To execute most recipes in a classic cocktail manual, you need a mixing tin, citrus and booze. Today, recipes are more complicated: Rife with foraged produce and bitters that take months to craft, they’re not exactly user-friendly. Enter Wine & Spirits’ House Mix: a collection of recipes and tips for the easy-to-replicate drinks that professional bartenders make at home.
“I want something satisfying after a long night—not a beer,” says Alex Quesada, GM at Local Edition in San Francisco’s Hearst Building. “A good Martini is really cold, really refreshing and really strong. It’s super-clean. You could swim in it.” His standard Martini is stiff and decidedly un-fussy, the one piece of flair being pickled green tomatoes (tomolives) in lieu of olives.
The Quesada Martini
Combine gin and vermouth in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with one or two tomolives on a pick.
“I use one-inch cubes; they melt a little slower, giving me a bit more control of the texture. Stir for 45 to 50 seconds if you are making only one; if you’re making drinks for two, stir a bit longer, for a minute to a minute ten. Just don’t lose the texture. It should be velvety and rich and cold—not thin and dilute. You want it as cold as possible so everything should be chilled: the glasses, the vermouth, the tomolives. And there’s nothing wrong with keeping gin in the refrigerator.”
A Classical Gin
“Beefeater is classic and balanced. It doesn’t bombard you with juniper. Some gins need citrus, but Beefeater stands up on its own. And it’s a great value.”
Vermouth is Back
“A Martini without vermouth is not a Martini. The gin is like a rough bar top that needs sanding. You use the vermouth to round out the abrasiveness of the gin, softening it and boosting the florality while dulling the juniper. “The fastest route to a great Martini is to step up your vermouth game. People stopped using vermouth because you used to walk into a bar and the vermouths were older than the whiskeys. They were spoiled. This has changed. My vermouth is always in the fridge. Dolin is great because it’s not bitter and has the perfect amount of florality. You don’t want anything perfume-y.”
The Mighty Tomolive
“This drink’s cool, silky texture contrasts perfectly with the salty vinegar of the pickled green tomato. I could go on about how the tomolive plays well with the botanicals of the gin and the vermouth—but really, it’s about the rewards: The coolness and the snap of the tomolive at the end of the Martini. The acidity from the pickled green tomato adds something an olive can’t. A lemon twist is great—I love lemon twists in Martinis—but I can’t keep lemons; they always go bad before I use them. I can, however, always keep a jar of tomolives on hand.”
This recipe is a W&S web exclusive.