The Filthy Martini

Gird your loins and lock up your daughters – and sons, for that matter.

  

Martinis cause a lot of confusion. There are many myths out there over things like how to prepare them, how to drink them, who said what about them and where they originally come from.

 
Of course, a drink that contains 6 units of alcohol was always likely to foment disarray, but hopefully this blog is helping cut through the fog. And oh haven’t there been some foggy days putting it together (all that painstaking ‘research’ etc). 

Anyway, the filthy martini seems to cause quite a lot of confusion on its own, with many people, including those at well-known gin brands mistakenly believing it to be a dirty martini with extra olive juice.

 
This is incorrect.

In fact, the filthy martini is the creation of the above, humble caperberry.

Another delectable gift from Fragata, these berries are the matured form of capers (caper buds), endemic to many parts of the world with a Mediterranean or semi-arid climate. They are often pickled and regularly served with seafood or in salads. The pickled caper bud is a well-known constituent of tartare sauce.

The caperberry is juicer but still delightfully tart and was even once thought to have been an aphrodisiac (please see asparagus and oysters).

The berries are frequently pickled in brine for consumption in countries where they don’t grow naturally (such as in Northern Europe), which allows us to create this martini variation. The pickling process also seems to bring out a savoury mustard-like aroma in the berries which cuts in very well to the clean juniper of a classic martini.

I also love their texture, firm and fleshy on the outside, with satisfying crunchy seeds inside that pop, almost like a vegetarian form of Japanese tobiko (flying fish roe).

  

Anyway, here’s how to make the drink:

  • Take a strip of lemon peel and squeeze and rub it into a chilled martini glass to transfer the lemon oil.
  • Add caperberry brine to taste (usually between 2-6tsp).
  • Add vermouth to taste (usually between 2tsp to 30ml depending on your preferences and the size of your glass).
  • Top up with gin/vodka (usually around 90-130ml depending on the size of your glass).
  • Stir with the lemon peel (which you can then discard).
  • Drop a single caperberry into the drink.
  • Serve.

  

 
I would recommend serving more caperberries on the side, potentially with some other nibbles as well if you’re particularly hungry.

  
This martini works particularly well as an aperitif before some good seafood, particularly any kind of fish served fried in batter, from cod to calamari.

Enjoy.

  
#FILTH!

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A selection of other people’s martinis

With world martini day approaching (19 June) I thought I would collate a selection of martinis made by other people.

  
Here is a very elegant martini served in beautiful cut-glass, picture courtesy of Aquavit_1017 on Instagram.

  
A vodka martini with Tito’s vodka by Mr. Cradle.

The following are by the highly creative chef The Juan And Only Chef Sweaty

 

Above is his classic martini with lime.

 
Here is a kiwi-drop martini.

  

Here is one of his pomegranite martinis (I think this one would be very popular in the Middle East by the way).

  

And here is a home-grown guava martini. Where do you have to live so that guavas grow in your garden? Clearly not Britain (unless someone can prove me wrong?).

 
Here is a very evocative classic martini in beautiful lighting from martini_whisperer

 

And here are two silky-looking espresso martinis from texasraisedgypsies

If anyone else has any martini pictures they would like me to share please just tag me in the photo on Instagram.

The mango martini



Growing up on an island off the west coast of Scotland, I don’t think I even saw a mango until I was a fully grown adult living on the mainland. However they almost immediately became my favourite fruit. I love their sweetness combined with a zesty taste that reminds me of the smell of pine needles.

This pine flavour might be one of the reasons this fruit it goes well with gin. I think it compliments the juniper which also has notes of pine (Christ that sounds pretentious). Anyway, for the sake of objectivity I tried eating a mango cube followed by chewing a juniper berry and the two seemed to go well together.



In order to make a mango martini get yourself a tin of mango slices in syrup.



Pour the syrup into a glass and place it in the freezer for around 45 minutes to cool down.



Take a fresh mango and slice off an end, cutting it as close to the stone as possible. Use a blunt knife to cut the flesh of the cut side into cross-crossed squares but be sure not to cut through the skin of the fruit.



You can then invert the sliced piece which makes it easier to cut out little cubes of the flesh.

You’ll be left with a piece of skin that by law you must chew and suck while your guests aren’t watching. Don’t let any of that succulent flesh go to waste!



When it’s time to pour add a measure of vermouth (to taste), then fill up the rest of the glass approximately half and half with gin/vodka and the mango syrup.



Garnish with a slice of mango and serve with some of the pieces of mango as an accompaniment.



I also had my first breakfast on the balcony this year the next morning. A cup of tea with mango pieces and a small sprinkling of pepper – an unusual combination I first tried during my time in Sri Lanka. I’m not sure why it works but it does!

Maraschino Cherry Martini

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I love the sweet taste of maraschino cherries, so I thought I would incorporate it into a classic martini.

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I made a classic martini and simply added two teaspoons of maraschino cherry syrup then garnished the drink with one of the cherries.

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Simple.

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Goes well with a cookie. Apparently.

The Mangoosteeni

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Mangoosteen are an unusual looking tropical fruit with a thick, purple skin and soft, sweet white flesh, similar in taste to a lychee.

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In order to make a martini out of them, I followed a very simple formula similar to a Lychee Martini.

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Take a tin of mangoosteen (you can find them in specialist Asian supermarkets), then make the martini as follows (you can alter it to taste):

1 dash sweet vermouth
3 measures of gin or vodka
3 measures of mangoosteen syrup
Mangoosteen pieces on a toothpick to garnish

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It’s sweet and not as strong as a full martini.

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Did I mention I love mangoosteens?

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You could even have them as an accompaniment to a normal martini.

The Apple Martini (aka the Appletini)

This drink, the apple martini, took several attempts (and a strong liver) to perfect.

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My first recipe simply involved sour apple spirit (there are several brands) mixed with vodka (stored for at least a day in the freezer) garnished with an apple slice.

2 parts sour apple spirit
4-5 parts vodka
Apple slice

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While visually appealing with its clear green hue, I thought its chemical flavour was too strong and did not do justice to the fruit. I wanted a more natural apple taste. I also thought I could do more with the garnish.

So, after a few different experiments, I came up with the following:

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Thinly slice a green apple into round slivers, one for each of the martinis you intend to make. Try to make them as thin as possible so they are flexible, almost like paper, although this is difficult without breaking them.

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Cover both sides of the slices in sugar and set aside in the fridge, ideally for half an hour or more. If you know how to crystallise fruit this might be a good way to do it as well.

Chop up the rest of the apple into small chunks, discarding the core.

Put a squeeze of honey (around 1-2 tsp) into a Pyrex bowl and add around 30ml of boiling water. Stir until the honey dissolves.

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Add the apple, then add around 50ml sour apple spirit.

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Use a hand blender to turn the mixture into a small, highly alcoholic smoothie.

Take a martini glass from the freezer, then add the following in order:

1 measure sweet vermouth (or to taste)
2 measures of the smoothie (or to taste)
2-3 measures of vodka (or to taste)

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How you garnish the martini is up to you.

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But if you serve the slice of sugar-apple floating on the drink you might want to provide your drinkers with chopsticks or some other means of removing the slice elegantly from the glass.

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It’s a very sweet martini.

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And the combination of sugar and alcohol give it quite an explosive quality with a potentially devastating impact.

You have been warned!