A Twist on the Martini?
March 13, 2013 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to come up with a clever twist on a gin martini to celebrate my dad, who has a big birthday coming up in a few weeks.

My dad loves a gin martini. One version he loves specifically is Citadel gin and a tiny splash of dry vermouth, with a twist of lemon. He is also a fan of olives as a finish, but feels like that is less legit somehow.

My first thought was to substitute something interesting for the vermouth. My dad is pretty adventurous and appreciates bold flavors as well as a 100-year-old cognac (which will also be served). But the one idea I had to sub in for the vermouth, Lillet, is something he mentioned to me himself the other night and so it would not be a surprise. I'm trying to come up with something original rather than a commonly known cocktail.

Other possibly helpful information:

-We can get anything
-I will be bartending, I think, so simplicity is a virtue
-His family nickname is Pear and he likes a good pun, so if someone could work a pear flavor in there that could be cool, but maybe not tasty. Perhaps as a garnish?

What would be a good, original drink for someone who likes a gin martini, or what can we sub in for vermouth that would be tasty?
posted by *s to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sherry makes a great substitute for vermouth in a martini. I'd use an amontillado, an then add a few drops of pear eau de vie. (Or, even better, get a small sprayer and mist the top.)
posted by neroli at 9:17 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Orange Bloom is lovely and you could sub in a pear liqueur for the Cointreau.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:17 AM on March 13, 2013

If he's used to Martini & Rossi or Noilly Prat, perhaps you could simply use a more top-shelf-ish vermouth, such as Vya or Dolin.

Or perhaps something like this? 1/3 gin, 1/3 vermouth, 1/3 cointreau. Shake with ice, strain into glass. It comes out a bit like a dry, sophisticated comsopolitan.
posted by agentmitten at 9:53 AM on March 13, 2013

Sounds like he would enjoy a Vesper, though perhaps you are looking for something a bit further off the track.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:54 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Rachel Maddow does a regular bit on her show where she introduces interesting drinks. You can find the video archive here.
posted by 1367 at 10:11 AM on March 13, 2013

Recently, I've really been enjoying martinis with Chartreuse in them. Try 2 Gin, 1 Green Chartreuse, 1 Dry Vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters. There are several variations on this drink, including the Bijou, which basically subs Sweet Vermouth for Dry. The Chartreuse adds an herbal sweetness which compliments these drinks super well.
posted by voiceofreason at 10:17 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wonder about this honey liqueur, Barenjager.

I suspect it pairs (pears? what, you said puns were okay!) well with citrus and some of the other flavors that you're looking for based on the recipes section. Specifically, look at "The Limburg" and "The Baren Pear." I suspect for the Limburg, you could substitute pear juice, and for The Baren Pear you could substitute his preferred gin for vodka.
posted by jph at 10:19 AM on March 13, 2013

I've experimented with infusing gin with cucumber. Just peel and slice a cucumber and put it in the bottle of gin for a week (if you want it strong you can strain it and put in a fresh cucumber a few days in.
You could certainly do the same thing with a pear, though perhaps with a small bottle in case it doesn't appeal, but it does sound tasty with the lemon twist combo. If it is too sweet you could cut it with normal gin.
posted by zyxwvut at 11:21 AM on March 13, 2013

I'm a huge fan of St. Germain with gin. Here's a recipe for the "Can Can Martini" from their website.

Maybe cube pears (sprinkle w/ lemon juice to prevent browning), and garnish the drinks w/ pear cube(s) on toothpick. Or you could add a prickly pear syrup to the drink (see the "Desert Rose" on this menu).
posted by melissasaurus at 11:44 AM on March 13, 2013

Infuse some gin with cardamom (taste daily to establish when to stop the infusion). Pulverize pear, extract pear juice from the ruins. Make martini with cardamom-gin, add pear juice, a bit of lime to taste, garnish with pear slice.

Warning: I have not actually tried this yet myself, it's merely on my agenda to experiment with (I have a bunch of cardamom-infused alcohol).
posted by aramaic at 11:51 AM on March 13, 2013

You could make your own pear bitters for a version of a Pink Gin. Maybe replace the lemon with a lightly toasted pear cube dipped in lemon or grapefruit juice. Then you could bottle the leftover pear bitters nicely and give it to him.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 12:31 PM on March 13, 2013

If your father likes a Martini with just a whisper of vermouth, I'd recommend a spoonful of green Chartreuse (and the VEP if you can get it). You'll find the flavor is, in many ways, the essence of gin.

Lillet is a wonderful substitute for dry French vermouth, but it might be a little sweet. Cocchi Americano is an Italian bittered fortified wine that reminds me a lot of the citrus floral notes in the aroma of Lillet, but it is not nearly so sweet (and I believe has no citrus at all).

I really do like the Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry in a Martini.

Perhaps going with one of those French gins, G'Vine Floraison, and a half ounce of pear eau d'vie would create a lot of pear aroma. I'd try to find a St.George pear eau d'vie, or maybe Clear Creek.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 2:37 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

OK, most of these seem to involve varying the vermouth, even as far as using a flavored substitute.

Here's my personal vote for the Best Martini Ever (YMMV) (But I'm Still Right):

Enough ml. of your father's favorite gin
The Right Number of ml. of your father's favorite vermouth (or a substitute)*.
Three anchovy-stuffed olives on a toothpick or cocktail spear.

The olives shouldn't be plopped in free, as they'll roll up and hit you on the mouth. Unlike most olives, the drinker might not want to eat them afterwards (depends on the person and the brand - some of them are too much for my palate), and they can be readily reused in the next martini (because the anchovy flavor has a lot left to give.

Even if your father "hates anchovies", as long as he isn't allergic to fish, have him try it. The itty bitty fishies add a subtle layer of umami to the underside of the taste; they do not, however, infect the drink with even the slightest fish smell nor taste.

* Trader Vic's has (reportedly) a fantastic private label of vermouth. Ordinary white vermouth is fine for most flavorful gins (i.e., gin-lovers' gins, not abominations from Seagrams et al). Noilly Pratt is a bit sweeter. Lillet Blanc is dry, with a citrus note that's nice, but that will be missed or overwhelmed if the gin tends to a citrus edge anyway.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:42 PM on March 14, 2013

We did the taste test tonight. We tried the honey liqueur, the chartreuse, the sherry, and the Lillet, and the winner was the sherry as the vermouth replacement. Here is what I'm calling the Grand Pear:

2 Gin
0.5 -0.75 Sherry (Amontillado)
few drops pear eau de vie
shake of cardamom bitters
garnish: cubed pears on a toothpick

Thanks for your help! I think he's going to love it.
posted by *s at 8:20 PM on March 17, 2013

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