For many, a dry martini means ordering gin (or vodka) stirred with ice and no vermouth, which is essentially just spirits served up — clean and cold. This approach certainly alleviates the complication of finding the right balance between gin and vermouth, though the result is arguably not even a martini. The drink’s original incarnations of two parts gin and one part vermouth might startle drinkers today, and many bartenders lean toward their own balanced ratios of spirit to vermouth, anywhere from 4:1 to 8:1 and garnishing with a twist. Sadly, this much hoopla and tradition over a cocktail means that patrons are seldom keen on improvisation, though thankfully some bartenders still try.
Adding a bit of color and seasonality, when a guest asks for a martini at NYC’s Rouge Tomate in Chelsea, head bartender Cristian Molina often offers up his own variation that may taste like one at first but slowly evolves into something completely different. Probably what is most striking about the Climate Change cocktail is the visual effect of a bright-orange object on display in a clear, conical glass. That cube is Molina’s pre-frozen modifier of clementine juice, honey and pink peppercorns, which intentionally dilute into the drink and gradually add a citrusy sweetness to what was once a strong gin sipper.
Molina often looks at fruit or a fresh ingredient as the starting point of a cocktail, rather than just the spirit. Finding peak ingredients means that drinks like the Climate Change and others on the menu shift with what the restaurant’s farmers and suppliers can provide, which also means the cocktails exhibit both peak flavor and nutrients. For this martini, it starts out with what most martini drinkers desire: a strong punch of gin botanicals with just a hint of citrus overtones. From there, warming up to the idea of having fruit and a hint of natural sweetness in the glass is only a matter of time.
Climate Change Martini
Servings: 1 cocktail
3 ounces Neversink Spirits Gin
1 ounce chamomile tea
1 clementine ice cube*
For the clementine ice cube:
- Mix 30 ounces clementine juice and 2 ounces raw honey, and strain using a fine strainer.
- Using a 2-inch-by-2-inch ice-cube tray, pour juice and add 3 peppercorns in each ice cube.
- Freeze and store for later use.
- Add gin and chamomile tea to a mixing glass and add ice.
- Stir for 5 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass.
- Add clementine ice cube and serve.
Prep time: 2 minutes