The importance of ice cold glassware
Story by Naren Young, follow him @forkandshaker
In the last couple of years, I’ve become enamoured – perhaps even obsessed – with the Martini. Sure, I’ve been drinking them for years, when the Bayswater Brasserie was probably the place in Sydney to get a great one, conditioned me onto this potent, bracing elixir and all the minutiae and folklore that goes along with crafting a perfect one. In several bars I’ve run over the years, I’ve made it a point to have a dedicated point to have a highly curated Martini menu or at the very least, a signature serve of one killer version.
Of course there’s myriad details that go into a great Martini and for many ardent imbibers of the drink, it is and only is a highly personalized experience where they take the reins and insist that it only be made their way. Stirred anti clockwise for 27 rotations and served on crushed ice with onions, olives and a lemon twist? Sure, coming right up! We’re a devout and fussy bunch us Martini drinkers and I make no apologies for that!
For me, the two most important aspects in reaching Martini nirvana are temperature and balance. Of course the drink should be frigid as humanly possible and the balance should come from the fact that it shouldn’t be alcoholic. That is not an enjoyable experience with any drink in my opinion, especially one where you’re downing mostly pure alcohol. For that reason, I’ve taken to pre-bottling and pre-diluting many of my Martinis, which has many benefits.
Firstly, they’re extremely fast to serve. Straight into a frozen glass and voila! They’re more consistent because I’ve already figured out the perfect dilution ration of alcohol to water so the drink is, as I mentioned, well balanced. They’re served at the perfect temperature, which should be cold AF! And if you pour them from nice bottles with custom labels then it becomes a lovely and elegant serving ritual that I’ve found that my guests really appreciate. And the social media benefits of people posting about them doesn’t hurt either.
The only downside to this is that now the Martini cannot be personalized with a pre-bottled version but if someone wants to change up the brand or ratios or whatever, then I can easily just make one from scratch for them. Sometimes this can be tricky because some of my Martinis (and many of my drinks in general) might often have 8-10 ingredients in there, which is why I rely so heavily on batching in all my bar programs, for both speed and consistency purposes.
It’s not just the Martini that gets my freezer treatment either. For any drinks that are to be served up (and therefore without any ice), I typically keep these in the freezer (as opposed to the fridge) and are typically diluted a little more. I don’t have a specific ratio and it all depends on the overall alcohol content of the drink, but for something that is not as high proof, around 20% water is added per litre, while I might go as high as 30% if the alcohol content is higher or there’s some more challenging flavors in there that could do with a touch more water.
For drinks that are served on the rocks, however, I often just keep these in the fridge and I don’t dilute these as much (somewhere around 15% water but again, I don’t have a hard and fast rule I stick to here). Some have argued to me that the ‘romance’ of bartending is lost by just pouring these drinks from a bottle into a glass. What a load of nonsense!
And when you have 70 drinks on the menu, like we did at Dante, then having a handful of them pre-bottled and pre-diluted that can fly over the bar in seconds, then it makes for happier guests and isn’t that the point? We had pre-made Old Fashioneds ready to be poured over a large rock, frozen Sazeracs poured straight into a frozen tumbler and too many Negronis to mention here, all ready to go. Gimme a preposterously cold and balanced Martini pulled straight from the freezer any day of the week.