Why is it that when I order a martini, the question that inevitably follows is – “What kind?” I remember watching a sitcom and hearing a bartender character say “I invented a new martini!” NO! You don’t invent a new martini! This is not a daiquiri that can be enjoyed in many flavors. This is a martini!
For those who don’t know what a martini is anymore, I will explain it. A martini is a drink of mostly gin, a little vermouth, and green olives. The gin and vermouth are poured into a very cold bar shaker, maybe with an ice cube (no more, you don’t want to water it down). It is shaken, not stirred (as the old saying goes) and poured into a martini glass. Then 1 or more green olives are added either on a toothpick or a rosemary sprig (or one of those little plastic swords). Some people like a little more vermouth. Some like it dry, with just the tiniest drop. Some like it “dirty”, which includes a little olive juice. If someone orders a martini, with no other details requested, that means a classic mostly gin, a little vermouth, and 2 green olives. If someone wants any of the slight variations I’ve mentioned, they can specify that. Otherwise, stick with the classic.
But I know that when the bartender asks – “What kind?” – he/she is not merely asking how much vermouth. I see menus with “apple martinis”, “chocolate martinis”, and I see vodka in place of gin. These are NOT martinis. If you want to call it that, then I guess I can’t stop you. But I shouldn’t have to specify that I want a real martini just because bars and restaurants have decided to corrupt this wonderful classic. Sadly, we live in a world of “appletinis”, “encheritos”, brand new jeans with holes and tears in them to look ragged, and tee-shirts in church. (And don’t get me started on the obnoxious music.) So I must accept that when I order a martini, I’ll have to explain each time exactly what is a martini.