“Shaken, not stirred.”
Real martini connoisseurs hate James Bond. His famous line for ordering a martini has been repeated by bar amateurs for decades all over the world, and all it leads to is a weak martini and disapproving looks from experts. I learned a lot about the martini when researching for this national food holiday, particularly that stirred is the preferred method of mixing your cocktail. A martini is made up of very few ingredients: gin, a tiny splash of vermouth, and garnished with an olive or lemon peel. That doesn’t leave much room for error in making one! When the cocktail is mixed together on ice, it’s then poured out of the shaker and served chilled, but straight (no ice). That means if you shake the mixer, like Mr. Bond orders, your ice gets crushed up in your martini, and the resulting water and ice debris dilutes your cocktail. And no one wants a weak martini!
And no one wants a wet martini, either. The “wetness” or “dryness” of a martini is based on how much vermouth is used in the formula: the less vermouth, the drier the drink, and the “better” the quality of the cocktail. (And just for reference, a “dirty” martini is when the bartender adds some of the olive juice to the cocktail. Ew.) Hardcore martini-ites say that even no vermouth, or just a splash, works best–to which I say, then aren’t you no longer drinking a “martini” and just having gin? I’m all about the other ‘tinis, like the chocolate martini, the apple-tini…all of which have the “tini” suffix because of the glass they’re served in, and have absolutely nothing to do with the clean gin and vermouth cocktail with a more distinguished pedigree.
With few ingredients and little preparation, it’s clear that the key to a successful dry martini is the quality of the ingredients you put into one. And no one makes a better classic martini in the city than the Flatiron Lounge, located just in the shadow of the famous building it’s named for. Here, the bartenders are deadly serious about the martinis they serve, making sure they’re made with the best gin brands in the business, and using as little vermouth as possible to still call it a “martini.” They also serve the fruity, impostor ‘tinis, and make martinis with additional ingredients like Lychee juice and peach vodka. But to really get the feel of this national food holiday, you’ve got to have it straight: gin, a tiny bit of vermouth, and an olive garnishing the top. An old-school cocktail for an old-school bar. And you better believe they serve it stirred–not shaken.
37 W 19th St (between Avenue Of The Americas & 5th Ave)
“The martini here was my control — a simple, classic martini. I asked the barman, who clearly considered this job a career (and not a conduit for auditioning) to make me his idea of a classic martini. What I got was a martini made with Plymouth gin and a half-jigger of dry vermouth. The ice was cracked the traditional way — ice in hand, cracked with a metal spoon, and then stirred so expertly his hands were a-blur. It was truly the classic gin martini — perfectly cold, juicy, junipery in the mouth, and hazardously easy.”–The Huffington Post
“For a sensational palate teaser enjoy the martini flight. Brought to you by cocktail stylist Julie Reiner. Sip on three mini martinis with a common theme, such as “The Flight to Hawaii”, which highlights drinks with tropical fruits.”–Haute Living
“These days, you can get martinis made with care in two different kinds of New York bars: the old-school spaces, where it feels like having anything but a martini (or maybe a Manhattan) is just wrong; and at the new generation of cocktail bars, where the entrance is often hidden, the mixers are fresh-squeezed, bitters are back and every drink is made with almost appalling care by bartenders who would rather shake up drinks than chat up customers. There, a martini is a good test of the staff.”–The New York Times
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Come in and respect the place, respect the drinks and now that your drinks were made as drinkable art, but then again…your liver is asking for the same respect. Listen to your liver…head over and have a proper drink. Your martini glass will be empty and your liver will be happy.”–Trevor M.
“This place is so consistent in it’s relaxed atmosphere, upscale service, and killer cocktails that it deserves the holy 5-star designation. Yes, I’ve only come here a handful of times but it certainly fills a necessary niche. And sweet jebus those friggin’ drinks are to-die-for! I’m still imbibing my way through the concoctions on the menu but I have enjoyed the namesake Flatiron Martini, and the yummy peach one whose name escapes me (clearly this drink comes after the Flatiron). Perfect place to bring someone you like a lot and want to impress … or at least to get them drunk.”–Jane K.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!