Dave’s Streamlined Martini Procedure

In the last five years, I have developed a steady stream of visitors who come to look at my Dave’s Dirty Martini Procedure post. However, since developing that procedure, my technique has evolved on two fronts:

  1. Shaking vs Stirring – There is a reason that James Bond famously says “Shaken, Not Stirred”. Up until the 1960s, Martinis were stirred, not shaken. The reasoning was that shaking would “bruise” the gin and also that stirring lent a beguiling jewel-like clarity to the cocktail.
  2. Utensil Clean-Up – My original approach left an annoying mess to cleanup. Cocktail shakers are not very dishwasher-friendly. The can can go in the washer as a sort of glass. Depending on the model, however, there may not be a secure place to place the strainer and the lid almost never has a natural home in the dishwasher.

Over time, I have streamlined my procedure to minimize the cleanup mess and switch from shaking to stirring.

Utensils

photo shows a mixing glass, a small disk with two toothpicks, and a martini glass

Utensils

  • Spoon – We are going to get a lot of mileage out of the spoon.
  • Small Dish – The dish is actually optional. However, I like to prepare the olives and put them on a dish of some sort. You can use the lid of the olive jar, but I found that I prefer to put away all the ingredients before doing the final assembly of the martini so I can immediately pick it up and enjoy it while it is cold, without leaving behind a mess that needs to be cleaned up later.
  • Toothpicks – I use ordinary wooden toothpicks from the supermarket. You can find all sorts of fancy reusable toothpicks at your local high-end liquor store, but such fancy toothpicks need to be cleaned and are not dishwasher-friendly. I stick with the old-fashioned wooden toothpicks and simply discard them after I am done drinking my martini.
  • Glass for Mixing – A pint glass from your local pub is the ideal size and shape. However, it is handy to have something with some sort of pattern on the mixing glass so that you can dispense with the measuring shot glass. More on that in a minute.
  • Martini Glass – Of course, you will need a martini glass. Recently we moved to Ohio in a bit of a hurry for a job and brought almost nothing with us. I was irritated to find that local department stores did not have ordinary, straight-up martini glasses. However, I found two of these nice, simple glasses at the local Goodwill store.

Ingredients

I have clear favorites for each of the three ingredients. However, I also like variety. As such, I continue to sample with different alternative products.

Photo shows a bottle of vermouth, a bottle of gin, and a jar of olives

Ingredients

  • Gin – My clear favorite is Bombay Sapphire, followed by Tanqueray. However, recently I enjoyed a bottle of Central Ohio craft gin from Watershed Distillery. Initially I was surprised by the rather sweet flavor. Ohioans have a powerful sweet tooth. In fact, it little too sweet for me. However, adding a dash of bitters balanced it out and delivered an interesting, complex flavor.
  • Dry Vermouth – My favorite continues to be Noilly Pratt. I have not yet encountered a nice, U.S. produced vermouth. I purchased a bottle of cheap, U.S. Vermouth and basically had to pour it out. I have heard that there is a budding craft vermouth industry somewhere, but I have not noticed anything interesting on the liquor store shelves in Ohio yet. Note: for beginners it is important to note that you want dry vermouth, not sweet vermouth. Dry and sweet are not the same, and a martini inadvertently made with sweet vermouth will be undrinkable.
  • Olives – Usually I am pleased by the olives in the martinis at most fancy hotel bars. However, at such bars, the bartenders are usually fishing the olives out of a gallon-sized jar. Such giant jars of olives are impractical for home consumption. I have found it to be difficult to get consistently high-quality olives in smaller jars. The one exception is the Divina brand. These are usually available at Whole Foods. Occasionally I will try olives stuffed with blue cheese or feta cheese, but I mostly stick to the sweet pepper stuffed olives.

One-Time Preparation

There is one step that you will only need to do a single time that will save you a lot of fumbling in the future. Take the martini glass and fill it to a comfortable level. For me this level is about 5mm below the rim. Pour the water from the martini glass into the mixing glass. Make a note of the “martini glass full” level on the mixing glass. In my case, there is a convenient pattern of rings around the base of the glass that marks the perfect level.

Streamlined Martini Procedure

1. Place the martini glass in your freezer. The glass only needs to be in a normal household freezer for 5-10 minutes to cool down adequately.

Photo of spoon in jar containing green olives

Use the spoon to fish olives from the jar

2. Use the spoon to fish olives from the jar and skewer them on the toothpicks. I prefer larger queen olives and usually prepare two toothpicks with two olives on each toothpick. (I like olives!) Place prepared olives on the plate.

Photo shows a spoonful of the brine from the olive jar

Add one spoonful of olive brine to mixing glass

3. Scoop one spoonful of the brine from the olive jar and pour it into the mixing glass.

Photo shows a spoonful of vermouth being poured into the glass

Add one spoonful of vermouth to the mixing glass

4. Add one spoonful of vermouth to the mixing glass.

Photo shows glass filled to level of rings

Fill glass with gin to previously measured mark

5. Fill glass with gin to previously measured the mark. In my case, that means pouring gin until the level of gin is just above the rings molded into the glass.

6. Put away the vermouth, gin, and jar of olives.

Photo shows a spoon stirring ice cubes in the mixing glass

Add ice and stir

7. Remove chilled martini glass from the freezer.

8. Place prepared olives into chilled martini glass.

9. Place three or four ice cubes into mixing glass.

10. Stir with spoon for about twenty seconds.

Photo shows author using a spoon to hold back the ice cubes while pouring the stirred martini into the martini glass.

Pour stirred martini into glass

11. Pour stirred martini into martini glass, using spoon to hold back the ice cubes.

12. Quickly drop the mixing glass, the spoon, and the small plate into the dishwasher.

Photo shows completed martini in chilled glass with two skewers of olives

Finished Martini

13. Enjoy your martini with no further mess to clean up!