Way back in December of 2009, I wrote a post where I cast aspersions upon drinks masquerading as martinis. At the time, it seemed like everybody wanted to add something sweet to vodka, throw it in a shaker, pour it in a martini glass and give it some kind of martini-ish name.
I’ve mellowed since then. Put whatever you want in your vodka and call it whatever you like.
Mellowness hasn’t killed my curiosity, though. And, I recently read some interesting information about vodka and martinis. According to Serious Eats, a vodka martini is actually a kangaroo. Paul Clarke, the article’s author, says that before the 1950s vodka really wasn’t a well-known bar spirit. Bartenders, he explained, simply took gin-based drink recipes and substituted vodka.
Since the martini moniker was reserved for gin, bartenders began calling this vodka substitute the kangaroo.
You know it when you’re drinking a gin martini. I liken drinking certain gin brands to licking a pine tree. They are not subtle.
People drink martinis to embrace the bold flavor of gin. This, apparently, is also why the most famous martini drinker in the world, James Bond, tells bartenders he wants his, “Shaken, not stirred.”
What’s the connection? Wikipedia explains that early vodkas were distilled from potatoes rather than grain. This made for an oily spirit. Shaking it dispersed the oil, and it also helped to tame the flavor of the vermouth.
Bond’s signature drink, the Vesper martini, is made with both vodka and gin. Three shots of gin, one of vodka, and Kina Lillet instead of vermouth. Read my post from 2009 if you’d like to duplicate what a Vesper might have tasted like when British novelist Ian Fleming — creator of James Bond — introduced us to the secret agent’s Vesper martini. It supposedly didn’t exist until Fleming created it when he wrote “Casino Royale,” published in 1953.
Four shots. I’ll have only one of those this evening.
So sayeth the StickMonkey.