In the "call it what it is" category, the Reverse Martini at San Francisco’s now-shuttered Starlight Room pumps up the white vermouth alongside a short pour of locally-made vodka, distilled right up the road in Sonoma County. Michael Lee, a certified sommelier and Starlight Room’s former assistant director of food and beverage, calls it the perfect summer drink. “It will not make you feel sluggish while you dance the night away between the stars and cable cars,” he says.
If vermouth-forward Martini recipes feel antithetical to the everyday purist’s go-to ratio, that’s because it is—if you prefer yours à la Winston Churchill (“Glance at the vermouth bottle briefly while pouring the juniper distillate freely,” then steer clear of the Starlight Reverse Martini given its vodka “base“ and heavy pour of vermouth. But for those who appreciate all the nuance that a great vermouth has to offer, recipes such as this (and the classic 50/50 Martini, for example) are excellent templates for exploring the underrated world of aromatized wines.
One way to step up your vermouth game at home is to make your own proprietary blend using vermouths you already love. The reason? What one vermouth can’t do, two or more vermouths can (or so they say). Here’s the full recipe for the Starlight Reverse Martini in all its vermouth-heavy glory.
This recipe originally appeared as part of “Lighten Up with These 4 Riffs on the Reverse Vodka Martini.”