The Vodka Martini is the cocktail most people know as the drink James Bond orders when he walks up to the bar. “Shaken, not stirred” is inextricably linked to this relatively young classic cocktail recipe. The original recipe dates back to the 1950′s and consists of two ingredients; vodka and French vermouth. Since then this cocktail has been served in many different ways. Shaken or stirred, with a twist, with an olive or an onion (Gibson), dry, medium dry or Churchill dry, just pick your favorite vodka and you can mix yourself a great appetizer.
90 ml Vodka
10 ml Noilly Prat
Add both ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker, shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain and fine-strain into a pre-chilled Martiniglass. Garnish with an olive or a lemon twist.
Recently I took part in a cocktail competition. Ketel One, a vodka crafted by the famous Nolet Distilleries, challenged 45 bartenders from Holland, United Kingdom and Israel to create new cocktails inspired by their vodka. Three teams competed in three different categories to decide which country would take the trophy home. In the category “A classic with a twist” it was my task to create a twist on the Vodka Martini.
To me the vodka martini has always been the start of a good dinner. I know exactly how I like mine, and one or two of them at the bar before I go to my table is a ritual that has often proved to be a perfect start of the evening. The drink is beautiful as it is, so I wanted to give the new recipe just a subtle touch. That subtle touch was going to be tea. The base spirit, Ketel one, is characterized by hints of citrus and honey, so I chose a tea that would match those specific notes. The Seasonal Flush from the Uva Highlands, hand-picked in the morning of the 9th of August 2011, is a complex rare tea with citrus and grassy notes that match the notes in the vodka perfectly. After a three minute brew you get a spectacular tea. But instead of using the infusion, I was going to use the infused leaves and drink the tea myself. I filled a fine-strainer with the infused leaves, and after creating the cocktail as described below I strained it through the fine-strainer into the glass. The result was a very elegant twist with a smooth balance between tea, vodka, bitters and vermouth. Since the Seasonal Flush is a rare tea I can recommend Dilmah’s Earl Grey as a good alternative.
80 ml Ketel One Vodka
15 ml Noilly Prat
3 dashes of orange bitters
infused tea leaves
zest of orange
Fill a mixer glass with ice, add the Noilly Prat and stir for 30 seconds. Strain the mixer glass and add some extra ice cubes. Add the bitters and the vodka and stir for 30 seconds. Fill a fine-strainer with the infused tea leaves and strain the drink through the fine-strainer into a pre-chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange zest.
After 5 hours, 3 categories, 45 cocktails and an unknown number vodka shots the team from the U.K. took home the trophy. Watching all these bartenders from different countries, cultures and bars work is a great source of inspiration. Everyone brings along their own products and techniques and bartenders are eager to learn get inspired by others. Many were pleasantly surprised about the way I use tea in cocktails and succeeded in inspiring other bartenders to look at tea in a different way. There’s great potential for tea in cocktails and it’s becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in competitions. Try the recipe yourself, or let your local bartender fix one for you, and get a little inspiration yourself. Cheers!