You kind of look at people differently after having born witness to countless grown adults spazzing the F out once they’ve been made to wait longer than 30 seconds to order an alcoholic beverage. Some opt for a friendly approach with excessive eye contact accompanied by a pleading smile while others huff, puff and frantically beckon for my immediate attention as I tend to the ten people who were ahead of them. Imagine MY dismay when I reach a thirst-crazed patron and they call out:
“I want a martini!“ Really, dawg?
That’s like saying “I want a drink!” and I think we’re all pretty clear on that by this point.
You need to be more specific.
If you want your drink quickly, ask for it the right way so that I don’t have to waste another minute of our time together with a whole bunch of questions. You like martinis? Cool! I like martinis, too. When I order mine, I want it made with Beefeater Gin, stirred and served up, garnished with a twist. Maybe you like yours prepared with vodka and olive brine, shaken and served over ice with extra ‘lives. There is no one, across the board, version. Now do you see how “I want a martini!” may pose a bit of a problem for your bartender? I’m here today to help sort all that out and arm you with a valuable tool that’ll serve as your onramp to the Drink In My Hand Highway. I give you, Martini Mad Libs!
“I’d like a ___(1)___, __(2)____ martini, ___(3)___, ___(4)___, with ___(5)___, please.”
Just fill in the blanks by answering these 5 easy questions:
(1) What other liquids do you want in your martini? If it’s simply your base spirit and vermouth, skip this point. However, if you want no vermouth, say “dry” and if you want the bartender to add olive brine (or “juice” as everyone calls it, to my irrationally intense annoyance – that stuff ain’t juice!), say “slightly dirty”, “dirty” or “extra dirty”.
(2) The Spirit: Do you want gin or vodka? Ok, good. Now, I recommend being brand specific. Since this particular drink is basically a glass of booze with little/no mixers to cut it, I suggest you skip the well or bar brand and opt for something of a better quality. For vodka, if you don’t want to shell out for Belvedere or Ketel, Stoli is fine. (Don’t bother wasting your money on Grey Goose, which is a different conversation for a different day). When it comes to gin, they vary so much but I like Plymouth and Beefeater, neither of which is a wallet buster.
(3) Shaken or stirred? If you’re in a regs bar, you’re gonna get your martini shaken no matter what. Look around and use common sense – does this chick behind the bar look like she wants to stir a drink or is she just slingin’ em? In that case, shut up and sip your cloudy concoction; it’s not actually that big of a deal. Otherwise, most decent bartenders would say that ALL martinis should be stirred but I disagree. When it comes to gin – always stirred is best, as shaking is said to “bruise” the gin, thus changing the flavor a bit and clouding the appearance. Vodka, on the other hand, is the tofu of spirits – not something people seek out for the actual flavor. Rather, it’s more of a physical experience – sipped ice cold, gliding down your throat and then turning warm in the belly. In that case, you want your martini to be frosty and frigid, which is achieved faster with shaking. At the end of the day, it’s what you like that matters so, when an opportunity arises, try it both ways and decide for yourself.
(4) Do you want your drink served “straight up” in a martini glass or “on the rocks”over ice? OK, say that here.
(5) Garnish. In general, you have two basic options: a lemon twist or olives. Feel free to ask if the bar carries specialty items such as cocktail onions and olives stuffed with various shit like blue cheese and garlic, but don’t assume or expect they’ll have it. Asking for “extra olives” is tacky. They’re a garnish, not an appetizer. If you opt to do this anyways, throw your bartender an extra tip for not only imbibing, but feeding you as well.
A few examples:
“I’d like a dry Sapphire martini, stirred, straight up with a twist, please.”
“I’d like a dirty Ketel One martini, shaken and on the rocks with an olive - do you have blue cheese stuffed olives? Great. I’d like one of those, please.”
Take a minute and give it some thought. Practice saying it out loud a few times, like maybe in the mirror or whatever, and then head on down to your local waterin’ hole. Get ready to wow the pants off those barkeeps with your newfound ability to actually articulate what you like to drink!
In conclusion, here is a dark and blurry photo of me pouring a martini: