We might not be the world's greatest poker players, but we like to think that we know a few things about fixing a decent drink. And one of the things we know is that getting Keith-Y-Guy to do the fixing ensures maximum quality for minimum Zog/Henry effort.
"I like to have a martini
Two at the very most
After three I'm under the table
After four I'm under the host"
"It's never too late for breakfast, it's never too early for a martini."
We've spared no effort to test the following recipes under a wide range of conditions, and we're happy to report that while they won't make all of life's problems disappear, they will at least reduce 'em in size for a while. There's no margarita recipe here yet (try this), but in brief our advice would be: fresh lime juice only; yes to salt on the rim of the glass; Sauza Hornitos; do the thing with ice and a shaker rather than an alcoholic slushy (unless you're doing the catering at a chlidren's party, of course.)
A couple of quick martini notes:
• It's impossible to serve a Martini too cold (unless you work in some kind of low-temperature physics lab and are messing with the liquid hydrogen.)
• The Bond thing... love the movies, but a vodka Martini just ain't right, and whatever our favourite spy reckons, martinis should be stirred not shaken. (Shaking leaves nasty little shards of ice in your otherwise clear drink.)
• Olives or a twist? Very much a personal choice, though olives have the benefit of ensuring that you're getting some vegetables along with your carb intake. Three olives in a martini is almost a health drink when you think about it.
The below recipes are for very dry martinis - essentially very cold flavoured gin, which may not be to everybody's taste. The vermouth:gin ratio is probably about 1:50. At the other end of the scale, some people might use a vermouth:gin ratio of about 1:3 (which would take the drink out of the 'dry' category, of course.) To the dry martini enthusiast, life's big question is not "why are we here?", "is there a God?", or "where do all those odd socks go?", but "how do I ensure a perfect vermouth-to-gin ratio in an optimally-chilled drink?". For Winston Churchill, the answer was simple: with pitcher, ice and gin at the ready, simply glance at a bottle of dry vermouth on the other side of the room. George S. Patton preferred to point the gin bottle towards Italy, a detail sadly missing from Franklin Schaffner's otherwise-excellent film biopic (which, fact fans, includes actual war footage shot by Russ Meyer of "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" fame, who was a US Army Signal Corps combat cameraman in WWII.)
Dry martini recipe #1
3 oz gin
Dash of dry vermouth
Lemon rind or cocktail olives
Fill your cocktail shaker 2/3 full of ice, pour in a dash of dry vermouth, give it a quick swirl, and then pour off the excess liquid - you should be left with just the vermouth coating the ice cubes. Add the gin, and stir gently. Strain into a pre-chilled glass - you can do this by popping them in the freezer for a few minutes, or letting a couple of ice cubes sit in the glass while you get your mixing freak on.
Finish off with either a twist of lemon rind (break it over the surface of the drink to release a spray of lemon oil before dunking it) or one, two or three green olives.
At PokerDiagram Towers, we favour Noilly Prat dry vermouth, and Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray No. 10 gin. (Though after a couple of these, it's kinda hard to tell the difference between the good stuff and Russian Army surplus anti-freeze.)
Dry martini recipe #2
3 oz gin
Lemon rind or cocktail olives
This technique used to be Zog's favoured method, back in the day when he had a bigger freezer. Credit where it's due: he copied the idea from The Pharmacy, a now-defunct bar in Notting Hill Gate. It doesn't really suit the casual drinker, as it requires a long-term commitment in the form of keeping a bottle of gin in the freezer at all times. (It takes a while to get really cold, to the point where the gin becomes almost like syrup in its consistency.) Also, you need to get hold of a spritzer/spray bottle and fill it up with dry vermouth. With that taken care of, we can get mixing...
If possible, chill your glass(es) in the freezer first – there may still be room in amongst the bags of ice and assorted bottles of gin and vodka. Take a glass, and spray two or three puffs of vermouth mist onto its inside surface. (Adjust to taste, and according to just how much spray your chosen bottle dispenses.)
Now simply fill the glass with pre-chilled gin, finish with olives or a twist of lemon as above, and you're in martini nirvana. This method has the advantage of ensuring a super-cold drink (it'll be almost as cold as the inside of your freezer) with minimal dilution of your precious gin.
See the Rum Lola page on Keith's website.
But it's essentially this:
4 parts dark rum
4 parts vodka
8 parts pink grapefruit juice
2 parts lime juice
2 parts cointreau
1 part grenadine.
Shake and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.
On reflection it's a little worrying that we're pushing a drink that includes grenadine. Apologies, but it's worth it.
This is a Zog family recipe that's an absolute doozy. It's pretty much a traditional Trinidadian rum punch, but mixed as a short, strong drink rather than a tall one.
1.5 oz white or golden rum
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz sugar syrup
Your preparation for this involves making sugar syrup (basically: dissolve as much sugar as you can in simmering water) and squeezing limes.
With that done, pour the rum, lime juice and sugar syrup into a shaker and add a few shakes of Angostura bitters - enough to turn the drink from pale greenish-yellow to a rich rusty colour. (Fine tune your proportions to taste, but as mixed by Zog the drink would have just a little less sugar syrup than lime juice, and around 10 shakes of the bitters bottle for the quantities above.) Add plenty of crushed ice (not cubes, though they'll do in a pinch; dump a couple of handfuls of ice cubes into a clean, strong dishcloth, gather the corners and twist into a makeshift ice bag, then pound with a mallet or rolling pin), and give the mix a very thorough shake. Now strain into glass - a martini glass is about the right size.
Drink, enjoy, repeat.
As far as the choice of rum goes, Mount Gay, Havana Club and VAT 19 are all recommended, though any decent white or golden rum should work; dark rum will be too heavy.
1.5 oz white or golden rum
3 fresh mint sprigs
2 tsp sugar (or sugar syrup)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
In a strong(-ish) glass, crush part of the mint with a spoon or muddler. Add the sugar and lime juice and muddle further. Top with ice. Add rum and mix. Add a slice of lime and the remaining mint. Many mojito recipes call for soda water/club soda as well, to make it a slightly taller drink (about 2-3 oz is about right), but the shorter drink is more to our taste.