As a novice bartender I find that martini etiquette can be quite confusing, perhaps because the traditional martini and the present-day fad are different. I understand not shaking clear martinis, and I also do not add vermouth to vodka. I suppose I would like to hear your take on what to shake, and how to interpret customers. Also, do you shake Manhattans or stir them? From your article I was not sure of your take on them…
The rule is that clear drinks should never be shaken – the thinking here is that since a clear drink is made from such delicate ingredients (traditionally aromatic liquors such as gins, fortified wines such as vermouths, aromatic bitters, etc.), the additional water that comes from shaking a drink would be an unwelcome component. And that definitely goes for the Manhattan as well.
I’m sure you know that using a chilled glass is going to keep the drink colder for longer (there’s nothing quite like pouring a cold drink in a warm glass), but the choice of container you use to mix the drink is just as important. Make sure to use a metal cocktail shaker rather than a glass, as metal is a better conductor of heat than glass is, and therefore draws heats from its surface and chills your drink better. Silver will get a drink colder than stainless steel will, and glass just acts as an insulator. The bummer is that silver shakers are difficult to come by these days.
As an aside, please note that it’s not possible to “bruise” gin. This is just a bullshit myth perpetuated by Martini “connoisseurs” who want to impress you with their “knowledge” and “sophistication”. It’s a meaningless term, trust me. However, they’re right about not shaking a martini – they just don’t get why.
As far as proportions are concerned, I personally love the flavor of vermouth. I know that’s not really a popular sentiment these days, but I’ve found that most martini drinkers have confused a hatred of vermouth for sophistication. Vermouth is a wonderful thing (sweet vermouth: oh-my-god), especially when we’re talking about high-quality vermouths. I tend to make my Martinis with less vermouth than I do my Manhattans: 4-to-1 gin to vermouth for a Martini, and 3-to-1 vermouth to bourbon/rye for a Manhattan.
It is impossible to guess a customer’s preference for gin versus vodka, vermouth versus none, bitters versus none, etc., so I recommend asking what your customer wants in their cocktail to ensure you give them the exact drink they’re looking for.
Even if it is a shaken vodka “martini” with no vermouth.