Serious Eats: Talk
Why do martinis taste better in bars?
I unabashedly love a dry gin martini. Beefeater, with a bleu cheese olive if you got it. When done well, it's ice cold, with just a couple small shards of ice floating on top, a perfectly clean and cool reminder of all that is civilized in this world.
Here's my problem: I want to make my favorite cocktail at home. I think I'm close. I follow the classic Alton Brown martini recipe. 0.5 oz of dry vermouth go into a shaker with ice. Swirl vigorously to coat the ice, and pour out the excess vermouth. Pour in 2.5 oz beefeater gin. I've both stirred and shaken, and this distinction doesn't seem to make any difference. Pour out over a frozen/not frozen (again, the distinction hasn't seemed to matter) martini glass with a single olive in the bottom, and consume.
Here's the thing: my martini always tastes a little better in a good bar. Cleaner, colder, nicer somehow. I've made a dozen or more martinis this week (rough life, I know), and can't seem to get it right, nor find a solution online. I'm no bartender, so I assume there is knowledge that eludes me on the making of a good martini.
Barkeeps/martini enthusiasts of the world, I implore you: how do you make a top shelf, bar-quality dry gin martini? Is the answer the ice? Mine are whole cubes, which don't seem to shard easily. Is it that my shaker is a strainer shaker, rather than a Boston shaker? Is it that my brand of vermouth isn't the industry standard in bars? I use martini rossi because it's available. Am I missing something entirely? This cocktail is fast becoming my white whale, and ain't nobody got time to chase white whales if it can be avoided. Any tips much appreciated. Thanks!