My eagle-eyed friend Andrea alerted me to this most excellent piece on the traditional martini, published yesterday in the Washington Post. Jason Wilson, travel writer and Spirits columnist, stands up for the classic drink, decrying the crappy post-WWII "dry martini" craze.
Like any sane martini drinker, Wilson likes a martini - not a glass of chilled gin or vodka, but a cocktail containing actual measurable amounts of vermouth, and sometimes even bitters. And it should be stirred, not shaken. And it should be made with gin, not vodka.
On that last point, Wilson has this to say: "I hate to break it to you, but there simply is no such thing [as a vodka martini]. The martini certainly is more a broad concept than a specific recipe, but there must be two constants: gin and vermouth. Beyond correctness, vodka and vermouth are just a terrible match. So call that drink whatever you'd like, but please don't call it a martini."
He also calls out the particularly annoying habits people have developed when it comes to ordering a dry martini. "Does any cocktail invite more bloviation than the Very Dry Martini? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know how you take your martini, Gramps: no vermouth. I should just whisper the word 'vermouth' while I mix it? Never heard that one before!"
As someone who gets really, really annoyed by all of these things and thinks a spade should be called a spade, I loved this piece. It spoke to my misanthropic disdain for those who drink vodka shaken with ice and call it a martini.
I echo Wilson's sentiments: drink whatever you enjoy, but don't try to slap the martini label on it in order to make yourself seem sophisticated. There's no need, really, and all you're doing is making it harder for me to order a real martini without giving the bartender a detailed set of instructions.
Photo courtesy of nicholas.m.carlson on flickr.