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Cocktail Recipe: A Proper Martini Lesson

Food Network star, Author and Podcast Host Simon Majumdar demonstrates the correct way to make a Proper Martini. He also explains why a Martini is always stirred, never shaken. Sorry, 007. A shaken "martini" is a different drink.

One of our biggest takeaways from this lesson is the Vermouth 'wash' to prepare the martini glass. This recipe segment comes from the episode "Cocktails and Food History with Simon Majumdar."


1 oz Gin (or more as you'll see in Simon's demonstration)

3 dashes orange bitter

Splash of dry Vermouth to 'wash' the glass

Lemon peel for twist


Add ice to a cocktail pitcher

Add gin and orange bitters to the cocktail pitcher

Add splash of vermouth to a martini glass. Twirl the glass slowly to coat the glass with the vermouth. Discard the excess vermouth or keep in the glass to add to the drink.

Stir the cocktail pitcher at least 20 times to properly chill the drink.

Strain into the prepared martini glass.

Twist a lemon peel over the glass to release the oils, then rim the glass with the lemon and drop into the drink.


Full Transcript, apologies for any typos;

Simon So I've got my shaker full of ice. Walter Okay. Simon And then what I'm going to do, is I'm going to add in my gin. Now this is actually, I'm not always the biggest fan of craft gins. Walter Okay. Simon Because I think a lot of them try and be too clever to show too much. So if I'm making, if I'm making a gin Martini, I usually use something straightforward. I love Beefeater's, it's a terrific gin Walter Yeah. Simon It's gin that's been made for 200 something years, I've actually been to the distillery in London, they're still making it in the same place. But I thought I'd try it with this. So what I'm gonna do.. Walter Okay. Simon I don't know if you can see my shaker, but I've got my little measure. Simon So one, one ounce at the top, half an ounce at the bottom. So I'm just going to put in, he says, allowing for a little, see what I've got left at the bottom of this bottle. So that's, so we've got one and what I usually look for Yeah, I'll be about there. One and a half ounces of gin for me. At this time of day, it's an afternoon cocktail. Walter Yeah, yeah. Walter All right. Simon I've got a tiny bit more. I might as well finish this, so... Walter Might as well finish it off. I mean, why leave it in the bottle? Seriously? Simon Well, you know, it's, it'll only, it'll only evaporate. So then I've got I've got my gin. Walter Uh huh. Simon And then what I'm going to do, I've got these, so the original Martini what people often don't know, it had a splash of orange bitters in it. Walter Oh. Okay. Simon So if you've got orange bitters, this one is made by a gentleman he just passed last year. A guy called Gary Reagan. He was from Yorkshire in England but lived in America for a long time. Walter Okay. Simon So I'm just going to put in three drops of that, you can put in as much as you'd like, to be honest, you don't have to put it in. Now while I'm doing that, I've got my cold glass. Slightly less cold because we were chatting before, but a chilled glass. Got my little ones here, I've got my, so I've got this one. And then what I'm going to do is, traditionally a martini was 50-50 vermouth and gin. Walter Okay. Simon And by definition, a martini is gin. People can, will put vodka in it, but that, it isn't a martini then, it's actually, so by definition, it's a drink with gin. Walter Okay. Simon So what I'm, so what I'm going to do is I'm just going to put a tiny bit into the bottom of, you can't see me there. Walter That's fine. Oh, look at that. Simon Put a tiny bit. Walter Okay, just a splash there. Simon What we're going to do is just roll that around. I want to coat the inside. Walter Now what is that doing for you? Simon So what you're gonna do is you're gonna get all the flavor of the vermouth. Walter Uh huh. Simon But you don't want too much of it in your drink. Walter Oh. Simon Okay. So then we've got our washed glass. Now here's the other key thing. We all know our, we all know our James Bond, shaken or stirred? Walter Sure. Simon Now, again, by definition a martini should be stirred because here's the science behind it. This is where we need Alton Brown. Yes, the science is if you're making a cocktail that is all alcohol, which this is, so this is vermouth, which is alcohol bitters, which are alcohol and gin obviously have different levels of alcohol. There's nothing to be emulsified, so you don't want to shake it. If I was gonna do say like a gimlet, where I was putting fruit in this or a fruit..., then I would shake it because the alcohol and sugars and the in the fruit need to emulsify. This one, all I'm trying to do is to dilute and chill. Walter Okay. Simon I'm gonna put it down so I don't spill it. Walter Sure. Simon So you can see me doing it. So it's about 20 turns. Walter 20 turns. Simon And the 20, 20 turns, it's going to allow about half an ounce to, of water to go into the dilution of your gin and your bitters. Simon What I tend to do is I hold the outside. I've got a metal glass here, you've got a glass one. Walter I do. Simon If you've got, if you've got the glass one, the moment you see the outside of that glass beginning to chill up. Simon That's when you've probably released about enough. Yeah. What I do, is I'm holding it at the bottom. I've got a little napkin here, but when I hold it, if it gets to the point where it's almost too cold to touch, that's when I've got enough in there. Usually I say to people about 20 turns. Now here's the other thing that people might not know, that if you do 20, I've probably done more than 20 there. Now you've got, so what people don't know is there is actually a drink with a martini that is shaken but it's, it's has a different name. Walter Okay. Simon It's actually, it's actually called a Bradford. That's it. So a martini style that's shaken actually has a different name. So now what I tend to do, just because some ice may release even though you're stirring, I double stir. So I have my strainer. Walter Okay. Simon You can see my standard strainer. Walter Yeah. Simon And then I have a little strainer there. Walter Ah. Walter Getting fancy over there. Although, I will say I have a little strainer too. It's hiding in the... Simon And then your garnish. Now again, for a lot of people, they like olives. I am not an olive person. So what I tend to do is to get, I get my lemon. So this is a nice aromatic lemon. Sometimes people use a nice Amalfi lemon or myer lemon, but you're just going to use your peeler, and we're just going to pull back, and what we're trying to do, if you can see this Walter, there's no pith. Walter Okay. Simon You don't want, you don't want the white. Walter Just the very top, all right. Simon Now what we're going to do is squeeze this over the glass and again it's hard for me to do this with one hand. Walter That's fine. Simon We're going to squeeze this, so you can see. Walter Squeeze it right in. Simon And that, and that allows the lemon oil, because really what you're drinking is a is a martini, is gin in a vermouth washed glass through a slick of oil. Now sometimes that could be olive oil, olive. The oil from olives from a brined olives, which is like like a Dirty Martini. That's the brine from the olives. Walter Sure. Simon Or it could be from onions, which would be a Gibson. And in this case, it's from a lemon. Then you put your lemon in. And there's your, I've taken out my earphones, but there's my... Simon managed to knock out my earphone, which is, I haven't even had a drink yet. Simon And I managed to knock, I'm not, so and there's my Martini. Walter Look at that. That's beautiful. I love that.


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