Ah, vermouth. The classic spirit is on a whirlwind comeback tour lately, as bartenders everywhere serve up ingenious cocktails—like these brilliant Negroni spins—starring the easy-to-drink apéritif, made from fortified wine flavored with botanicals. And while vermouth’s versatility makes it easy to mix with, well, just about anything, arguably the best way to serve it is in a martini.
Traditionally made with vermouth, plus vodka or gin and an olive or lemon-twist garnish, the iconic martini is ever-tasty, and ever-evolving. This winter, the expertly trained bartenders at Houston’s trend-setting Anvil Bar & Refuge are presenting a special menu of 10 unforgettable versions of the iconic drink, with a roster aimed at vermouth lovers and haters alike. But if you can't get to Anvil anytime soon, check out some of the standout martini recipes (below), and win your holiday party or any bash you throw in 2017.
While a few of the geographically inspired riffs on Anvil's martini menu are sparked by recent tasting trips taken by the bar's owner Bobby Heugel and general manager Terry Williams—for instance the London-style Dukes' Martini and Japan-style Dr. Hoshi's Martini—the bar is also serving up a fascinating historical retrospective on the drink. If you want an excuse to sample eight different versions, taste your way through the Martinis Through the Ages roster, which includes the Buckeye (dry gin, dry vermouth, and black olive); the Gibson (dry gin, dry and blanc vermouths, and pickled red onion); the Tuxedo #1.5 (dry gin, dry vermouth, maraschino, absinthe, and a lemon twist); and the Vodka (unfiltered vodka, dry and blanc vermouths, acacia and chamomile bitters and a grapefruit twist). Here, two of our favorites.
Named for London's Dukes Hotel, a favorite watering hole of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, this cocktail features just gin, dry vermouth and glassware, all kept frozen until the moment of service, when they’re mixed with no ice or water. "The house martini (at Dukes Hotel) is a doozy," Williams tells The Feast. "Vermouth is topped off with a generous amount of ice cold gin straight from the bottle. No stirring over ice, no shaking, basically no dilution. Expecting an extremely strong drink from the first sip, Bobby (Heugel) and I were pleasantly surprised by the subtle yet aggressive nature of the recipe."
Dukes' Martini recipe:
2 oz Ford's London Dry Gin (keep in the freezer)
1 barspoon (1/8 oz) Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth
Combine ingredients in a frozen coupe glass. Garnish with lemon zest or castelvetrano olive.
Mr. Hoshi's Dry Gin Martini
Mr. Hoshi's martini is a classic style prevalent in Japan. The vermouth is served on the side, and guests can add it at their discretion or ignore it. "The more Bobby (Heugel) and I traveled around Japan visiting cocktail bars, the more we discovered each bar seemed to have its own style of presenting this iconic drink. One style we particularly fell in love with descended from a man named Mr. Hoshi," says Williams.
Mr. Hoshi's Martini recipe:
2.5 oz Tanqueray London Dry Gin
.75 oz Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth
Add vermouth to ice in a mixing glass and stir. Strain vermouth into a separate glass, and then add gin to ice, seasoned with vermouth, in mixing glass and stir and strain into a frozen coupe. Express the zest of a lemon over the glass and discard. Garnish with a castelvetrano olive. Serve the vermouth on the side.
Photos by Julie Soefer.
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