Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With Gifts For The Bartender In Your Life!

Greetings, Wonketteers! I’m Hooper, your bartender. We’re in the gift giving season, so I thought we’d take a quick break from recipes and talk about presents for mixologists. Here’s my favorite bar gear and books. If you know someone who loves cocktails, these will be more than welcome in their stocking. Presents below.

First up: barware. Bar gear is coming down with a bad case of “gadgetitis” lately. No, you do not need a six-way shot dispenser or a robotic drink making machine in your life. Solid cocktail making only needs a few basic tools for success. As a rule of thumb, the more expensive a bar gizmo, the less you need it. Here’s all you need.

Mind you, if you do this long enough you get more stuff. A lot more. Mind you, if you do this long enough you get more stuff. A lot more. Matthew Hooper

Jiggers: You absolutely do need a jigger or measuring tool for successful cocktail making. I’ve trained to free pour. I can be pretty accurate most of the time. But using a measuring cup to make your cocktails versus free pouring is like painting a portrait versus finger painting. Precision matters, especially with cocktails like Manhattans, negronis, and everything in the world of tiki.

I’d recommend a Japanese style jigger with measurements inside the cup. Japanese style jiggers are taller and narrower than standard jiggers. That gives you a little more time to watch your measurements, and thus makes you a little more accurate.

The top-notch bars I work with are moving away from jiggers, though. Lately, I’ve been seeing graduated measuring cups like this one from OXO. You can read it from the top for precise measuring and layer small amounts of different ingredients in the cup with confidence. Best of all, these things stack if you get more than one. It’s a nice, solid, precise tool that I heartily recommend.

Shakers: I’ve used two-part shakers (“tin on tin,” or Boston shakers) and three part shakers (“martini” shakers). It takes some practice to use a Boston shaker, but it’s worth it. I have a three-part shaker in my bar cabinet gathering dust now. The little cap welded itself to the top part of the shaker in the dish washing machine. I can’t get it off for love or money. Two part shakers are simple, and once you get the hang of them you won’t go back. Barfly is a great brand for this stuff; their shakers are weighted just enough to make sure they lock together solidly.

Strainers: A cheap cocktail strainer feels flimsy, is hard to manipulate, and doesn’t have a very tight spring. Good ones sit comfortably on top of your large tin, won’t slip off when you pour, and have a tight spring for fine straining. I’d go with this spring bar strainer from Barfly. A mesh strainer for double straining like this one is nice to have, but you won’t use it often.

Martini stirring pitcher: There are some pretty etched glass ones out there. I prefer beefy thick-walled pitchers. This one fits the bill nicely.

Bar spoon: Honestly, it’s hard to make a bad one of these. This is a nice one from Amazon, but you can find a cheaper one that’s just as good at a decent liquor store.

Glassware: Honestly, I raid Goodwill and the thrift stores for most of my glasses. Every glass I’ve used in a photo this year cost me fifty cents. Thrift stores and flea markets are great for vintage stuff; my wife picked up my first tiki mug and a sweet travel bar kit during garage sale season this fall.

Other Stuff: Decent muddlers are cheap and easy to find – or you could just use a stick. Fancier bar gear like smokers veer into the realm of “gadgets.” If you really want to smoke an old fashioned at home, a couple of wood chips, a kitchen torch, and a cookie sheet will work just fine. Professionally, I like tools like eyedroppers for saline and misters for sexy drinks like boulevardiers. But you’ll probably only use those once a year. There’s no reason to have them at home.

Shot Glasses: Rebecca's got those for you, the whole megillah.

Next: Books. Oh, I how love these books madly. I’ve referred to these once or twice over the year in my weekly cocktails. But it’s past time to tell you about all these friends on my shelf in depth. Any of these would be a treasure for someone who loves cocktails.

Liquid Intelligence, by David Arnold: This is the book that started it all for me. Mr. Arnold said in his preface: “You’ll see (here) what it means to run an idea into the ground,” and boy howdy does he mean it. After reading this book, I understood the passion, the attention to detail, the restless drive for perfection that can make an amazing cocktail. I also decided I wanted to start a career as a bartender. So, please give this to anyone who loves cocktails and mixology. Just be careful if you give it to someone having a midlife crisis. They might change careers.

Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, by David Kaplan: This is a Kitchen Confidential for bartenders, if Anthony Bourdain worked in the French Laundry and didn’t swear as much. You’ll get insight into how the best bar in America works, and how its bartenders think. You’ll also get a ton of recipes that are becoming modern American classics. A delight, and a must read.

Smuggler’s Cove, by Martin and Rebecca Cate: This book is at least as dangerous as Liquid Intelligence, if not more so. After reading this, I wanted to make tiki drinks for a living. A deep dive into rum, the invention of tiki, and its modern resurgence. Wildly entertaining. This book will also encourage you to make 10-ingredient monster cocktails that involve hand-making three or four house syrups and cordials. You have been warned.

Meehan’s Bartender Manual, by Jim Meehan. A deep dive into the basics of spirits, some insight into what makes a great bar, some fantastic recipes, and some quotes by industry leaders that still inspire me. Read this book and you’ll feel like part of the industry. Who knows? Maybe in a decade or so this will be the book I lean on when I open my own place.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! I'm currently behind the pine at Dodie's Dockside in Lorain, OH. Swing on by if you're in the neighborhood. And if you'd like to buy some bar gear or books from Amazon, please click on the links above, or this one!

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It’s Wonkette Happy Hour (Again), With This Week’s Cocktail, Irish Coffee!

Our motel wi-fi did not catch my edit where I put this on the homepage. Consider it your Saturday evening happy hour instead! — Editrix

Greetings, Wonketteers! I'm Hooper, your bartender, and here is your SPECIAL BLACK FRIDAY cocktail! Let's toss in one more after-dinner drink to get you past the leftovers. Have some Irish Coffee with me. Here's the recipe.

Irish Coffee

2 oz Irish whiskey

1/2 oz brown sugar syrup (1:1 brown sugar/water)

4-5 oz fresh coffee

1 oz heavy cream, lightly whipped

Fill a glass coffee cup to the rim with hot water. In a separate tumbler, add the Irish whiskey and brown sugar syrup. Stir until combined. Discard the hot water, add the whiskey/syrup mixture, and top with hot coffee. Float the cream on top of the coffee using the back of a bar spoon.

Irish coffee is the perfect drink for weary travelers stuck in an airport. It was invented in 1943 by Joe Sheridan, the head chef of a hotel in Limerick. It was a spur-of the moment concoction, something he whipped up to boost the spirits of weary travelers stuck in a hotel overnight. It gained popularity in 1955, and while I haven't seen it on many menus lately it's never fallen completely out of fashion. Alcohol and coffee are a great combination.

When I look at Joe's original recipe, though, I see some interesting details that separate it from the quick and dirty versions I serve at the bar. Let's walk through the ingredients and I'll point out some key details.

Ingredient shot. This cocktail disappeared, slowly and delightfully, in a leisurely manner after drinking this. Ingredient shot. This cocktail disappeared, slowly and delightfully, in a leisurely manner after drinking this. Matthew Hooper

Irish Whiskey: I like Jameson's. It's pedestrian of me, but JayMo is sweet, light, pleasant, and comfortable. Nothing wrong with that, especially here. Proper Twelve is nice, but a little thinner than Jameson. And Conor McGregor is a jerk, so screw him. Writers' Tears is the best Irish whiskey I've ever tasted. It's rich, almost creamy, with some amazing honey undertones. It's honestly too good to use here – all those subtleties will get lost in the brown sugar and coffee. Drink Writers' Tears neat, and use something simpler in this glass.

You can certainly use another dark liquor if you'd like. I would love to put some Demerara rum in this cup. Bourbon is fine here too – use one of my workhorses, Bulleit or Four Roses. Brandy or cognac? Certainly. I will glare at you sternly if you use unflavored vodka. A nice chocolate or vanilla vodka will do.

If you want to use a liqueur - Frangelico or Bailey's, possibly – feel free. But omit the brown sugar, please. Liqueurs are at least 2.5 percent sugar by law. The brown sugar will make your entire drink much too sweet. And please, please, please do not use Kahlua. You are already putting coffee into this glass. Flavoring good coffee with bad coffee is… just no. Kahlua is a nasty sugar bomb in any event. Creme de menthe is also a hard no, especially the ugly green stuff. "Green" does not an Irishman make.

Brown Sugar: I've explained how to make bar syrups before, and this one's no different. Just to review: warm half a cup of water on the stove, add ½ cup light brown sugar, stir until translucent. It'll keep in the fridge for weeks, so if you love Irish coffee make up as much as you'd like.

Many Irish coffee recipes call for putting brown sugar in the bottom of the glass, pouring the whiskey over that, and stirring until it dissolves. That will work okay, but I like a consistent sweetness through the entire cocktail. Footed glass coffee mugs have a little dimple in the bottom. You always get some brown-sugar sludge in there if you don't dissolve the brown sugar first.

Coffee: Use your favorite. It should be good coffee, but it doesn't have to be super-pricey Starbucks stuff. An enthusiastic guest once asked Joe Sheridan, "Hey, is this Colombian coffee?" Joe replied, "Nah. It's Irish coffee." Be like Joe. Use good, fresh, hot stuff, but don't go out of your way to get something special. Irish coffee is special enough on its own.

Heavy cream: Here's where most dessert coffees go astray. If you use whipped cream from a can, it's going to be ice cold and in stiff peaks. We don't want the coffee to get cold from the cream. And if the whipped cream is stiff, the guest has to watch the whipped cream melt before drinking it. Staring at coffee until it's drinkable is no fun.

When I look at photos of Joe's original recipe, the cream lies flat on top of the cocktail. It resembles the head on a pint of Guinness more than anything else. (Joe also served his Irish coffee in a footed pilsner glass; it's clear that he wanted this drink to look like a proper pint.) You're supposed to drink the coffee through the cream, letting it mingle with each sip. Stiff whipped cream won't allow that.

Barely whip the cream. Give it a little backbone, but you don't need to approach soft-peak status. It should still be pourable. "Soupy" might be the best description here. If you get past that point, it's okay to gently ladle the cream on top.

Presentation: Please warm the coffee cup before making the cocktail. The magic of this recipe is keeping the coffee hot and fresh when you serve it. Cold glass will chill your coffee faster. No green sprinkles, or green sugar rims. Let the drink do the talking.

Make this drink without the liqour, and you've got Kaffee mit schlag, one of my wife's favorite drinks. You've got the freedom to add extra flavors here to replace the whiskey; I might use a little vanilla, or sprinkle cinnamon or chocolate shavings on top of the cream.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! I'm currently behind the pine at Dodie's Docksidein Lorain, OH. Swing on by if you're in the neighborhood. And if you'd like to buy some ingredients or bar gear from Amazon, please click on the link above!


It’s A Bonus Wonkette Happy Hour, With A Thanksgiving Chocolate Martini!

Greetings, Wonketteers! I'm Hooper, your bartender. I'm bringing you an alternative to pumpkin pie today, something sweeter than my normal cocktails. Let's make up some Chocolate Almond Martinis. Here's the recipe.

Chocolate Almond Martini

2 oz Godiva Chocolate

1 oz chocolate Vodka

½ oz Amaretto

½ oz Hershey chocolate syrup

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker (chocolate syrup last). Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish: Drizzle a horizontal chocolate syrup band halfway up the inside of the martini glass. Drag a toothpick vertically through the syrup to make a "scribble" pattern.

To my great surprise, this drink has a more illustrious pedigree than I imagined. According to cocktail history, it was invented by Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor in 1955 while filming Giant. They loved chocolate, they loved vodka, they had rented houses across the street from each other during filming. It was a match made in heaven. Liz and Rock also invented getting sick on drinking too many chocolate martinis … so, word to the wise, limit one. This version's rich enough that you won't drink more than that.

Matthew Hooper

Let's go over the ingredients. I use this recipe as a template for all my dessert martinis, so I'll be tossing in some alternatives as I go. I'll list the variations at the end. The most important thing with dessert martinis? Have fun. Don't sweat the pedigree of your ingredients. This is the place for vodkas and cream liquors and artificial flavors. If it tastes good in the martini glass, go for it.

Godiva Chocolate Liquor: Chocolate obviously has to be front and center here, and this is the perfect tool to start things off. Cream liquors are exceptionally thick and concentrated. Any dessert martini that's using cream for a base will need some vodka to give it space.

Bailey's Irish Cream is the normal go-to cream liquor. And it's perfectly fine, but I don't always want Irish whiskey to be prominent in a dessert cocktail. I'll generally use Godiva for a chocolate martini. Rumchata is also high on my list for possible cream liquors. The rum and horchata flavors are invisible, but there's a strong cinnamon note that could be played with. It's also paper white, which can be useful. Visual appeal matters in dessert cocktails.

There's no reason to be snobby when choosing a cream liquor. Dessert cocktails like this use artificial flavors shamelessly. If it tastes good, use it, and don't worry about where the flavor came from. I've seen an apple pie flavor of Bailey's out there; add some real cider and some Jameson and you'd have a killer apple pie martini. Sonos is an Indian spice cream liquor that keeps fascinating me. Maybe an Earl Grey infused vodka, and some Fireball, for a chai tea latte martini? Why not? Drink what makes you happy. No one will judge you.

360 Chocolate Vodka: I try to use some kind of flavored vodka in every dessert martini. Flavored vodkas are sweet, but not as sweet as a cordial or crème liquor (like crème de menthe). Managing the sugar levels in these cocktails is the trickiest part of the process. If you aren't careful, you can make an undrinkable sugar bomb.

Obviously, a chocolate vodka's the best choice for a chocolate martini. But my staple for most dessert martinis is Stoli Vanilla. Vanilla cooperates with almost any other flavor; it works in apple pie martinis, chocolate martinis, you name it. If you're making a dessert cocktail with Bailey's as the star of the show, consider salted caramel vodka – those flavors will play into the whiskey well. I've used whipped cream vodka along with crème de menthe for a crystal clear "frost martini" for Christmas; that ended up too sweet, so a little bit of unflavored vodka would be in order.

Amaretto: This is the fun part. The third alcohol in the glass should be something that compliments your primary flavor, but doesn't occupy the same space. This is where the chocolate for the peanut butter goes, the caramel for your apple. I've got good amaretto in the liquor cabinet, so we're using it here. Skrewball peanut butter whiskey for a Reese's martini? Sure. Malibu coconut rum for a Mounds martini? Go for it. If it's a combination of flavors that makes sense, use it. You won't go wrong.

Chocolate syrup: This is the "secret ingredient" for any cream liquor based dessert martini. Cream liquors are little thin after shaking; the syrup brings back the body and boosts the chocolate flavor. I haven't tried it, but I'd experiment with caramel syrup or strawberry syrup for dulce de leche or strawberry cocktails.

Garnish: It's important to garnish these martinis. If you don't, you'll end up serving something that looks like a martini glass of Oval-tine. The "scribbled" chocolate sauce is an old trick I picked up from Anthony Bourdain out of Kitchen Confidential. It always works like a dream. Rimming the glass is also an option. Cocoa powder rimmed martinis are a great choice. I've used holiday sprinkles for Christmas as well. Generally, I prefer to rim only half the glass. The visual effect is striking, and it lets the guest decide how many sprinkles they want to ingest with their drink.

A quick summary of the variations I skimmed over here, with some suggested ratios:

Apple Pie Martini: 2 oz Bailey's Apple Pie, 1 oz. Bourbon, 1 oz fresh cider

Spiced Chai Martini: 2 oz Sonos, 1.5 oz Earl Grey infused vodka, ½ oz Fireball

Bailey's Martini: 2 oz. Bailey's, 1 oz. Jameson, 1 oz salted caramel vodka

Frost Martini: 2 oz. Whipped cream vodka, 1 oz vodka, 1 oz. Crème de menthe (clear)

Reese's Martini: 2 oz. Godiva, 1 oz Skrewball peanut butter whiskey, ½ oz chocolate vodka

Mounds Martini: 2 oz. Godiva, 1 oz Malibu Coconut Rum, 1 oz chocolate

It's the holidays. Play. Enjoy. OPEN THREAD, too.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! Tiki Underground's blackout day is TODAY, if you're reading this and in Ohio go say hi to my friends! And if you'd like to buy some ingredients or bar gear from Amazon, please click on the links above, or this one!

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Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week’s Cocktail, Hooper’s Dirty Martini!

Greetings, Wonketteers! I'm Hooper, your bartender. I'm glad people liked my dry martini recipe last week. How about some dirty martinis? Fair warning, this one's going to be a bit controversial. Trust me. I'll explain why we're using these ingredients as we go. Here's the recipe.

Hooper's Dirty Martini

2 oz Tito's Vodka

1 oz filtered olive brine

.75 oz Lionello dry vermouth

.25 oz X by Glenmorangie Scotch

Shake all ingredients and double-strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with three bleu cheese stuffed olives.

Let's address the elephant in the room first: This is not a "real" martini. Martinis are made with gin; we're using vodka. We're also shaking instead of stirring. That's okay, though. Lots of drinks served in martini glasses aren't "real" martinis. I've made chocolate martinis, appletinis, and pear martinis before. None of those drinks are "real" martinis, either. They aren't pretending to be. They're delicious drinks that stay true to their own flavor profile, served in a martini glass.

This dirty martini is built with the same plan in mind. It's not a "real" martini with olive brine added in. Rather, it's a cocktail built to showcase olive brine. Everything in this glass is meant to enhance the olive juice and make it tastier. The end result is lighter than plain brine, with spiciness and earthiness enhancing the fruit. It's not "salty," but when you finish a sip, you can lick the saltiness from your lips. It's not a cocktail I'd drink on its own, but with raw oysters or a filet mignon, it would be heavenly.

Let's review the ingredients. I'll talk a little bit more about my design choices as we go.

Ingredient shot. The dirty martini vanished in a mysterious fashion shortly after this photo was taken. Matthew Hooper

Tito's Vodka: I prefer Tito's in my cocktails, but other brands work fine. I like Tito's because it's American-made, it's gluten-free, and the company donates money to good causes. But any vodka in the same price point would be fine. The vodka gives the brine space to expand and breathe. Gin would compete with the olives in the glass. If you want to be a purist, I'd try a London Dry gin instead of vodka. Tanqueray in particular would be a good choice. The coriander flavor would coordinate with the olives nicely. If you're a serious rebel, I'd try aquavit — a Norwegian cousin of gin that uses caraway instead of juniper as its base. But at the end of the day, I'd rather use vodka and let the brine speak for itself.

Filtered olive brine: I always prefer filtered brine instead of tipping a jar of olives into my cocktail shaker. When I'm making martinis at the bar, I want every dirty martini to taste the same. Brine from an olive jar isn't always consistent. The stuff at the top of the jar isn't as salty as the bottom. And I definitely don't any wayward scraps of olive finding their way into the customer's glass. Behind the pine, I use the Filthy brand of olive brine. Stirrings is also a brand I trust, but it's not as dark and intense as Filthy.

Lionello dry vermouth: Dry vermouth provides some sharper flavors that keep the cocktail from bogging down in earthy notes. I'm still using Leonello as a solid all-around dry vermouth. If you're willing to splurge, I'd spring for a bottle of Trincheri dry. The flavors on Trincheri are just a little less sweet than other vermouths, and line up with the brine slightly better.

X by Glenmorangie Scotch: Using Scotch in a martini isn't as radical as you might think. It's a bit obscure now, but "burnt" martinis are a thing. Behind the bar, this means I tip a few drops of Islay scotch in the martini glass, swirl it around, and shake it out. It gives the entire martini a smoky edge without being identifiable as Scotch.

For home use, I'm not going to suggest buying a $60 bottle of Islay so you can use it one drop at a time. Instead, I'm going to recommend using this very interesting new product from Glenmorangie. "X" is a single-malt Scotch explicitly crafted for use in cocktails. It's oh so slightly smoky, bitter in an appealing sort of way, and has a fresh-meadow scent that provides a needed earthiness in this dirty martini. It's not as intense as Islay Scotch, so I went with a full quarter ounce instead of a swirl-and-dump.

Technique: Traditionally, any cocktail with fruit juice must be shaken. Aerating the juice keeps it from being too heavy and concentrated. I've chosen to treat the olive brine as "fruit juice" and give it the same treatment. Double-strain to catch any wayward ice shards.

Garnish: Three olives, mandatory. You want to smell the olives as you drink. Bleu cheese stuffed are ideal, but feta-stuffed are great. And remember, even numbers of olives are bad luck.

The prospect of a non-alcoholic dirty martini doesn't sound appealing on its face. It could be a nice change of pace, though. Most NA cocktails are juice or soda based, and getting away from the sweetness on a hot day would be pleasant. I'd drink a shot of this NA cocktail with some raw oysters in a heartbeat. There is some dry vermouth in here, but the ABV should be below one percent.

Dour Dean

3 oz filtered olive brine

2 oz mineral water

½ oz dry vermouth

½ oz white wine vinegar

2-3 drops sriracha

Shake and strain into a small martini or shot glass. Garnish with a blue cheese stuffed olive. Drink all at once, with the olive as a chaser.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! Tiki Underground is winding down in anticipation of moving. I'm currently behind the pine at Dodie's Dockside in Lorain, OH. Mmm, lobster rolls. And if you'd like to buy some ingredients or bar gear from Amazon, please click on the links above, or this one!

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Welcome To Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week’s Cocktail, The Dry Martini!

Greetings, Wonketteers! Let's circle back and hit one of the great bar classics, and a personal favorite. I've got a really nifty hack to serving 10 of these at once for the holidays. Let's make up some dry martinis. Recipe's below.

Classic Dry Martini

2.5 oz The Botanist Islay Gin

.5 oz Lionello Dry Vermouth

Fill a stirring vessel to the top with ice. Add gin and vermouth. Stir 12-15 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with 1or 3 bleu cheese stuffed olives.

Martinis are an absolutely iconic American drink, but very few people order a proper one. I'm going to plant my flag in the ground and make a stand here: A vodka martini is not a martini. If you order a vodka martini, no vermouth, you will have earned the contempt of your bartender. That's no martini. It's three shots of chilled vodka in a glass with a side of pretentiousness. Real martinis, at a minimum, use dry vermouth. A genuine American martini uses gin. Accept no substitutes.

I do get it. Both of the ingredients in real martinis are misunderstood and abused. Gin has a bad rap as being a nasty juniper liqueur. Vermouth tastes like white wine gone bad, because lousy bars don't chill it. And worst of all, nobody stirs a martini properly – it needs to be frigid cold, and diluted just enough to give the ingredients some breathing space. If you respect your ingredients and take your time, I promise you: it will be worth it. A real martini, well made, is American in a way America used to be. It's complex; it's cool; it demands to be sipped at its own pace, while it's still just the right temperature. Nothing fake, no easy sugar to make the medicine go down. A real martini tastes like nothing else in the world. You owe it to yourself to try a proper one.

I might be a bit passionate on this one. What can I tell you? I'm a martini fan.

Let's review the ingredients briefly.

This martini disappeared, in a cool, smooth, elegant, and mysterious fashion, after this photograph was taken.Matthew Hooper

The Botanist Gin: It's a touch embarrassing to rave about the martini as an "iconic American drink" and then recommend a Scottish gin. This particular bottle is worth the embarrassment. Islay's a home for strong flavored liquors, and this gin stays in the mold. It's floral, it's citrus, it's herbal, it's a touch undefinable. The best reviewers find it hard to pin down exactly what tastes so good in this gin. But it's undeniably delicious. It cooperates with just about everything you add to it, be that vermouth or tonic. And it is very, very light on the juniper.

Lionello Dry Vermouth: Truth be told, most dry vermouth is quite good if you store it in the fridge. Lionello Dry is currently my favorite. It's nice and mellow, and really lets The Botanist gin shine. But the classic Martini and Rossi dry vermouth is an extremely good choice as well. Some bar historians believe that the martini was named after Martini and Rossi vermouth, and it does the job it's intended for extremely well.

Garnish: Most people prefer bleu cheese stuffed olives in their martini. Stuffing olives is a pain in the butt, though – buy prepackaged ones and save yourself the grief. You can put one olive in your martini, or three – but never two. An even number of olives in your martini is bad luck. If you garnish a martini with pickled pearl onions, it's called a Gibson. If you garnish it with a lemon twist, it's … a martini with a twist. Cocktail terminology doesn't always make sense.

Technique: The martini has so much history and culture behind it that making one is almost a ritual. At the bar, I fill a mixing vessel to the brim with ice, add the ingredients, and stir for at least 10-15 seconds. ALWAYS pour into a chilled martini glass. Temperature is the secret ingredient in a martini – the colder, the better. Don't shake your martinis. They'll look cloudy and taste flat.

When I make martinis at home, I sidestep most of this work. After a long shift, I'm in no mood to stir anything. Instead, I make my martinis ahead of time and store them in the freezer. That way, they're as cold as possible. Here's how you pull it off.

Batched Dry Martinis

2 cups gin

1/3 cup dry vermouth

1/3 cup bottled or filtered water

Add all ingredients to a glass bottle, shake once or twice gently to mix, and store in the freezer. Allow at least 24 hours for chill time before serving. Makes 6 martinis.

This is far and away the best way to make martinis for a crowd – instead of doing all the stirring (and going through all that ice), you just pour and go. The recipe scales: 6:1 gin to vermouth, 6:1 gin to water. With this trick in hand, setting up a martini bar for the holidays is simple. Chill a bottle of martinis, have some olives and lemon twists ready, set out some glasses, and you're all set.

Obviously, there isn't a good way to make a non-alcoholic martini. But recently we've been seeing some interesting non-alcoholic liquor substitutes that might be worth checking out. Companies like Ritual have been making non-alcoholic "spirits" for a while now. Reviewers that I trust say they're very tasty. A "clean" dry martini made with ordinary vermouth would be less than one percent alcohol. It's an interesting possibility, and one I'm still struggling with. Is a martini made with a gin substitute still a martini, if it's served in the proper glass and presented with all the rituals? If you're trying to stay sober, is it wrong to keep up your "three martini lunch" with a nonalcoholic substitute? If the ritual defines the martini, is my batched martini still a martini if I drink it out of a juice glass without a garnish at 2 a.m.? Questions to contemplate … over a martini.

In summary and conclusion, drink well, drink often, and tip your bartender — donate to Wonkette at the link below! Tiki Underground is winding down in anticipation of moving. I'm currently behind the pine at Dodie's Dockside in Lorain, OH. Mmm, lobster rolls. And if you'd like to buy some ingredients or bar gear from Amazon, please click on the links above, or this one!


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