The Solution Is Dilution – An Experiment with Junipero Gin
We partnered with Junipero Gin to get nerdy with the Dry Martini. Whether you’ve made a million Dry Martinis or you’re preparing to make your first one, the information from this experiment will help ensure you always make the Dry Martini at its most decadent and delicious best.
We will be looking at how to make the perfect Martini every time, not some of the time. By better understanding the importance of dilution, the nuances of different ratios and ingredients, and how timing affects it all.
Dry Martinis start at different strengths
The Dry Martini is possibly the most famous cocktail of all time, and at first glance it’s a simple creature. However, it’s also a recipe with an almost unlimited number of potential combinations. For this reason, to consistently make the Dry Martini at its best, you need to be tuned into the impacts that these variations have.
What does this mean? Importantly, the ratio of Vermouth to Gin in a Dry Martini recipe not only affects how ‘Dry’ a Martini is. It also influences the starting strength, known as ABV (Alcohol By Volume), of the ingredients in your Dry Martini.
[If you want to better understand the differences between ‘Wet’ and ‘Dry’ Martinis, read ‘The Fundamentals of the Dry Martini’ first].
To make your Dry Martini, from ‘Extra Dry’ to ‘Fifty-Fifty’ perfect every time, you need to understand the nuances of both ABV and dilution. For example, a ‘Fifty-Fifty’ style Dry Martini, which uses equal parts Gin and Vermouth, has a LOWER starting ABV than a very DRY Martini.
Vermouth is much lower in alcohol strength (ABV) than Gin. Therefore a Dry Martini recipe that has a much higher ratio of Vermouth, like the Fifty-Fifty, will start at a lower alcohol strength (ABV) than a very Dry style of Dry Martini that only has a splash or rinse of Vermouth.
That’s all pretty simple to understand, but what does it mean when you come to mix a Dry Martini? Well, there’s a magical point you need to find when you make a Dry Martini. The point when just the right amount of water (from ice-melt) has been added to the combination of Gin and Vermouth. This water is key to unlock the flavours and aromas carried by the alcohol in the Gin and Vermouth. Releasing all the aromatics from the ingredients onto both the nose and the palate, while also delivering a Dry Martini that’s smooth and easy to drink.
Therefore, when mixing Dry Martinis that start at a LOWER ABV, like the Fifty-Fifty, they’ll need LESS water added to them to reach that perfect point of dilution, compared to the higher ABV mix of a very ‘Dry’ Dry Martini.
Secondly, your choice of ingredients will also have an impact on this starting alcoholic strength. While Vermouths and fortified wines are relatively similar in alcoholic strength, Gins vary to far greater degree.
I Like Big Gins
Junipero is an incredibly smooth Gin that’s bottled at an impressive 49.3% ABV or 98.6 proof. Every drop of that alcohol carries essential oils packed with flavour, straight from the still to glass.
The alcohol is where virtually all the flavours of a Gin are carried. Therefore, the more alcohol in the bottle, the more flavour it brings to the drinker. If you want to get the most out of a big, flavourful Gin that’s rich in essential oils, then it’s vital for you to understand the importance and impact of dilution. With great power comes great responsibility!
What Makes a Dry Martini
“Smooth and easy to drink”.
You may have spotted we wrote that just a short time ago. You may have also raised an eyebrow as you read it, but it’s true! The Dry Martini may be a short, stiff and dry drink, but drinking one should not be a test of how brave you are. It should be a celebration of the flavours of great Gin and fresh Vermouth.
What the Martini should NOT be, is aggressively ‘hot’ with alcohol and difficult to drink. Too many people get put off the Martini because their first ever sip rips off the roof of their mouth. They think, “not for me thanks!” and that’s the first and last time they order a Dry Martini. We say, “NO MORE!”, the Dry Martini should be for anyone to enjoy.
Looking for what makes a Martini Dry?
Making a Martini is about two things, making the ingredients cold and adding the perfect amount of water from ice-melt. You can make them many ways but stirring with ice gives you the greatest control. It allows you to sample the drink as you stir, ensuring you add the perfect amount of water to unlock all the flavors of your Dry Martini.
Hopefully all this makes sense, but to back these theories up, we decided we needed to record some data to illustrate this point, and better guide your Dry Martini making journey.
Is there one perfect length of time to stir all Dry Martinis for? Do high ABV gins need any special consideration when making a Dry Martini? Does temperature play a role in how dilution is added to a Dry Martini?
Before we look at that data, let’s look at the key parameters of the experiments we ran:
- We used Dry Vermouth and Junipero Gin to make multiples of Dry Martinis at three different ratios – 10:1 (aka Extra/Bone Dry) 2:1 and 1:1 (aka a Fifty-Fifty).
- We used the same number and size of ice blocks straight from the freezer for every Dry Martini we made.
- Ingredients were stirred together with the ice for ten second intervals.
- At each interval, the ingredients were strained into a glass, weighed and the temperature recorded.
- Before the ingredients were poured back into the mixing jug, it was emptied of any water from ice-melt, then the stirring process was repeated.
- Weights were adjusted for the lighter weight of alcohol than water.
How strong are Dry Martinis to start with?
The initial ABV of your Dry Martini depends on the ratio of Gin and Vermouth you start with.
Therefore – the drier the Martini, the higher the ABV the more water that needs to be added to get to the perfect point of dilution where the Martini’s at its best!
How to make a Dry Martini
How long does it take to get to the perfect point of dilution?
The drier the Martini, the more water that’s needed to get the ingredients to the perfect point of dilution where the Martini’s at its best.
Dry Martini Ratios like the Fifty-Fifty start at a lower ABV which means they need less water and therefore need to be stirred for a lot less time.
On the flipside, adding more water takes a lot more time.
The first period of stirring, while the ingredients are warmer, adds water from ice-melt more quickly. This ice-cold water also helps to rapidly cool the mixture.
As the mixture gets colder the rate of dilution slows significantly, vastly increasing stir times for drier style Dry Martinis.
(NB – These times would not apply across directly in the real world as the process of stirring was stopped every ten seconds to take key measurements.)
Temperature dictates the rate of ice-melt!
Drop in temperature of mixture dictates speed of ice melt and therefore predicts the speed at which the ABV drops.
This is why the curves of decreasing ABV, and Temperature look very similar.
What Makes a Dry Martini?
The SOLUTION is DILUTION
1. No matter your opinion on what the perfect ABV for a Martini should be, the evidence is clear. Stir times are not uniform for all recipes.
2. There are great rewards for using a delicious a high strength Gin such as Junipero. Yet proper attention must be given, to ensure the right amount of dilution is added to unlock all its flavors and make the most of its higher strength.
Higher ABV Gins need considerably longer stir times than lower ABV Gins. We HIGHLY recommend adding a splash of filtered water to help reduce stir times of high ABV Gins like Junipero, especially when making Dry Martinis on the drier end of the spectrum.
3. If you stir Martinis with Gin from the freezer, you miss out on that initial fast rate of ice melt. Which you get when the ice is introduced to a room temperature Gin in a mixing jug. This simply makes stir times much longer, and only makes sense when making a Fifty-Fifty which needs a very short stir time.
Martinis aren’t made in labs!
Martinis are made in bars and homes with different ice, ratios, fortified wines, equipment…
To get the best out of both Junipero Gin and the Dry Martini, these differences matter and must be considered.
Due to these variables, you must also trust your palate to guide your decisions and produce the best results every time!
Never serve a Dry Martini simply because you think ‘it must be ready by now’! Trust the process, trust the data and trust your palate.
As always, don’t forget to show us what you made by tagging us!
@Candra_Drinks #MakeBetterDrinks #CandraDrinks