How do you know if your gin is cold enough for a martini?
The simple answer is this: it has to be freezing.
If, as per previous instructions, you have kept your gin and glasses in the freezer for several hours before martini time, you should easily pass this test.
I think the shaking method only remains popular because of the visual element of the preparation, rather than the quality of the finished drink.
Also note that some martinis specifically require the drink to be shaken – the Espresso martini for example.
If your gin/vodka has been in the freezer for at least 6-8 hours (preferably overnight) take the bottle out and stand it upright for a few seconds. A light frost should appear across the glass as it comes into contact with the room temperature air.
It should melt within a few moments (if it’s very well frozen it can take a minute or two and leave a very reassuring puddle) but so long as you actually feel the frost scrape off the side of the bottle, the gin or vodka is cold enough.
Once the martini is poured, the glass and liquid within it should be so cold that a dusting of frost, or even a thin layer of ice forms around the outside of the glass – even with the added heat of Tabasco sauce as above.
At the time of pouring, your martini should be at least minus 10 degrees Centigrade (14 degrees Fahrenheit). Mine at home tend to be around 15-16 degrees Centigrade (3-5 degrees Centigrade).
Some people call for it to be warmer, but trust me, for that first sip, you want it nice and chilly. If you want to really taste the botanicals in the drink, you will get plenty of time over the following 30-40 minutes.
I am told that the fingernail test originated in Russia as a means of judging whether or not vodka was sufficiently cold enough to drink neat. I will not take a political stance on this, and the procedure is just as valid in Ukraine, Finland, Canada or anywhere with a freezer.
Either way, have a go at keeping your gin or vodka in the freezer permanently, so you can enjoy the frosty beauty of an easily-prepared martini at home. Don’t forget to read the quick-fire guide to making them here.