First appearing in the 1920s or the 1878s depending on the source. Popularized by William “Sparrow” Robertson, a sports writer for the New York Herald Tribune and an American expat living in Paris. This dry cocktail will sparkle on the tongue. The Old Pal is snappy, bitter, dry, and delicious.
This is at once the easiest and hardest cocktails to make. It’s dry as a bone with no sugar to hide your mistakes. The perfect vodka martini is an elusive prey. Good hunting.
Now, let’s clarify right off the bat. For the purists out there you are right, there is no such thing as a vodka martini. Martinis are made with gin. That is correct in every respect but usefulness. A vodka martini used to be called the kangaroo and also the vodkatini. Really, we’re not kidding. No wonder the name change. For 40 years now, a martini made with vodka has been a vodka martini. You want to tell James Bond he’s wrong?
So what goes into the perfect vodka martini? First, good vodka is a must. Of course we suggest Indiana Vodka, but feel free to use a lesser vodka, it’s your loss. Good vodka will make a martini sweet and smooth. Second, good dry vermouth is also demanded. Whether you use a liberal amount or just a misting, good dry vermouth is required and we would suggest a French or Italian vermouth. Third, accouterments. Olives, lemon twists, and orange twists are the most common. We like slightly oily pimento stuffed olives. You can use what you like.
Finally, a few things to consider. First, use fresh dry vermouth. Vermouth will go bad in a month or two, or at least take on an icky character. Always buy the smallest vermouth bottle you can and keep it refrigerated. Second, use good fresh ice, not the stuff that’s been accumulating all the flavors of your freezer all week. This goes for all dry cocktails, but especially dry vodka martinis.
As for how much vermouth to use? We are sure doctoral dissertations have been written on this subject. It is a question for the ages. The correct answer (politically correct said the guy at the end of the bar) is use as much or as little as you like. Experiment!
Our classic recipe is below.