glass. And, for the aspiring bartenders among us, we learned the importance of having everything in place so that you can knock out vodka martinis by the dozen.

You’ll need:
  • 50ml Finlandia or other crisp vodka
  • 5ml martini (about a teaspoons worth)
  • a lemon for your lemon twist (or an olive, if you prefer)
  • ice cubes for stirring and serving and for just plain keeping your glass cold
You’ll also need:
  • A thermos in which to stir the ingredients and of course you’ll need a glass, martini-shaped or otherwise, for serving.
The Steps:
  • Have your serving glass cold. Either stick it in the freezer for a bit or fill it with ice while you’re getting everything else ready.
  • Prepare your lemon twist. Cut a strip of lemon peel about 1-2cm wide and maybe 5-6cm long, remove as much of the bitter white pith as you can and set aside. If you’re like Mike, you can take the opportunity to demonstrate your great knife skills by cutting an international phone number from the peel of a single lemon. Not a requirement, obviously.
  • Add your vodka and martini to the thermos. Mike used a little syringe to measure the martini, you can use a teaspoon.
  • Fill the thermos up with ice and stir vigourously for a minute or two. You’re aiming to both bring the temperature of the drink down and dilute it somewhat. Mike reckoned that a temperature of about -6C or -7C was good (and yes he did check with an instant read thermometer).
  • Strain into the cold glass, squeeze your lemon peel over the glass to release some of its citrusy oils, before dropping it into the vodka martini and serving straightaway.
The Variations:
  • Endless. Use gin instead of vodka. Change the ratio of vermouth. The Montgomery, for example, named after the British WW2 army general, uses a ratio of 15:1 gin to vermouth – 15:1 was the reportedly the numerical advantage that Montgomery liked to have on his side when going into battle.
The Results:
  • Vodka martini for one, stirred, not shaken.

Soul Shakers Grapefruit Julep

This was simply delightful. I’d like to have Mike make these for me all the time.

Grapefruit Julep

You’ll need:
  • 50ml Finlandia grapefruit vodka or other vodka
  • 1 pomegranate or about 120ml pomegranate juice
  • 1 ruby grapefruit or about 200ml ruby grapefruit juice
  • 1 lime or about 40ml lime juice
  • 10 ml honey syrup (made from a mix of 2:1 honey to water)
  • 6-8 mint leaves plus more for garnish
  • ice cubes for shaking and serving
You’ll also need:
  • A cocktail shaker or other vessel suitable for the shaking of liquids
The Steps:
  • If using fresh grapefruit, lime and pomegranate, juice them using a citrus juicer.
  • Add the juices, vodka, honey syrup and mint leaves to your shaker and top up with ice cubes. Shake well, add some ice cubes or crushed ice to your serving glasses and strain the julep over the ice. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint and enjoy.
The Variations:
  • You can leave out the vodka and have a very nice mocktail instead.
The Results:
  • Juleps for 2-4 people, depending on how generous you are with the measures