Happy Martini Day: A Guide To Martini Variants

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Today just so happens to be Martini Day, And I was going to write a piece about how to make the perfect Martini but it turns out that I’ve already done  that…. Twice (see the previous posts here and here )

Judging from the previous posts you now know that I know how to make the perfect Martini, So here is a look at some of the variants that can put a spin on your classic cocktail.

Vodka Martini

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What annoys me most about the vodka Martini is that most people think that this is a proper Martini, yes it is probably the most iconic version of the drink owing to a certain fussy spy making it his trademark. So what you need for this abomination is:

3 25ml shots of a decent Vodka

1 25ml shot of dry vermouth

1 lemon slice

And to make said abomination, all you do is slosh your vodka and vermouth into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake if you’re a pussy who wants watered down booze, or stir gently if you’re a real man, then strain it into a cocktail glass and add your lemon slice, and then wonder why you ever thought James Bond a man of taste.

Coffee Martini 

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I was asked to make this at a cocktail  function a few weeks ago and have since perfected it, or some I’m told, hating the taste of coffee, I wouldn’t actually know if this was good or bad, so you’ll have to try it and see. You’ll need:

1 mug of black coffee (allow it to go cold)

2 shots of any old vodka

1 shot of Tia Maria (or any other coffee liqueur)

Its pretty simple to make really, shake it all over ice and strain into a cocktail glass its simply a cold Russian Coffee but it does the job, people seem to think its nice, to turn this into an espresso Martini, all you need to do is switch out the coffee for an espresso pod and shake well.

Appletini

Appletini

If you are completely secure in your masculinity and feel the need to make an Appletini for yourself, or have cause to make one for some one else, all you need are: 

4 25ml shots of vodka

2 25ml shots of Apple Schnapps

1 Apple slice

If you can avoid making fun of the recipient of this drink for long enough to make it, again all you need to take this to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake, you could stir, but no one ordering one of these things can handle alcohol that hasn’t been watered down, so shake away and strain it into a martini glass, then garnish with the apple slice, and then shake your head in sadness at the knowledge that someone actually asked for this drink.

Passion Fruit/Porn star Martini 

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I don’t know why these have become so popular of late, but every cocktail bar I go to they seem to be on the menu, so if you’re going to attempt to make one here’s what you’ll need

2 ripe passion fruits halved

4 25 ml shots of vanilla vodka

3 25ml shots of Passoa

1 tablespoon of lime juice and

1 tablespoon of brownsugar

1 teaspoon edible glitter

250 ml of sparkling wine (use Prosecco or Cava or Asti Spumante, don’t go wasting good champagne on something like this)

 

Making it is a bit of a buggerance however so listen carefully what you need to do first is scoop the seeds from one of the passion fruits into the glass of a cocktail shaker, then add the vodka, passoa, lime juice, glitter and sugar. Add a load of ice and shake well, strain into martini glasses, and then top up the bugger with some prosecco or whatever sparkling wine you have to hand and then finish it off by adding half a passion fruit to each.

Minimum Alcohol Pricing: The Return of the Pub Trade?

In whats being described as a move to curb excessive drinking the Welsh Government has announced plans to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol, with the price being set at £0.50 per unit, which would see things like a pint of Carling having to be priced at at least £1.15, and a 440ML can at a minimum of a £1, and your double Jack and Coke will have to cost a £1. Good luck finding those sorts of prices on a night out (if you do, share the knowledge) . However, what this policy is aimed at is to cut out the binge drinking that cheaper prices in the supermarkets lead to, I mean, whats the point in going out when you can get over 30 cans for £20, save yourself cab fare and control the music?

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But with the new policy what we could see is a resurgence of pub drinking, over the past few years, thanks to the smoking ban, and cheaper supermarket prices pubs have suffered, but if it now becomes only marginally cheaper to drink at home, will we see more people returning to pubs and clubs? Maybe. A quick survey of the pubs and clubs I frequent show that very few prices would actually be affected, (the only one drink that I found that would increase was absinthe on sale for £1, which was more to do with getting rid of the bottle than a clever promotion).

So if the policy is enacted and even the cheapest of spirits in supermarkets go up in price (a 750ml 40% spirit would have to cost a minimum of £16 regardless of quality) Welsh pubs may begin to see an upturn in trade, as it only becomes marginally more expensive to go out (not factoring in taxi’s, kebabs, outfits, entry fees and the high cost of dignity).

Adequate Food and Drink?

So this week in the news you may have stumbled across the term adequate food in relation to the ongoing Brexit omnishambles. Whilst these articles and news casts refer more to fresh produce coming into the United Kingdom from the European Union it did get me thinking about what other things (mostly booze) that we as a nation import and what things we’re likely to either have to fork out extra for, or we’re soon to be running low on.

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Have a look at the list from just a few of the member states and see if there’s anything on there that you might want to begin stockpiling, me personally I’m going to be stocking up on fine French Wine, sweet Italian Marsala and some tolerbale port from Portugal.

Country name Exports
Austria Stiegl (Lager)
Belgium Leffe (Beer), Duvel (Beer)
Bulgaria Zagorka (Lager) Mastika (Spirit)
Croatia sljivovica (Plum brandy), travarica (Herbal Liqueur)
Cyprus Commandaria (Dessert Wine)
Czech Republic Budvar (Lager)
Finland Finlandia (vodka)
France Red, White and Rose Wine, Champagne, Cognac, Eau De Vie, Casis, Absinthe
Germany Jagermeister, Riesling, Erdinger (beer) Becka (Lager)
Greece Ouzo (Spirit), Red Wine, White Wine, Rose Wine
Ireland Guinness (stout) Jameson’s (Whiskey), Baileys, Magner’s (cider)
Italy Red, White, Rose Wine, Prosecco, Asti Spumante, Limoncello, Vermouth, Disarano, Amaretto, Peroni (Lager), Sambuca, Marsala, Madeira, Grappa, Campari
Netherlands De Kuyper (Liqueur)
Poland Tyskie (lager) Vodka
Portugal Port, Red Wine
Romania Bats Blood (red wine)
Spain Red, White, Rose, Sparkling, Fortified Wine, Sherry
Sweden Absolut (Vodka), Kopparberg (Cider) Rekorderlig (Cider)

How To Make The Perfect Martini

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We’ve all seen James Bond, it sounds pretty cool when Sean Connery or Roger Moore, saunters over to a bar in some fancy Cannes or Monaco casino dressed up to nines in his finest dinner jacket and dickey bow and comes out with that famous line “Vodka martini, Shaken not stirred” and every man watching that screen wishes he could be that cool and sophisticated. Would you begin to question the whole foundations of manhood if I told you that every part of James Bond’s famous drink order is just plain wrong? Well question away because it is.

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Lets start with the second half of the line “shaken, not stirred”. WRONG. If you shake a martini over ice, you’re bashing the ice about in a cocktail shaker, chipping bits off willy nilly, thus watering down the alcohol content. So what 007 is actually doing is ordering a watered down drink and being a bit of a pain in the arse in doing so.

Now heading back to the first part of this atrocity. A Vodka Martini. WRONG. Martini’s aren’t meant to be made with vodka at all, they’re meant to be made with gin. Preferably English gin, although Bombay gin, or what passes as gin from the continent will suffice in a pinch, and is certainly a damn sight better than vodka.

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Now that I’ve outlined some of the things that make a bad martini, I’ll talk you through how to make, to my mind, the perfect martini.

What you’ll Need

  • 100ml of Gin (Brecon Botanical’s for preference)
  • 25ml of Dry White Vermouth (Martini Bianco for preference)
  • Ice
  • A cocktail shaker
  • A Coctail Spoon
  • Two green pitted olives.

How To Do It

Put your ice in the cocktail shaker then add your vermouth, I, for preference go for a full shot, but some people range from a pretty hefty double to just mixing the drink in front of picture of a bottle of vermouth, but for my method stick to a full single measure (25 ml), then add all of your gin (don’t cheap out on the gin, you want something that tastes nice, not something that tastes like paint stripper or a widow’s tears). After you’ve added your gin, stir the mixture 7 times clockwise and then once anticlockwise (I’m fairly certain this is just something that I picked up from a Harry Potter book, and does nothing to enhance the flavour). At this point you need to put your olives in your glass (a proper cocktail glass) and then strain the mixture into the glass. Now drink up.

 

Booze Review: Liberti Marsala Superiore

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Marsala is a wine, dry or sweet, produced in the region surrounding the Italian city of Marsala in Sicily, the wine produced for export is universally fortified similar to Port, Madeira and Sherry. Originally, this addition of alcohol was to ensure that it would last on long ocean voyages, but now it is made that way because of its popularity in foreign markets.

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I’d never tried Marsala before, but this bottle called to me for some reason. I was looking for something new to try, and just reached up and grabbed it. I got it home and put it in the decanter, then tasted it, and I was blown away by the flavour, it was like drinking mead it was so sweet, it was phenomenal it had a slightly smokey flavour that lingered on the tongue, it was what I assume nectar must be like. In fact after writing this review, I may actually go out and buy a case of the stuff, it is that moreish, and it only gets better the longer you leave it in the decanter, one of my colleagues and I managed to polish off a bottle of the stuff in an afternoon, which wasn’t too sensible given that we had a meeting later that day, but the moreishness grows on you, and takes you by surprise, it really does.

Booze Review: Warre’s Otima 10-Year-Old Tawny Port

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I like Port. This came as quite a revelation to me, because until about 6 months ago I thought I hated the stuff. Then I had some at a civic dinner in the Vale of Glamorgan, and my mind was opened, and so the other day I decided to treat myself to a bottle of Otima 10 year old Tawny Port, if only because it was on offer in Morrison’s.

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I picked up a bottle, and I’m glad I did, so following the rules of port I decanted the bottle and after about an hour I was blown away by the complexity of the flavour. It was so sweet it was like drinking mead and taste stays with you for long enough to appreciate it, unlike a lot of ports, where after a sip or two you feel that you’ve had enough, so much to my chagrin, I found that in a short period I was short of port, but it was well worth the hangover that I am now suffering through, my only wish is that I had a few cigars accompany it, but these days as I’m not allowed to smoke indoors (and have given up on cigarettes entirely) I don’t tend to keep any about the house, but c’est la vie, or so the people say.

Decanting My Wisdom- How To Make Your Port Passable

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One of the things that I’ve discovered this year is that I actually rather quite like port. But with anything that I like, you can bet that there is quite a series of rules and complications that surround it.

Port is a fortified wine hailing from the sunny climes of Portugal, its usually very sweet and is served as an aperitif or as a dessert wine, it goes well with cheese, most notably Stilton and other varieties of blue cheese (try it with a cambozola and then put me in your will).

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Serving

The best way to serve a bottle of port is to decant it before serving. Port is actually pretty unusual among wines in that the older a bottle is, the less time you need to leave it. for example, a 40 year old bottle would only really need about 1-2 hours, where as a 10 year old bottle would need about 3-4 hours, and a young port, you’re better off leaving open for a week, although within 10-12 hours would be fine.

When it comes to actually pouring from the decanter tradition in the UK calls for port being served at a formal dinner to be passed to the gentleman to the left (“pass the port to port”), who will also pour for any woman on the right. Some schools of thought suggest that the bottle or decanter should not to touch the table on its way around. If someone fails to pass the port one should inquire “Do you know the Bishop of Norwich?” if this hint isn’t taken up etiquette suggests carrying on “He’s a wonderful chap, but he often forgets to pass the port.

Recommended Tipples: 

  • Taylors: 2012 Reserve 
  • Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port
  • Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port NV