When it comes to Gin Martinis, most bartenders—and drinkers—subscribe to the Outkast rule: The only thing cooler than being cool is being ice cold. Much like drinking a skunky beer left in a hot car or a wine that has been corked, it’s almost blasphemous to suggest a Martini should be served any way other than damn near icy.
But at Cure in New Orleans, co-owner Neal Bodenheimer believes Arctic temperatures aren’t the right way to approach such a nuanced drink. Instead, he thinks the Martini should be served only slightly chilled and—gasp!—closer to room temperature.
“You’ve got these accepted truths in the world of cocktails, and people never ask themselves why,” says Bodenheimer. “You sometimes have to fight against that and ask, ‘What do I think will actually make the best drink?’”
Inspired by ongoing discussions with fellow bartenders about serving room-temperature Manhattans and wine expert friends about how to better appreciate fortified wines (like vermouth) in cocktails, Bodenheimer discovered he prefers his Martini to be a warmer exploration of the give-and-take between vermouth and gin, not simply a glug of gussied-up cold gin.
“Martinis that aren’t super boozy, like one with fortified wine in it, shouldn’t be extra, extra cold if you really want to taste all the nuance in the glass,” he says. For those interested in tinkering with and truly tasting how cocktail ingredients play against one another, the room-temperature Martini is your new, drinkable chemistry experiment.
“The cool thing about Martinis is that you have so many options for fortified wines now and unique gins that you can play with, putting together different botanicals and seeing what you get,” says Bodenheimer. “There are some really creative pairings out there.”
While Bodenheimer’s go-to for a Martini tends to be a 50/50 split of Fords gin and Yzaguirre dry vermouth with a splash of chilled water and a couple of dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6, there are three other variations on the room-temp Martini he has found to be quite, uh, chill.