4 Winter Martinis from Bartenders in the Country's Coldest Cities
For some reason, there is nothing greater than a biting, crystalline, shiver-inducing martini on these alarmingly cold winter days. We went to four top bartenders in especially blustery places to get their recipes and meditations on the best winter martinis. Here they are from coldest city to “warmest.”
PORTLAND, MAINE: 5° F, feels like -15°F
“As I watch our third snowstorm of the week come down, I kinda wish I had one of our new Hunt + Alpine Gibsons in front of me,” says Andrew Volk from Hunt + Alpine Club. “We make three simple changes to the classic: First, we substitute Old Tom Gin for the classic London Dry. We like Tanqueray Old Tom because it has the appropriate juniper backbone, with a touch more sweetness, but nothing over the top. To balance that sweetness, we spritz an orange peel over the drink. And finally, as we lean towards Scandinavian food, our chef Geoff Wiech pickles our onions (both white and red pearl onions), which we use as a garnish. The play of sweetness, alcohol, acid and crunch between the gin and the onion really brings this to a different level for me; it's not a gratuitous garnish.”
Hunt + Alpine Gibson: Pour 2 ounces Tanqueray Old Tom Gin and ¾ ounce Noilly Pratt Dry Vermouth into a chilled tumbler. Add one large (2" x 2") ice cube. Stir 40-50 times. Twist a wide orange peel over the drink to release the oils and then make a orange/cocktail onion flag on a toothpick with the peel and cocktail onions.
MINNEAPOLIS: 15° F, feels like 4°F
"Growing up in Northern Minnesota, I've learned to love the stark beauty of winter,” Peder Schweigert of Marvel Bar says. “Stepping from a warm and cozy room into bracing cold that all but takes your breath is a daily ritual that really enriches my life. Something about that exhilarating crispness, the squeak that snow makes at -25 below zero, reminds me of the martini. Just four ingredients, handled properly, mingle together to make one of the perfect cocktails. Our martini is a bit wet by today's standards; 65mL gin to 25mL French dry vermouth with just a few drops of orange bitters and water. In my experience, the drinkability and longevity of the cocktail both hinge on appropriate dilution, maybe more than you would expect.”
NEW YORK CITY: 28° F, feels like 23°F
“Colder is better,” says Xavier Herit from bar Wallflower. Herit sticks to the classic recipe, with a few abolutes: 2 and ½ ounces of a good London Dry-style gin (like Citadelle from his native France), ½ ounce Dolin Dry Vermouth, stirred not shaken (so it’s not too dilute), and served up in a coupe. “But most importantly,” he says, “you have to have a good garnish.” He loves pitted green Castelvetrano olives from Sicily.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: 44° F, feels like 36°F
Adam Bernbach from 2 Birds 1 Stone changes up the gin he uses for martinis in colder months. “I opt for the slightly fuller Ginavit from Green Hat [a D.C. distillery],” he says. “I find it has a coriander note that's great for winter citrus so I go a bit heavier on the orange, with a couple of dashes of Bitter Truth Orange bitters and an orange twist to play that up.