Monday. The toughest day of the week. So we’re going to top them off for a while with martinis, Monday Martinis.
What is a Monday Martini? First, of all, it’s a martini. That means it is made with gin and vermouth. There won’t be any stories about perfect moonbeams, or waving a bottle of vermouth over a glass of gin. A good martini is made with gin and vermouth. There won’t be any flavored vodkas, either. Sure, you can dredge a cocktail glass in cocoa powder, add pureed strawberries and marshmallow vodka, and call it a martini, but you’d be wrong. And a bit of a weenie.
This time we’re starting with Edinburgh Gin’s Navy Strength Cannonball Gin. We reviewed it a couple of months ago:
Edinburgh Gin’s “Navy Strength Cannonball” gin clocks in over 114 proof and adds an extra kick in the pants from Szechuan pepper to go with double the juniper. Everything about this is big and aggressive, on the nose and on the palate. Juniper and pepper aromas come up like a fist. On the palate, the pepper go everywhere -around the mouth, on the lips, and up the sinuses. High alcohol, big juniper, and powerful peppers assure that this gin earns the name “Cannonball.” Lips and tongue tingle but the high proof burn is surprisingly under control. Not a classic, but extra points for being unique. Highly Recommended. 92 points.
The challenge with this big, aggressive gin was how to tame it. The tingle, the bite, and the lingering pepper burn need a counter-point to make a good martini. The answer was Dolin Blanc, a sweeter white vermouth. Like Riesling tames spicy Asian food, the Blanc tamed the pepper. This did not call for a more vegetal vermouth, or even a blend of vermouths, because the double juniper and Szechuan peppers had that department covered. Proportions were tough, and took a bit of fiddling.
A classic martini, and our starting point, is 3-1. That was too sweet. In a 5-1 ratio, the vermouth was overwhelmed. But 4-1 was the ticket, a bit of a surprise with a 114 proof gin, so be careful out there. What next? A spritz of lemon oil is the best way to finish a martini. (Forget the olives – if you want a snack hit the Popeye’s drive-through on the way home. We’re drinking here.) Lemon works, but lime works better. The lemon wrestled a little with the juniper, while the lime just wanted to cuddle.
4 parts Edinburgh Gin Navy Strength Cannonball Gin
1 part Dolin Blanc white vermouth
twist of lime
Chill a cocktail glass. While it gets cold, add ice to a mixing glass. Pour the gin over the ice, then add vermouth. Stir to chill. Strain and pour into cocktail glass. Twist the lime peel over the glass, letting the droplets of oil float on top. Don’t add the peel to the glass. Serve.
Soft juniper and white flowers bloomed on the palate, followed by spicy Szechuan peppers that erupt all around the mouth, then calm down almost instantly. The finish is long, with hot pepper and sweet white florals gently and slowly fading away together.