Are Martinis Better at Room Temperature?

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(image: Tim Nusog)

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?’”

Cure

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.

Neal Bodenheimer, far right

“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.

Get the recipes:
Room Temperature Martini No. 1
Room Temperature Martini No. 2
Room Temperature Martini No. 3

Series & Type: Cocktails
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  8 Comments.

Discussion

  • subina posted 2 months ago

    Not so sure about this one. I know of no one who enjoys a less than ice cold martini, including me. In fact, I and my fellow imbibers always ask for a glass of cubes on the side. When my martini warms up, I need to drop a cube in there. They are tough to drink when they warm up. Martinis are the only cocktail in which I might have to add a cube.

  • junkvote.efb11e posted 2 months ago

    Of course depends how fast you drink your drinks?????

    Any drink or food too cold or too hot you lose flavor. I think if liquor is colder it will burn less. If you try a shot of Rum, Whiskey etc. room temp you will taste it more and burn/warm more and will be harder to drink.

    So my thought is cold/chilled with high quality liquor and as you drink it warms up and you get more flavor near the end.

  • tfagerskog posted 2 months ago

    I suppose gin closer to room temp might be slightly more desirable as the flavors release better like white wine when not icy cold but a vodka martini needs to be very cold (26 deg F).

  • nerdychef posted 2 months ago

    One more thing, do you add water to your room-temp martini. In my experience, dilution of the cocktail is critical.

  • nerdychef posted 2 months ago

    With respect to Mr. Bodenheimer, I take exception to his idea of serving a martini at room temp. He is completely correct, that the nuances of the gin, vermouth, and bitters can be best expressed at higher temperatures. However, the best guest experience doesn't necessarily lean in that direction.

    It's really nothing more than a difference in philosophy. While cold mutes flavors, the guest (generally) enjoys a cold drink, thus resulting in a better guest experience.

    That said, if/when I visit Cure, I'll be having a room-temp martini with a big smile on my face. Also, re-introducing orange bitters into the standard martini formula is where we need to be. So delish.

  • g8trdave posted 2 months ago

    I fully agree, and it comes down to many of the great flavors being volatile, so when you chill it, you suppress their volatility.

  • Dale Degroff posted 2 months ago

    Oh no..! I don't want to give up the 13 to 15 icy cold sips... stirring is the key to the flavors ... the dillition opens the spirit releases the flavor nuances and each ice cold sip is better than the last... cheese yes... martinis no

  • cshawnmcdonaldgmailcom77377976 posted 2 months ago

    Okay, fine. You let your martini sit on the bar for a while and drink it warm.

    The rest of us sane people will continue to imbibe our martinis the way God intended: Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.


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