I’m that person who has no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to television shows because I just can’t seem to keep up with everything that’s around at the moment. Work, family time, blogging and falling into bed exhausted every night is not exactly conducive to staying abreast with Walter White or the ladies from Downton Abbey. I can’t deny though that when I finally have some time to myself I like to settle in for the long haul. Recently, I powered through the first 6 seasons of Mad Men. Every episode is a feast for the eyes with amazing fashion, gorgeous makeup, gravity defying hairstyles and of course cigarettes and alcohol, either neat or in the form of cocktails.
I don’t trust bar staff to be able to make anything more complicated than a gin and tonic when I go out to dinner and I know I’ll end up disappointed if I try to order something fancy. I stick with a glass of wine, surely anyone can manage that. So I’ve started to be more experimental at home. You know what they say, if you need a job done right, do it yourself.
It’s been fun researching the drinks that look so tempting on Mad Men. I recently procured a new set of cocktail recipe books, including the famous Savoy Cocktail Book originally printed in 1930.
Good quality bar tools can be pricey so I’ve been making do with what I have around the kitchen and just added a hawthorn strainer and a bar spoon to my collection. The most expensive part of cocktail making is the alcohol so I started with the basics, two key ingredients to make the first cocktail that took my fancy, the Martini.
The key to cocktail making is having plenty of ice on hand. I’ve made it a habit to knock the ice cubes out and refill the trays each day so that when I feel like a cocktail there is ice ready. The other thing, as obvious as it seems, is to make sure you have a supply of common ingredients. Lemons are the thing that catch me off guard, and simple syrup. Try and add these things to your weekly shop if you intend on mixing a drink during the week, and stock up before a Saturday night of cocktail fun. Oh, and plant a lemon tree!
I didn’t know if I was even going to like a Martini so I thought I should start with a classic recipe and add a traditional twist of lemon.
I liked this version somewhat, although it was very lemony. I did finish the entire glass which is a testament to the fact that I actually enjoyed it. The next night I wanted to try an olive for the garnish. After enjoying the subtle saltiness (and devouring the olive at the end) I progressed to a Dirty Martini which has stolen my heart. A few more tweaks including shaking instead of stirring (how James Bond of me) and this has become my go to cocktail. Let me present…
The Beauty and Food Dirty Martini.
4 Tsp Olive Brine
3 Olives to Garnish
Fill your Martini glass with ice or pop it in the freezer while you make your cocktail.
Add 2 shots of Gin to a cocktail shaker (I have a measured pour spout attached to my Bombay Sapphire).
Add one shot of Vermouth.
Top with 4 spoons of olive brine – you can use less if this is too salty for you.
Fill the shaker with ice.
Shake for around 20 seconds.
It’s ready when the outside of the shaker is frosty.
Strain into chilled glass – it should be clear and syrupy with a little viscosity.
Skewer 3 olives onto a toothpick, drop into the cocktail, serve.
I started off with 15ml of Vermouth but increased the amount based on personal taste. Experiment and see how you like it. Unless you’re mixing professionally or for someone else, there is no right or wrong. Wait, I take that back. There is a right way, and that’s the way YOU like it. Enjoy!