A Great Martini According to Taffyg2003

I saw a great comment on how to make a good martini from Taffyg2003, posted as a reply to a question era_02_1983 asked on the 360 review. Since I’m not a martini drinker and I rarely talk about martinis, I thought Taffyg2003’s comments would be helpful to everyone. So, I’m cross-posting his thoughts below for everyone to read.

To answer your question regarding how to make and taste a martini, I will start with a description of the basic ingredients. Historically, a martini is a cocktail that is typically 3 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth and garnished with a lemon zest slice. Often, it is garnished with 3 olives instead, as I prefer. In recent years, vodka has become an alternative to gin, and dryer cocktails using less vermouth have come into vogue. My preference is a very dry vodka martini garnished with 3 olives. The ingredients can be stirred or shaken, which I prefer due to a softening of the intensity of the cocktail’s flavor.

In evaluating a vodka martini, I look for a few aspects of the drink’s expressions. Since the majority of the cocktail is made of vodka, it is mainly the vodka that influences the results. First, I sniff the aroma to get a sense of the balance and quality of its ingredients. Then, I sip the martini to determine its initial flavor characteristics. I look for a sip that is mildly bittersweet with a fairly mellow assertiveness. Next, I get a sense of the vodka’s smoothness as the sip flows toward the back of my mouth. Then, upon swallowing the cocktail, I evaluate how much of a bite/burn the vodka exhibits. I like a vodka that imparts only a mild bite rather than a strong or nearly absent one. This leads to a pleasant, almost mint-like, cooling effect. Finally, I assess the aftertaste. I tend to enjoy a vodka martini that has a lingering mild bittersweet aftertaste; something by which to remember the enjoyable sip. I suppose that one additional aspect of the cocktail that I notice is if the martini’s pleasant characteristics remain consistent from the first to the last sip. Unfortunately, some martinis, including some that I make at home, tend to emphasize the less enjoyable vermouth flavors in the final few sips.

Based on your comments, you may have already read that my favorite vodka, especially for martinis, is Crystal Head, though 360 is also quite good and a fair amount less expensive, too. If you get a chance, give it a try. If you haven’t had much experience with vodka martinis, give a few a try in order to get a sense for how different they can taste based upon the ingredients used and their mixed proportions.


Robert Brodrecht

  • cjinsomniac

    Taffy, it’s clear you are a person of discriminating taste, and not reluctant to xperiment and report the results.

    I am an absolute heretic.

    I made my first “Martini” with 3 shots Sobieski at 65 F and BLACK olives, 5 of them, dirty as hell, and a bit of sea salt. I have no shot glass, so I just poured twice, very quickly, and found I had too much vodka for 2 or 3 olives. I later put in a pinch of sugar, which unexpectedly brought the alcohol front and center. Much better without it. My Martini will be Sobi with sea salt and however many olives it takes, no vermouth, unless and until I find a better vodka for it.

    I have tried gin, and the Sobi has all the “aftercool” I need. I might use a very good gin if I ever want to drink vermouth,but good vodka and olives makes a great drink IMHO.


  • rbdeli

    We all have our own rituals when it comes to Martinis. I like them very dry and even with vodka just a touch of vermouth. I actually put two or three olives with very little olive juice in the bottom of the martini glass and then just a dash of vermouth over the olives. I shake the vodka in a stainless steel shaker until my hand is frost bitten and my arm is about to fall off..then I pour..and if you like a dirty gin martini, I have some advice here:

    How To Make a Martini


  • taffyg2003

    @Robert, thank you for your gratifying highlight of an excerpt of my post about how I make and taste a vodka martini. Ultimately, there is no magic recipe to concoct a perfect vodka martini because everyone’s taste is a little different. Even I have not yet found the “perfect” martini. But, part of the fun is in the experimentation with the the ingredients, proportions, and even the mixing methods. My latest approach, which you had suggested over a year ago, is to forego the vermouth entirely. I also don’t bother with the olive garish when I prepare martinis at home, though I still uphold this convention when I am at a bar or restaurant.

    To each, his own… cheers!


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