Today’s martini started with North Shore Distiller’s Gin No. 6. It’s a lovely gin, a bit off-dry, with juniper that gives way to Valencia orange and honeysuckle. We went through 9 different vermouths, and a few more combinations, before hitting on the preferred recipe to match this gin.
North Shore #6 Martini
2 oz. North Shore Distiller’s Gin No. 6
2.5 tsp. Tribune Extra Dry Vermouth
1.5 tsp. Contratto Americano Rosso Vermouth
1 piece lemon peel
Pour the gin over ice, add vermouth and stir to chill. Strain into cocktail glass, twist peel over the glass then add to the cocktail.
The combination of a clean extra dry vermouth and a relatively sweet floral vermouth bring out the No. 6’s honeysuckle without covering up the juniper or stealing away all of its bite. The drink is soft around the edges, bright with juniper and gentle with citrus and florals. It drinks very easily, a great introductory Martini for the hesitant.
And now a word about vermouth. That vermouth in your liquor cabinet? Go throw it away. Seriously. I’ll wait. … Okay, why don’t people like vermouth? Why do they think the Martini, the most classic of cocktails, tastes terrible? Because vermouth is a wine-based spirit and it starts to oxidize the second it’s opened. It doesn’t get used very often, particularly at home, and by the time you make a martini for the third time the vermouth is over the hill.
So what can you do? Once you open the vermouth, refrigerate it. Even better (and this is what we do at Palate Press, since we have to keep more than a dozen different dry vermouths to test for Martini Mondays), the instant it’s opened pour it off into small bottles filled all the way to the top and refrigerate them. Screw-tops don’t force air down and the bottles can be filled completely, to keep air away. There will be some air exchange on the pour, so go it gently and quickly. With this method your vermouth will last a lot longer and you can enjoy great Martinis year-around.