The prevailing wisdom is that this cocktail is not a predecessor of the martini. I am not sure if this is so, but it is a great old drink that deftly illustrates how complicated the flavors in this family can be. Upon tasting, you will be hard put to discern any particular flavor components here; the gin and the mixing spirits surrender their individual flavors to a sea of subtle spice.
Pour the gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters into an empty cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker completely with ice and stir with a bar spoon until the outside is cold. Strain and serve, garnished with lemon peel.
These drinks should be stirred in a shaker that is completely filled with ice. Only then can you achieve the alcoholic balance that makes these cocktails great. It is a demonstration I perform in all my introductory classes for B.R. Guest bartenders: Make two gin martinis, shake one, stir the other, and try both. Not only does the shaken one look less appealing—an icy translucent soup next to a light-catching diamond—but its flavors are hard to discern. There is little truth that a shaken cocktail is colder than a stirred one; many are fooled by the presence of ice crystals in the shaken cocktail.
Some bartenders argue that stirring takes longer. Not really.
Stirring cannot be duplicated with a gentle swirl of the shaker or by pouring the ingredients together and hoping that the gods of Brownian motion will do their part. When they hit ice, liquors become viscous at different rates; they will not mix on their own. When you stir a martini, you may be tempted to pause: fetch your glasses, prepare your garnishes, or take your hors d'oeuvres from the oven. I believe, on the basis of nothing but instinct, that a pause in the midst of stirring a drink somehow ties it together. Perhaps it's just the increased anticipation. (More on shaking and stirring can be found in Chapter 1 of the book.)
This page created December 2009
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