Chris Amirault was aware that The Maybourne Bar needed a special Martini. Set in the lobby of The Maybourne Beverly Hills, the intimate cocktail bar opened late last year as the American sister of The Connaught Bar in London, a Martini mecca, which at the time ranked number one on the list of World’s 50 Best Bars.
“Trying to figure out how to even get in the same conversation as what Ago [Perrone], Giorgio [Bargiani], and Maura [Milia] do over there is a tall task,” says Amirault, referring to The Connaught’s power trio of bar leads.
Amirault was pondering how to distinguish his Martini. to the idea of replacing the drink’s standard dilution with something flavorful. After stirring, MartinisThey are, after all., 30% to 40% water. “Water is one of the most important aspects of a cocktail,” says Amirault. “And it’s often the most overlooked.”
Amirault settled on clarified cucumber juice to replace the water in The Maybourne Martini’s chilled batched version. To get nearly clear cucumber water, Amirault peels half the cucumber skin, juices the rest, separates the pulp from the liquid using clarifying agents, then spins the whole thing through a centrifuge. Combination with Sipsmith Gin or Dolin dry Vermouth. “It looks as if someone shook three ounces of Grey Goose,” says Amirault. “But once you taste it, it knocks you off your horse a bit.”
Amirault’s Martini counterintuitively and surreptitiously uses dilution to punch up flavor, and it’s the product of decades of industry innovation and a poster child of pandemic-era bar trends. And he’s not alone. Bartenders are becoming more creative with Martini dilutions. toHigh-tech clarification techniques, pioneered by Dave Arnold, are the key to the rise in freezers Martinis (starting with Salvatore Calabrese in the 1980s and popularized by The Nomad Bar), and the drinking public’s current Martini obsession—and that’s not toMention influence from toCocktails and the low- and no-ABV movement are a good idea.
Tomato water was first
Of course, Amirault isn’t the first bartender toMake a Martini by adding clarified lemon juice. Tomato-water MartinisThey have been around for many decades. More recently, in 2019, L.A.’s Thunderbolt opened with The Liquid Picnic, a combination of London dry gin, lemon and rosemary liqueurs, dry vermouth, clarified tomato water dilution, salt, and pepper.
Will Wyatt created the Doctor Angel Face that year for his newly-launched bar program at Mister Paradise. The Martini riff was made with verjus blanc and barley shochu. It also includes fino sherry and a 40% dilution kombu-infused tomato juice water. It was Wyatt’s first time working with tomato water, and he found that using it for dilution rather than incorporating it into a modifier delivered the intense tomato flavor he was looking for. The best thing about tomatoes is that they are so easy to prepare. toIt is clear that this is a boon in high volume bars.
Rethinking DilutionTo-Go Cocktails
Since the beginning, batched cocktails have been popular. They were a vital source of income for American bars, which sold cocktails during the pandemic. to go. Many first-time bartenders had toConsider how you would like to experience your drink at home.
“I started thinking about dilution differently at that moment,” says Takuma Wanatabe, the owner of Martiny’s in New York City, who produced a barley tea to dilute a brown-butter-corn Old Fashioned at now-shuttered Angel’s Share. “Our customers, of course, weren’t professionals, so we calculated the right amount of dilution so they could put it in the freezer and just pour.”
If he could control the dilution so accurately, why not add flavor to it?
When devising a toKala Ellis, Oak Nashville’s beverage director, found an easy way to make a 50/50 Highclere Martini. toYou can make a lemon twist with no guests toSpray the peel yourself. She rested lemon zest in water and then diluted the batched Martini with the citrusy water—a technique that would work with any citrus peel, she says. Ellis also started asking Oak’s kitchen crew toSave the water they used to rinse rice. “It adds a lot of weight and texture to a cocktail without drastically changing the flavor profile,” says Ellis, who’s used rice water in MartinisOld Fashioneds
Dirty Martinis, she doesn’t bother filtering the rice water—the batched drink just needs a little shake to agitate the particles—and if she wants a crystal-clear cocktail, Ellis passes the rice water through a coffee filter, which removes some but not all of the body.
These kinds of batched drinks will last the pandemic and the creative dilution that they bring with them, says Justin Lavenue, bartender at The Roosevelt Room, Austin. “You get greater consistency with batching; there are no bartender variants,”He said. “And if you have the storage space to keep things chilled, it speeds up service.”
Lavenue used coconut water and aloe vera gel to dilute his Martini realm. He loves the nutty taste of the latter. “Coconut water is a great way to enhance so many vermouths that have an almondy-walnut finish, and it pairs wonderfully with sherry,”He said. He suggests that you test the sugar levels (or Brix) in coconut water using an electronic refractometer. Then adjust the vermouth or sherry types or ratios accordingly.
DilutionInspired by N/A bartending and spirits
Lavenue first experimented with flavored dilution more than a decade ago, when bartenders started dropping ice cubes made of teas, juices, and other infusions into whiskies and stirred cocktails—an interesting but inconsistent technique. That’s when he got his start. to think more about potent dilutions as he developed nonalcoholic drinks like Roosevelt Room’s long-running N/Artini, a Martini batched with Seedlip Spice 94, loads of botanicals, verjus blanc, a splash of castelvetrano olive brine, clarified pear juice, and juniper tea.
Too much straight H20 doesn’t do any favors for nonalcoholic drinks. “Water opens up the nuance in a whiskey and brightens up and opens a gin Martini. But with spirit-free, if you’re adding to this beautiful spiced tea base, you’re diluting that,”Julia Momose is a pioneering N/A beverage-maker and owner of Kumiko Chicago. “With spirit-frees, you don’t need much water.”
Momose’s N/A techniques have also influenced boozy bartending, and Wanatabe credits Momose’s cocktail book, The Way of the Cocktail, for inspiring the latest crop of drinks diluted with teas and infusions.
Nashville bartender Jon Howard’s dilution is also heavily influenced by advancements in the N/A movement. One day, Jon Howard was looking at a Seedlip Grove container and wondered what it tasted like when diluted in a classic Martini. “It was incredible,”Howard is the bar director at Audrey June The Continental and The Vesper Club. “With the breadth of N/A spirits I can now utilize, I have a way to take Martinis in directions I never could by using standard dilution practices.”
Howard has developed MartinisDilute with Wilderton Earthen or Bax Botanics Sea Buckthorn. He worked the latter into a wet Martini cousin at June, combining it with Ford’s gin, Dolin dry vermouth, and a frozen sea buckthorn.
He’s currently serving a batched Martini with 1 ounce of Pentire Adrift, 2 ounces of gin, and 1 ounce of dry vermouth, held in a freezer, poured into a chilled coupe, and garnished with seaweed for an “oceanic, almost Dirty Martini-style drink,”He noted that an ounce a N/A spirit containing a two-liter of alcohol would yield approximately 2.2 oz.to-one gram of Gin toVermouth is good for 90% of the time. However, if you freeze vermouth with a lower alcohol or 50/50 Martini, it will become solid.
Mid-range price toNonalcoholic spirits, which are in the high $30 range, are significantly more expensive than water. Howard however, loves them for their consistency and visual clarity (ideal). MartinisIt is also low in labor costs. Even though he is equipped with all the necessary tools, he still has to use them. to make distillations and infusions in-house, he’d rather be spending his R&D efforts elsewhere. “Time is an expense you can’t get back,”He said.
It’s impossible to know how many bartenders are tinkering with flavored Martini dilutions, but it’s safe to say that it’s a relatively new phenomenon and one ripe for exploration. Wyatt has been thinking of creating a clarified snappea Martini in spring. He’s worked with buckwheat, pu-erh, and shiitake teas, and loves the idea of incorporating into a drink the juice from salt-pressed cucumbers, one of his favorite Szechuan dishes.
“It’s something I want to play around with a bit more,”Wyatt. “But I choose my prep battles wisely.”
Other bartenders recommended celery and tomatillo water, while Ellis suggested that cold-water infusions made with ginger, yellow squash, cucumber, and other ingredients could be good. Martinis.
Wanatabe is looking for his personal use to push a 50/50 Martini’s ABV even lower, dialing down full-strength gin by half or even three-quarters and then diluting with a N/A gin. “I’m a low-ABV person, but I still want to drink Martinis with cool flavors,”He said.
A decade ago in L.A., Amirault says, cucumber Martinis made with Hendrick’s and St. Germain had a moment; his Martini at The Maybourne Bar is, in part, an ode to that drink, even if the original wasn’t particularly balanced or good. He can also imagine taking the juice from high quality canned Thai lychees to use. to dilute and update the ’90s-era lychee Martini.
“When it comes to innovation, 99.9% of stuff has already been done,” says Amirault. “It’s hard to come up with new techniques. But if you’re somebody who comes up with 100 cocktails for multiple outlets a year, you have to start looking at drinks in a vuja dé style. It’s the idea of seeing the same thing over and over and over again but still being inspired by it. That’s been the most helpful thing for me, looking at something I see all the time with a fresh perspective.”
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