“Shaken, not stirred,” a drink order made famous by James Bond, may have introduced a generation to the martini. While his request for the specificity of his drink may be incorrect, his drink of choice, the martini, is not.
While it seems straightforward, the way a martini with olives tastes depends on a few factors. You can make your martini with gin or vodka, dirty or dry, shaken or stirred. All of these contribute to what a martini with olives tastes like.
To get a better idea of what martinis with olives taste like, let’s look at ways to make a martini. Then we can discuss how each changes the flavor of the drink. But first, let’s talk about what a martini is.
What is a Martini
A classic martini is an alcoholic beverage made with gin and dry vermouth. Vermouth is essentially wine with brandy that has some herbs or sweeteners added. These are then mixed with ice, strained into a glass, and garnished with either a lemon peel or an olive.
Today there are a variety of ways to make a martini. They come in every flavor from chocolate to coffee to apple. With whole bars devoted to martinis, the drink has come a long way.
And while a classic martini is made with gin, it’s perfectly acceptable to have one made with vodka. These days, vodka martinis are just as popular as gin. The only reason for choosing one over the other should be taste.
In addition to your choice of base alcohol, a martini also includes its mixer alcohol, vermouth. While vermouth is an afterthought for a lot of people, we’ll explain what it is and why it’s important.
And we’ll also discuss why James Bond’s martini isn’t a hit with bartenders. Preparation is important to the overall taste and feel of a martini with olives.
Gin vs Vodka
The age-old debate, which is the better base for your martini? This is a hill that people will die on. Don’t let someone talk you out of choosing which one you want by telling you it’s wrong.
So how do you decide which is the one for you? Here’s a quick guide on the differences between gin and vodka.
Gin is the classic base for a martini. As it’s made from juniper berries it has an herbal, flowery taste.
If you choose gin, your martini with olives will have a stronger flavor palate with finishing notes of earthiness.
Vodka is also a popular base for martinis. However, unlike gin, vodka has a neutral flavor. Unless you add something to it, you’ll taste little more than the alcohol itself.
If you choose vodka, your martini with olives will taste more like the olives or the vermouth you’ve added. Assuming you choose a good vodka, there should be a smooth finish with a hint of olive.
Dry vs Dirty
You can choose to order your drink dirty or dry (or extra dirty or extra dry). You can combine dirty and dry to create different combinations, all of which will change the flavor of your martini. Here’s how to sound like you know what you’re talking about when ordering your martini with olives.
Traditionally, ordering a martini dry meant you got white vermouth, which is drier than sweet vermouth. However, today ordering a dry martini generally means you simply get less vermouth.
Keep in mind, less vermouth does not necessarily mean you get more vodka or gin. It most likely means that the ratio of your base alcohol to your vermouth changes.
You can also order your martinis extra dry. Generally speaking you will receive no more than a tiny splash of vermouth and swirled around your glass.
Drinking an extra dry martini with olives tastes mostly like your base alcohol.
Making your martini dirty means adding some olive brine into the mix. This will make your martini with olives taste salty and a little acidic.
Depending on the amount of brine used, it will also change the color of your martini. Classically, martinis are clear in color, however, adding olive brine will turn it a pale, cloudy green.
An extra dirty martini takes the olive brine from ‘some’ to as much as a one-to-one ratio with your base alcohol. Like a dry martini, it will also change the color to a muddy green.
Order your martinis extra if you enjoy a super salty beverage. Or if you like the idea of drinking a martini, but don’t love either gin or vodka. Drinking your martini this way will ensure you taste more of the olive brine than anything else.
Shaken vs Stirred
It’s the preparation that Mr. Bond got wrong. Most bartenders will tell you that when mixing a martini, it is best to stir it, not shake. So what’s the difference and what happens during each process?
When you order a drink shaken, it’s put into a cocktail shaker with ice and, well, shaken. During this process, the base alcohol, the vermouth, the olive brine, and the ice are mixed together and chilled.
While shaking does make your drink colder, it also dilutes the drink and changes the texture by adding tiny air bubbles. A martini, no matter how it’s made, is meant to be smooth. Air bubbles give it a frothy texture that is best reserved for things like daiquiris.
A stirred martini keeps your drink smooth, a hallmark feature of any martini. In order to get the same level of chill in a stirred martini, keep your martini glass in the freezer.
In this method, you’ll want to put the ingredients of your choice into a metal shaker. You’ll want to use large ice cubes so they dissolve and dilute your drink. Then stir them together and strain into the chilled martini glass.
A Variety of Flavors
So depending on the choices you make regarding your martini with olives, your tastes can vary. Generally speaking, a vodka martini will taste more like what you mix it with. And in a gin martini, you can enjoy the flavors of the gin.
Try out all the combinations you can see if you like the way a martini with olives tastes!