Martini Week + The Traditional Vodka Martini Cocktail Recipe

Posted on Aug 22, 2016


Martini Week

We love it when we get a chance to party with WeWork, the cool shared office place where all of the creative, millenial entrepreneurs (and Brian) go to work. We’ve done a few events at various WeWork before (here and here and here); so we knew just how easy and fun the staff are to work with, and how great the guests are. When we were asked to tend bar at a pre-release party for their newest building, Manhattan Laundry, we jumped at the chance.

Since Manhattan Laundry wasn’t ready for occupancy yet, we set up bar a few blocks away at the Wonder Bread building. It was the perfect evening for a party. We were on Wonder Bread’s huge roof deck, on a beautiful summer evening. The crowd was as much a pleasure to serve drinks to as we remembered. And the oysters were fresh out of the Chesapeake.

Even though they’re entrepreneurs, those folks at WeWork love their classic cocktails. Our last roof deck WeWork party was old fashioneds. This time, it was martinis. Serving hundreds of martinis helped us remember just how great this drink is. We spend a lot of time following the latest trends (and apparently right now it’s acid), which is fun. It’s nice to be reminded every once in a while, though, that it’s hard to beat the simple and timeless. So, this week, we’ll be celebrating the drink that has for about 75 years running maintained its reputation as the most famous, classiest classic cocktail.

It’s, of course, hard to top the classic. But, if we’re being honest, the classic can be a little dry and strong. So, we’ve developed over time a martini bar that keeps people in the martini family, but lets them find something with flavors and an alcohol content that might suit them a little better.

If you want to serve your own martini bar, you can find some tips here. If you just want a few martini variation recipes, follow along with us for the rest of the week. We start with something pretty close to the classic.

Traditional Vodka Martini

We generally favor gin in our martini. The whole point of a classic martini is to let the gin shine. And the whole point of most vodkas is to taste as neutral as possible. So, a vodka martini is often an exercise in making neutrality shine. As a bartender, it’s hardly inspiring to hear, ‘This martini is excellent. It tastes almost like nothing.’

However.

If you have a great vermouth, it’s the vermouth that gets a chance to shine in a vodka martini. So, if you’re a vermouth lover, use a good one, and appreciate the fact that the vodka just stays out of the way.

Or, use a local vodka with a story to tell. Many of the more recent craft vodkas play a little loose with the idea of neutrality, and a vodka can be a great way to appreciate what your local craft distiller has done. Here in DC, we have a plethora of interesting choices. Do we use the barley-backed District Made? The ever so slightly floral Royal Seal? The newest kid on the block, the crisp and clean Civic? All good choices. Our liquor store made the decision for us: they only had Royal Seal in stock. Not a bad direction to go, although the others wouldn’t have been either.

The Traditional Vodka Martini Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 oz vodka (preferably a local or craft one)
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth (we prefer Boissiere)
  • olive or lemon twist, for garnish (we like olives, because the saltiness brightens the other flavors a little)

Instructions

  • Stir–don’t shake!!–the vodka and vermouth with ice.
  • Strain into a martini glass.
  • Garnish.

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