Shaken? Stirred? How To Make A Killer Martini

Luksusowa's perfect martini
Luksusowa's perfect martini

There’s no other cocktail on the planet that has attained such iconic status – and with good reason. Everything from James Bond to Ernest Hemingway and Humphrey Bogart have been devoted to the drink. Face it: It looks cool – the sexy glass, the olives swimming at the bottom, accompanied by casual sips.

How can you snag a bit of its cool? Amongmen.com caught up with Maciek Starosolski, Poland’s vodka ambassador (representing premium brands like Luksusowa) to find out.

AmongMen: Let’s end the debate now… Is the perfect martini shaken or stirred?
Maciek Starosolski: I would always say that the perfect cocktail is one that’s made towards the guest’s requirements. Certainly, the very classic way is done by the method called stirring.

AM: How does stirring effect the drink?
MS: The liquids are very well mixed and chilled and not much harm is done to the structure of the cocktail. It is a very gentle method that ensures your cocktail bring out the best in the ingredients.

AM: And shaken?
MS: On the other hand, shaking will cause the creation of a certain amount of air bubbles and this can alter the very delicate structure of the cocktail as ice is broken during the process. But there are aficionados of the shaken method as some people find the drink lighter and easier to drink.

AM: Okay, we’re sure we aren’t the only ones not clear about what’s meant when a martini is described as “dry”?
MS: That means that the amount of dry vermouth being used is very minimal – no more than 10 mL against 50-70 mL of the spirit. Basically the less vermouth that’s used, the dryer the martini becomes.

AM: Explain gin versus vodka-based martinis.
MS: While the gin martini came first, vodka versions are much more popular nowadays. Gin provides broad flavours, due to the range of ingredients used in making it – at least seven including juniper and citrus.

With vodka, you get a nice expression of your favourite spirit and the addition of dry vermouth brings out depth and spice. It also has a smoother taste. Vodka can be an ideal base for fresh fruit martinis during hot summers, with fresh watermelon or pineapple and ginger being the preferred choices.

AM: We don’t want to screw it up. What should we avoid?
MS: I’d say that the most common mistake is the abuse of ingredients. We tend to add too many of them. The flavours fight against each other we end up with a very disturbed creation. Simplicity is the key as we say in mixology – less is more.

AM: And garnish?
MS: The classic garnish would be a lemon twist or olive. I am big fan of citrus zest to enlighten your martini and make it very refreshing. Olives bring a bit of weight to the drink. I would match green or black olives with a potato vodka-based martini to give it strength and allow it to work with its interesting texture to increase the overall experience.

I love grapefruit zest with rye-based vodka as it cuts through the power of rye and makes it lighter. I also like some lemon zest with a wheat vodka martini for that same reason. The Gibson? What a beauty – as long as you like the taste of onion. Most of all, you have to remember that the martini is a very subjective experience. It comes down to personal taste.

AM: Cheers to that!

THIS IS IT! THE PERFECT MARTINI

• 2oz Luksusowa vodka (or other premium brand)
• 1/4 to 1/2 oz dry vermouth
• Crushed ice
• Garnish (olive, onion or lemon twist

Start with a chilled martini glass. Use an atomizer to spray inside the glass with vermouth. Gently shake or stir vodka with crushed ice in stainless stell cocktail shaker or glass pitcher. Immediately pour into glass (straining out ice). Garnish as desired.

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Michele Sponagle

Canadian journalist Michele Sponagle is a prolific creator of lifestyle editorial, from travel to style, from relationships to food trends. She has been there and done that in more than 60 countries — and still counting. She has contributed to most of Canada’s leading media outlets and racked up more than 10 National Magazine Award nominations and one win from the Travel Media Association of Canada for best family feature.

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