Martini Etiquette
December 19, 2003 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Speaking of booze, I'm new to martinis. What's the accepted shorthand way of asking for the classic "gin, vermouth, stirred, olives" version? Too often I end up with a drink that got too much olive juice or ice bits, or the bartender asks me if I want *cringe* vodka.
posted by machaus to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Be specific and call your gin. Ask the bartender for "a dry Bombay Sapphire martini, stirred, with two olives." You'll get exactly what you asked for, provided the bar isn't slammed. If the bartender is crazy busy, though, expect an inferior product.
posted by me3dia at 12:27 PM on December 19, 2003

The operative word you're probably looking for is "dry", or perhaps "very dry". So- "gin martini, up, [very] dry, with olives".

I'm not a fan of gin (except with Tonic or juice), so I go for vodka, but yeah, there's an annoying trend toward "dirty" martinis (extra olive juice) as the default.

If you make martinis at home, I highly recommend seeking out pickled string beans as an olive alternative. Nice 'n' spicy.
posted by mkultra at 12:29 PM on December 19, 2003

Also worth trying is a gibson, which is just a martini with pearl onions instead of olives. Gives it a slightly different tang--no olive brine--and lord, do I love me those onions.
posted by Skot at 12:39 PM on December 19, 2003

I never got into dry martinis for some reason. I can only drink them 'dirty.'
posted by soplerfo at 12:48 PM on December 19, 2003

me3dia is right, call your gin. Having to say "gin" when ordering a Martini is a preposterous travesty. You also shouldn't have to specify that you don't want it on the rocks. But, unfortunately, these are the times we live in.

"Bombay martini, up, olives." That should work.
posted by staggernation at 12:52 PM on December 19, 2003

What does the "up" equal? Stirred?
posted by Dr_Octavius at 1:07 PM on December 19, 2003

What does the "up" equal? Stirred?

"Up" = "straight up" = "no ice."
posted by Skot at 1:09 PM on December 19, 2003

Neat! Dirty is good, and has always been good -- especially considering how easy it is for a dippy bartender to go too heavy on the Vermouth.
posted by bkeaggy at 1:15 PM on December 19, 2003

If the bartender doesn't swirl and dump the vermouth, he's not doing it right.
posted by me3dia at 1:19 PM on December 19, 2003

Response by poster: "dry sapphire martini, up, stirred with olives" makes me sound like a wanker. I'll stick to red wine. I don't drink enough to have a bartender know what I want.
posted by machaus at 1:22 PM on December 19, 2003

If your bar's got it, ask for Hendrick's next time. Hands down my favorite gin, but it's not cheap, and far from ubiquitous.
posted by nickmark at 2:09 PM on December 19, 2003

Well, why'd you ask then?

Bartenders would prefer you be specific than have you unhappy with your drink. And honestly, that list of demands is hardly the worst they'll hear in a night. In fact, if they care at all about what they do, they'll respect you for knowing what you want and how you want it.

(And yes, Hendrick's is quality stuff.)
posted by me3dia at 2:12 PM on December 19, 2003 [1 favorite]

Hendricks is yummy, but Sapphire is a lot more ubiquitous. Chiming in to agree that you have to call the gin if you don't want vodka. I don't know when that change occurred, but vodka seems to be the standard martini booze now. (bleh) I've never had to specify that the drink should be served neat or up...any bartender who thinks there is room in a martini glass for ice should be beaten like a rented mule.

I usually just order a dry Sapphire, 2 olives and it's usually correct. Bruising the gin by shaking it doesn't bother me that much, so I skip that requirement when ordering out.
posted by dejah420 at 2:31 PM on December 19, 2003

I'm actually heading across the street to get some gin in about 30 mins. I usually drink bombay. If they have hendricks or this sapphire stuff, should i try it or do they taste drastically different? (i live alone and if it's very odd tasting it'll sit for ever and i won't be able to afford another bottle of gin for quite some time...).

on preview: god i sound like an idiot but i'm still gonna ask.
posted by dobbs at 2:38 PM on December 19, 2003

Bombay Sapphire is smoother than plain Bombay. Hendrick's is an English (?!) made gin, which they claim to have a cucumbery flavor. It's damn good, but I taste no cuke.

Buy the Sapphire, try the Hendrick's next time you see it.
posted by me3dia at 2:44 PM on December 19, 2003

thanks m3dia. they didn't have Hendricks (lotta empty shelves -'cause of xmas i guess). i didn't realize sapphire was a diff flavor of bombay. in fact, that's the stuff i usually get. i just bought more.

they also had beefeater, which was cheaper. how's that compare?
posted by dobbs at 3:07 PM on December 19, 2003

Gordon's was good enough for Hemingway; it's good enough for me.
posted by muckster at 3:08 PM on December 19, 2003

Beefeater is decidedly mediocre. Avoid in martinis, but acceptable with tonic. Tanqueray Ten is also worth investigating- a subtly different recipe than standard gin, a bit more flowery.

Re: calling. Call every drink (except those fruity drinks that are meant to mask the alcohol), not just your martini. Get a Sapphire and tonic, a Marker's Mark Manhattan. Good liquor makes good drinks, and the booze most bars put in well drinks is awful. Try a margarita with Patron Silver and you'll never not call your margarita again.
posted by mkultra at 7:02 PM on December 19, 2003 [1 favorite]

Call every drink

Word. I'm constantly appalled by movies and TV shows where a guy walks into a bar and orders "whiskey" or "beer."

dobbs, gin is flavorful and thus the different brands/varieties make a difference. Vodka is flavorless by design, so what you're really looking for is lack of impurities, and once you get above a certain level (read: price) it's pretty much the same. But with gin, as with various whiskeys, there's a real taste component.
posted by staggernation at 7:21 PM on December 19, 2003

I agree about the Gordons. Sapphire and Tanqueray are tasteless by comparison.

Kingsley Amis: "The vodka martini was invented for those rather inferior persons who do not like the taste of gin".
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:05 PM on December 19, 2003

My understanding is the classic terminology is "dry martini, straight up, with an olive." No good bartender would shake a martini, no matter what James Bond says.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:21 AM on December 20, 2003

thanks for help with the gin, folks. my store sells Gordons so I'll try that next time.

a little off topic: can anyone tell me what the difference is between whiskey and bourbon? i quite like bourbon (knob creek, bookers, maker's mark, woodford reserve, etc.), but I've been in places that list Jack Daniels as bourbon, while I thought it was whiskey. i'll drink it in a pinch or when on a budget but it really is comparable to the drinks listed above.

What's the diff between them? is it a different distilling process or are they pretty much synonyms, depending on where you go?

also, way way off topic, in the movie the Hustler, newman drinks a bourbon called JTS Brown. Is this a fictional drink or simply one that's gone out of biz? or, is it only available in the usa?
posted by dobbs at 11:54 AM on December 20, 2003

I agree, Gordon's is great -- I won't touch Beefeater or Tanq. Even better, Gordon's is the well gin at some bars, which means you'll pay less for better booze.

Whiskey is a general term for liquor made from fermented grain, comprising bourbon, scotch, Irish whiskey, Canadian whiskey, rye, etc. Bourbon is only made in Kentucky (the bar shouldn't have labeled Jack as bourbon, since it's made in Tennessee) .

Considering how different bourbon and scotch taste, it's safe to say that bourbon and whiskey aren't synonyms.

According to Bourbon Magazine, JTS Brown does, or at least did, exist.
posted by me3dia at 3:27 PM on December 20, 2003

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