Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Martini Fit for a Spring

Spring might just be here to stay this time, you guys (she said, jinxing it).

At least I certainly hope so since I've been spending the majority of the last week turning over and fencing my garden.  We're not big drinkers at our house -- Doc doesn't drink at all -- but after putting up 100 feet of fence and wire I had sunshine and relaxation on my mind.

I'm sure all my family are now hanging their heads in shame that I've admitted I mix martinis at home, but there ya have it.  I thought it was high time I shared a drink recipe with you.

At any rate, the combination of weekend tiredness and spring in the air took me down this road.  The title picture says "raspberry mint," but I've also enjoyed this with strawberries and basil.  Feel free to get creative.

Speaking of creative, I thought I'd try swapping up the format by putting the quickie version of the recipe at the top and then going into detail at the bottom.  That way folks in a hurry don't have to scroll through too much to get where they're going.  Let me know if you hate it this way.

Spring Martini

Total time:  5 minutes, not counting time to chill serving glass or make simple syrup.
Credits:  Hendrick's & St. Germain are a fairly popular combination, as seen here and here (just as examples).  The idea of adding fruit came from a delightful mixed drink called a cherub's cup that features Hendrick's, St. Germain, strawberries, and pink champagne.


  • 3 fresh raspberries (can sub: 2 small fresh strawberries)
  • 3 fresh mint leaves (can sub: 3 fresh basil leaves)
  • 2 small sprigs cilantro (optional, can omit)
  • 1 oz. (= 2 TBS) simple syrup
    • note: simple syrup made with palm sugar is especially good in this, though on the sweet side
  • 1 oz (= 2 TBS) St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 oz (= 0.25 cup) Hendrick's gin
  • 1 slice cucumber for garnish
  • you will also need:  ice, pestle or spoon, shaker or sturdy cup, fine-mesh sieve, cold serving glass


  1. Muddle berries and herbs with simple syrup at the bottom of your shaker.
  2. Add St. Germain and Hendrick's.
  3. Add ice and place top securely on shaker.
  4. Shake well over ice (1-2 minutes).
  5. Strain into cold serving glass.
  6. Garnish with cucumber (or an extra raspberry wrapped in mint, if desired).

Note:  For a weaker drink, top with seltzer and serve over ice.

Okay, now we can get into the details for anyone who wants them.

First you'll want to gather up your ingredients.  Don't worry if cilantro's not your thing.  It's pretty polarizing and I understand if you'd prefer to omit it.

You might wonder why I specified Hendrick's.  If you haven't tried it, go for it.  Unlike most gins Hendrick's is best complimented by cucumber rather than lime.  It's herby and flowery compared to other gins.  I think that makes it a good choice for spring drinks.  It also goes superbly with St. Germain, which is an elderflower liqueur.  (Trivia:  liquors are stronger and are typically made from grains and starches, whereas liqueurs are weaker, sweeter, and often made from flowers and fruits.  Neat, huh?)

Don't worry if you don't have to use a fancy bar shaker for this.  In fact, I've lost the top half of my shaker since I use it maybe once every two years.  To be completely honest, when I was playing around with flavors and proportions (in very, very small batches, mind you) I just used a plastic cup that I knew would be able to handle a little abuse.  Delicate glasses aren't recommended for muddling or shaking because they could break.  There's no shame in using plastic cups here, is my point, so don't think you have to get fancy.

Put your berries and herbs into the bottom of your shaker (or plastic cup):

And add in 1 oz. of simple syrup.  If you make mixed drinks frequently enough that you already know what that means, feel free to jump ahead.  For everyone else:  drink recipes are often expressed in ounces (measured with a special hourglass-shaped cup called a "jigger") rather than spoons or cups.  Happily, though, 1 oz. is also equal to 2 tablespoons.  So you're not out of luck if you don't have a jigger.

Simple syrup is just that:  the simplest kind of syrup you can make.  It's 1:1 sugar & water.  You can buy it most places that sell mixing supplies, but it's also very easy to make at home, as seen here or here.  Boil the water, add the sugar, dissolve it, and let it cool.  I used simple syrup that I made with palm sugar just because I like a little extra sweetness.  Use whatever you've got, no need to get fancy-pantsy.  The only reason I mention it in case you were inclined to panic about why I'm using brown simple syrup when normally it's clear.

Okay, so the herbs, berries, and sugar water are in your durable cup.  Next you're going to want to crush all these things together into a kind of mess.  Not a puree, a mess.  This is called muddling (as in, "today I feel all muddled").

Neatness is not the point.  The point is to crush up your herbs & fruits, thereby infusing the sugar water with their flavors.  Takes about a minute or so.  You can use anything you like for this: a pestle (as seen above), the back of a spoon, a potato masher... whatever.  Just squish things around for a while.

See?  Messy.

Order doesn't really matter, but either way you need to add in 1 oz. (or 2 tablespoons, if you prefer to think of it that way) of the St. Germain:

And 2 ounces of gin.  Two ounces is equal to four tablespoons or, because measurements are funky this way, one quarter-cup.

You'll now have a liquidy mess:

Which, if you didn't mind your martinis chewy, you could drink.  Stay tuned, though, we're going to make it much more presentable.

Pro tip:  the trick to a great martini is to get it very, very cold.  This is why our man James Bond knows the best martinis are shaken, not stirred.  Specifically, they are shaken over ice to cool them more rapidly and completely.  Never trust a bartender who just pours liquor into a martini glass and stirs it, my friends.

In order to do that, we first need to add ice to the cup (just a small handful of cubes will do):

And then you need to put a top on it.  If you're using a bar shaker, you can use the top that came with it.  If you've either lost the top or are using a cup, place another, smaller cup on top.  The top cup has to be small enough to fit inside the mixing cup, but large enough to prevent spills.  Ideally you'd use another plastic cup here, though I've done what many bartenders in a hurry do, which is to use a pint glass.  Beware:  this isn't the best idea.  I've broken pint glasses this way by creating too tight a seal or shaking too hard.  Personally I'd rather have a loose seal and a little dribble than a stuck or shattered glass.

Always shake over the sink, guys.  That's just good sense.

A minute or two is enough to flash-chill your drink, and that's really all we're going for here other than mixing up the liquids.  And no need to hold it over your shoulder or hold it sideways like you see in the movies.  Gentle will still get the job done.

Part of serving a really great martini is to use a chilled glass.  5-10 minutes in the freezer does the trick I've found.  I just put the glass in before I gather my ingredients and by the time I've got everything shaken up it's just about set.

This next step is key.  Pour the drink through a fine-mesh strainer to serve.  Otherwise your guests will be picking raspberry seeds out of their teeth.

It really makes a big difference, as you can see:

On the left:  floss city.  On the right: a gorgeous, debris-free drink.

After that you can either drink it straight away or you can garnish it.  One way to garnish is to use a cucumber.  Cut a tiny slit just at the edge of a cucumber slice:

And very gently position it over the edge of the glass.  Either as an alternative or as an addition, you could float a little mint on top:

Or even thread a raspberry and some mint onto a swizzle stick or drink umbrella.  I showed one example here with a toothpick, since that's all I had on hand:

But that's it!  As mentioned in the quickie directions you could alternatively serve this in a highball glass with ice and a generous splash of seltzer for a weaker drink.  Totally up to you!

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