Happy hour at home should be EXACTLY how you like it. Your martini made just the right way, your food made perfectly to your cravings and it should be less expensive and more fun!
Martinis are my staple cocktail, but I rarely order one when I do go out. It turns out, I like the way I make them the best! That might make me sound like a jerk, but I would rather order that drink with the ingredients I don’t have and is probably too complicated for me to make at home when I’m out. So I save martinis for when I’m home. Joel and I both love them made exactly this way: shaken, dry and very cold.
Martinis can be made with either gin or vodka. We use gin! Find one that you like. Our absolute favorite is Organic Nation Gin, but if you want a bottle, you’ll be hard pressed to find one. We also have been liking Farmer’s Botanical Small-Batch Gin, and we use that as our “everyday gin.” Organic Nation is reserved for special occasions! A lot of people also like Aviation Gin and Beefeater Gin. I tell you, I’ve tried them and Organic Nation and/or Farmer’s are still my preference. I love the juniper and pine flavors! Hendricks is too floral and herbal for this dry martini, but it’s perfect in my garden gimlet. For my vermouth, I keep it super simple. I just use dry vermouth from my grocery store, or a similar less expensive one from the liquor store (that may shock you mixologists out there, but you’ll see why I use it when I get into the method of mixing this drink!)
The shaker I use is a wide-mouth pint sized canning jar with a NEW lid and rim (by new I mean has not been used for canning a jar before-it still has the good rubber seal on the edge). You can also use an old peanut butter, mustard or whatever glass jar that has been washed out with a good lid. Test it if you must: put some water in the jar and close the lid tightly. Shake. Did water come out? If not, then it’s good to go! If it did, find a new jar and lid that won’t leak. Nothing is worse then gin flying all over you and your kitchen, trust me on that one! Also, test your jar to make sure the strainer will fit inside of it.
My Martini Method:
Take a glass, preferably one with a stem. Pour a teaspoon or two of vermouth in it. Swirl it around the glass, and dump it straight into the sink with one swift, decisive motion. (see how little vermouth is in there? That’s perfect!)
Then, fill your jar or shaker with ice, about halfway.
Put the lid on tightly. Shake! Shake about 30 seconds to get it really cold. Using a hawthorne strainer, pour into a glass. The special strainer allows the little ice crystals that form in your gin to make it into your glass. You wan’t those! They are the hallmark of a really great martini.
With your martini in your glass, add your garnish. I like an olive with a few extra drips of olive juice from the jar, just whatever comes off the spoon is perfect.
Sometimes I switch it up by adding something other then an olive. Here’s some other things that work really well for a dry/savory martini (sorry, we don’t do the twist around here, it’s all salt, all the time).
- Pickled brussel sprouts! Yes, these can be found in the store but you can also make your own small jar of quick-pickled sprouts and store them in the fridge.
- Pickled asparagus (a small spear or one cut in half)
- Pickled or raw beet cube
- Stinky blue cheese cube, or a blue cheese stuffed olive
- Pickled grape (you should absolutely make these, they are from that book I mentioned before,
- A small gherkin pickle
- Pickled Onion
I think you’ll notice a trend here. Try things that are pickled in this or have a distinctive flavor like the blue cheese (oh man, a gin-soaked cube of cheese!? Girl, please.) Eating the garnish at the bottom is my favorite part. You should experiment and find garnishes that go well with your gin.
So with our martini made nice and stiff, let’s focus on the artichoke hearts. These are quick and easy and a nice little break from all the cheese we’ve been eating lately. You can make these a couple days ahead of time, too.
I used thawed boxed artichoke hearts. Those go into a bowl with olive oil, salt, thyme (fresh or dried, I had fresh so I used it), oregano, red chile flakes, and lemon juice. Stir it up and your done. These are good made and eaten right away, but the longer they sit the better they taste.
I had some of this assorted charcuterie sitting in my fridge, which sounds ridiculous to say, but it’s true. I have an addiction to organic grocery stores, and the one I happened to visit this week had these little mixed packs of sliced cured meats. It’s a fun way to try a bunch of stuff, as long as you are fine with not really knowing what it is. They are usually between 3 and 4 dollars (depending on weight) and in or near the cheese case. Look at your specialty grocery store next time you go! If they don’t have them, just try something new from the deli case. They don’t mind only slicing a little for you (i.e. you don’t need to make a 18-dollar a pound commitment if you’ve never tried Speck before.)
So with a folded up piece of (what I think is) dry coppa, and an artichoke heart on a party pick, and you are all set. Take a bite and sip on your martini. Mmmm. The artichoke compliments the gin so well! Maybe next time I’ll just put a marinated artichoke heart IN my martini….
- 1-2 teaspoons vermouth
- 2.5 ounces gin
- Garnish of choice (olive, onion, brussel sprout)
- For the artichoke hearts:
- 1 9-oz box of artichoke hearts, thawed, or the equivalent of canned
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Pour the vermouth into a martini glass, swirl, dump it out.
- Fill a shaker halfway with ice and pour in the gin. Shake at least 30 seconds, but not too long. The ice will melt and water down the drink if you shake too much.
- Using a strainer, pour into a jar. Garnish with and olive and a few drops olive juice.
- To make the artichoke hearts:
- Rinse artichoke hearts under cold water. Combine artichokes, oil, salt, thyme, oregano and chile flakes in a small mixing bowl.
- Serve now, or in a day or two. To store, cover and refrigerate.