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A Perfect Martini (Literally)

Despite what you might think, a Perfect Martini isn’t James Bond’s famous saucer of shaken vodka. No, my friends, a Perfect Martini is something far more intriguing—and, my new favorite cocktail.

In college, I thought I knew it all…at least when it came to booze. A perfect martini? Sheesh, that was an easy one (so I thought): One part premium vodka, one part quality dry vermouth, shaken with ice, with a single ginormous pimento-stuffed green olive to garnish.

Discussion over.

Being a cash-strapped college student taught me early on that the quality of the vermouth was far more important than the quality of the vodka. $8 bottle of vodka? No problem—Smirnoff and Stoli were perfectly adequate. An off-brand vermouth, however? A recipe for disaster—I’ve always stuck with Martini & Rossi, no matter the cost. Money well spent, in my view.

With age comes [some?] wisdom, and now knocking on the door of 40, my eyes have been opened by the Word—and the Word, my friends, is “Perfect.”

The Perfect Martini.

But, what makes a Perfect Martini, you ask? We’re not talking subjective perfection here, but perfect in the literal sense—in other words, balanced…perfectly…courtesy of the three Wise Men of martini perfection: Mr. Gin, Mr. Dry Vermouth, and…Mr. Sweet Vermouth.

“Now, wait just a darn pimento-pickin’ minute!” you say. “SWEET vermouth? Not in MY martini!”

Not so fast there, 007.

Over the past couple of years here in Laos, whenever I do make myself a strong drink, it tends to be a dry gin martini, or a Negroni—both are excellent and highly respectable beverages, in my opinion. But sometimes, I’m just not in the mood for the astringency of dry vermouth and gin, or the tart and sweetness of a Negroni. Often, I’m looking for something strong, smooth, and balanced to set the right tone after a long day.

A few Saturday’s back, Lori and I had just put Noe down for bed. Here in Vientiane, we’ve got a one-month window (i.e. June) of enjoying a hint of daylight between Noe’s bedtime and sunset. We’ve been wanting to take full advantage of that, but it being the rainy season here, evening thunder showers are common, and sitting outside and enjoying the evening is often less than ideal.

But on this particular evening, the skies were clear, the sun was shining, and we were headed up to the balcony to enjoy it!

To mark the occasion, Lori had her usual preggo mocktail, but I wanted to try something new. I plugged the ingredients I had on hand into a bartending app and scrolled through the results. “Perfect Martini” immediately caught my eye. SWEET VERMOUTH? IN A MARTINI? HECK NO! On second thought…let’s give it a try.

The result blew my mind.

—a cocktail neither dry nor sweet, but really quite balanced. And best of all, I couldn’t even taste my cheap-ass gin.

Needless to say, it won’t be the last time the Three Wise Men join us for a sundowner in Vientiane.

How to Make a Perfect Martini
  • 1 1/2 ounces Gin of your choice
  • 1 1/2 ounces Dry Vermouth (Martini & Rossi or equivalent)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Sweet Vermouth (Martini & Rossi or equivalent)
  • Shake or stir, it’s up to you
  • Garnish with a pimento-stuffed olive
  • Expat Note: Due to access and distribution here in Laos, I use Martini e Rossi’s “Extra Dry Vermouth” and “Rosso” for sweet vermouth.

And, that’s all there is to it.

Cover photo by Ivan Cortez on Unsplash.

29 June 2018

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