“Martini” is the most devalued word in alcohol after “Tequila” (a fine agave liquor reduced to poisonous battery acid by generations of slamming fratboys). Drinking something turns it into urine, and people still found a way to ruin Martinis even harder. There is no such thing as a Martini list, because there are only two types of Martini: anywhere claiming to have forty doesn’t know how to make even one. Things have gotten so bad that even Bond screws it up, and when Bond gets something wrong it legally no longer exists. He orders a Vodka Martini (which isn’t a Martini, that’s why it has a different name) then suavely specifies “Shaken, not stirred.” Which sounds cool as an unlikely hell until you realise it means “Dilute it with lots of water and dissolve fizzy little bubbles in it. ”
I’ve decided to see just how far the mighty have fallen – by drinking them. Bars might manslaughter Martinis into lazy alcoholic slushees, but how bad can things get when you really work at it? I’ll solve this problem the way I solved everything as an undergraduate: drinking, strange tastes in my mouth and regret. But first, a quick refresher course:
A Martini is:
- 2 oz gin
- 1/2 oz dry vermouth
- Olive, or lemon twist
Stir the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker, pour into a chilled Martini glass and add your garnish. The chilled glass is not optional.
The other Martini (a “perfect”) splits the vermouth half-and-half sweet and dry. That’s the sum total of Martinis possible with current technology. Anything else you just happens to be in a martini glass. This has happened before with the Cosmopolitan, invented by bartenders sick of wasting proper drinks on people who wanted to look cool with the glass. Because anyone who cares more about what a drink’s look than its taste literally does not know what its’ for. And should have their drinks in a sippy-cup.
When even 007 can’t be trusted with a drink god knows what the real world will do with it. God and me, because I’m off to make the maddest Martinis I can find and drink them, and even He won’t want to deal with the aftermath.
If you want something ruined as hard as possible, you need to get online.
Most of the recipes I found use vodka instead of gin because the internet is made of liars and heretics. I fixed that because I’m more qualified than any website, and many distilleries.
Mere moments of searching yielded the “Garlictini”, the most horrific combination of two of my favorite things since a cheerleader got sucked* into a jet engine. But the recipe I found seemed suspicious
*the phrase “got sucked” technically makes this three of my favorite things
That’s just a Martini with garlic-stuffed olives, and when your revolutionary new drink is just flavoring the garnish you’re a less adventurous drinker than a newborn baby. At least they slurp from live human flesh. My suspicions were confirmed by examining the site, revealing clues that it was for brittle-boned kittens.
I repaired the recipe by infusing an entire clove of garlic in about 4 oz of gin. This may be the first time “infusion” has violated the Geneva convention.
After a week of infusion simply opening the jar tore a portal in space to Garlic World – an alternate universe where Garlic became sentient, developed chemical weaponry, decided they hated us and waited for me to open this jar.
The raw garlic gin is the most aggressive use of the word “raw” since a tyrannosaur ate shark-meat. Properly applied, garlic is approximately infinity times more intense than alcohol. Improperly applied, as here, the ratio can only be expressed in damage to the facial muscles. My skull locked in an overload rictus for a full minute, and I can still taste the garlic on my tongue. Whoever you are, whenever you’re reading this, I guarantee that I am still tasting this garlic on my tongue.
I’ve enjoyed other drinks more while throwing them up. Can Martinization save the day?
The result is a testament to the power of the Martini – it’s not nearly as terrible. I was bracing like a man about to crash a helicopter into his own tongue, and even more confused about how such a crime against myself was possible, but stirring with vermouth softened the taste into something survivable. I can’t overstate how big a deal this is. I’m now confident some vermouth and a sufficiently large stirstick could solve the BP oil spill. I haven’t seen such a horrifically destructive green thing relaxed so hard since they used a steam shovel to give the Hulk a handjob.
Just don’t mistake this for anything drinkable. Martinification made the difference between headbutting a nuclear warhead and merely catching an incendiary grenade in your mouth: neither is anything someone who likes tasting things should do. My stomach grew a voice to inform me that whatever sort of deal I thought we’d had for the last thirty years, it could get up and leave any time. Specifically by throwing itself out of my mouth and flushing itself down the toilet if I touched another drop of that garlic gin.
The Cajun Martini
This is perfect – I’m seeking the destruction of Martinis, and Cajun couldn’t be more opposite to Martini if it was creole for initraM and made out of anti-matter. The recipe required two small peppers for an entire bottle of gin. I spent several minutes searching for the text saying “if you’re a wimp”, before realising – Duh! It’s implied! I chopped two large green peppers and infused them into 4 oz of gin.
Please imagine the powerful yellow-black warning signs and biohazard logos. I’m too busy holding my tastebuds inside my mouth. I left it to brew in the fridge for a week, giving my face enough time to write its will.
Even, nay, especially after the Garlictini I really wasn’t ready for this result: it was really good. The peppergin was warm and spicy, a tingling aftertaste without being too aggressive. I felt like I’d just desecrated a tomb underneath Frankenstein’s castle, and the only result was a successful archaeological career!
The Cajuntin was even better. The vermouth-gin balance was brilliant, a real glowing Martini woven with spicy highlights. I’m going to make more of this for the future and serve them to anyone upset that my face didn’t catch fire.
Bacon! Just after zombies and your own genitals on the internet’s big list of things to ruin by overuse. Luckily dead pig is utterly un-ruinable by mere human hands – unless you make a Bacontini. The online “Bacontini” (and those aren’t just “air quotes” but “annoying ‘air quotes‘ said out loud in a mincing voice while flouncing your hands in the air”) is just rimming the glass with bacon salt, which makes even the garlic-olive recipe above look like Dan Dare’s Anti-Death potion.
I fixed the hell out of this, infusing three bacon strips into 4 oz of gin for over a week.
Infusion is like playing with gasoline – easy to do and even easier to spectacularly hurt yourself. The bacon gin had a week in the fridge followed by half an hour in the freezer, which expert meat-infusers recommend for the sophisticated and subtle stage of “trying to remove some of the continents of fat”
I filtered the whole thing four times but this liquid simply doesn’t flow – it seeps. It drips. It suppurates, which is a word for slowly leaking evil liquid I read in a horror book once and haven’t got to use until now. This is one of those times where the obvious comes back to bite you in the ass: yes, the gin smelled like bacon. Specifically, it smells like freezing cold bacon fat, which in retrospect is so obvious the only reason I didn’t see it coming was denial.
It’s time for Martinization and prayers for forgiveness. I didn’t garnish the others, but this time it seemed appropriate so I fried up a fresh rasher of bacon, apologizing to it the entire time. Sometimes life isn’t fair: you’re born a pig, killed, slashed into strips, and then things get even worse.
Once again Martinization cushions the damage, though every swallow still leaves you with the horrible sense that you need to chew.
And why does this burn so much more than regular Martinis? I didn’t add any spices or smoked bacon. The heat is some sort of thermodynamic offense by reality itself, sizzling and sparking around this horror I have unleashed upon the Earth and it’s happening inside my mouth. I’m glad I used the metal, as a glass would undoubtedly have
- shattered in my face
- unfairly improved the drink with the superior taste of swallowing my own blood.
I think I’ve set the Martini-ruining bar pretty high. Now let’s see what the outside world can offer. I’m off to the outside world to see what they can unleash.
The Martini In The Street
I walked out my front door and kept going to the first place that promised martinis. I didn’t have to walk far, since claims of Martinis in pubs are as common as claims of penis extension online, and usually about as accurate.
First lesson: just because a place makes a big deal of advertising Martinis on their signage, fourteen times on their own menu, and the claims of their own servers doesn’t mean they know a damn thing about martinis.
“Does this place do Martinis?” I asked the approaching bartender.
“We’re great at Martinis!”
“A classic martini!” I joyfully declared.
“Sure, vodka or gin?”
That is not a casual question when someone tells you they know Martinis. That’s like ordering a steak and being asked “Sure, would you like me to wipe my ass with it?” – you can give the right answer but you don’t want to eat there anymore.
I said I’d like gin. I got what would have been a half-competent vodka martini if it hadn’t arrived cradled in a bowl of filth masquerading as, and what a shovel and few hours might have revealed to be, a martini glass. I could see small bacterial civilizations getting pissed on the shores of the drink, erecting crude seawalls where their valuable dirt was being dissolved into the alcohol. The glass would have delighted an archaeologist, clear proof that a civilization invented fine glassworking five thousand years ago and then immediately forgot the first example in a ditch until this moment.
I took the glass back to the bar, told him it was dirty, and god’s honest truth this is what he said.
“It can’t be, we wash them every day!”
I quickly checked I hadn’t lost any fingers to leprosy just from touching the glass, and left.
I gave blind luck a chance and it kicked me in the throat – this time I searched the city for the best bartenders, and found Brock of the Tequila Tavern and Burger Bar.
Brock loves drink, and he loves people who love drink, and is therefore the best possible bartender. He’d just picked up some hops for his own beer-brewing experiments. This is a man who spends all day serving drinks, and his hobby is making more drink, and when I asked him to invent a new Martini he responded by combining both. This man is the Caped Crusader of alcoholic invention, turning both business and play to the battle against sobriety. I think I love him.
UPLOAD UPDATE: Since this article was written, Brock has founded the wildly successful Kensington Brewing Company. So lots of people love him.
The gin hoptini was wonderful, almost sweet with grassy, citrus tones and a ludicrously long bitter aftertaste. We’re talking Jason Voorhees ludicrously long-lived, after you think the credits have rolled (and several successively worse movies have been made) you can still taste it. You’ll have to excuse this sounding like an actual review, because this drink was extremely not terrible.
The Vodka Hoptini
If you want a terrible Martini, you need Vodka! Here we learned exactly why real Martinis use gin – where the Hoptini was an enjoyable oddity, taking up the flavors of the hops throughout the structure of the balanced cocktail, the Vodka Hoptini was vodka with grit in it. It was like a broken espresso machine dispensing a silty powder in a solution that tasted like a leaking battery.
After that we had a Bacon-bourbon with pickled Jalapenos, and in stark defiance of everything I’d learned independently the bacon-drink wasn’t horror.
But that’s a story for another article.
The Ultimate Martini
I’ve earned a real drink, if only to avoid an aversion reaction to Martinis for the rest of my life, so I finished the day in one of Toronto’s top cocktail bars, barchef.
I was served me a “Martini Three Ways”, a molecular mixology masterpiece – a five-course Martini presentation which could win a Nobel Prize. In Chemistry, Literature, hell, even Peace if you could get rival warlords to have one – there is no problem this drink could not solve.
The five courses involve molecular mixology, a monoglyceride rosemary foam, infused alcohol and a reverse spherified liquid suspension – this drink is smarter than my degree (though the alcohol content works out about the same.) And all those parts are merely enhancing the base. Which happens to be the best Martini you’ve had in your life.
At this point in my experiments I usually hate you all for what’s happened to me (whether it’s because I’ve exploded my stomach, stripped out my tongue, or burned out my nervous system), but that’s because those experiments didn’t end with me drinking The Antidote To Unhappiness. This Martini was like finding that El Dorado’s town square is the fountain of youth, dispensing a perfect ratio of gin stirred with dry vermouth.
And I can now say I’ve done something better than Bond. You can’t put a price on that.
This article first appeared on the now-defunct ZUG.com
It has been edited for length and slight excruciation mitigation, an inevitable effect of reading your own writing from years ago.