Now that one major holiday is in our rearview with another soon on the horizon, this becomes the time where families start breaking out drinks for the season. While the sturdy and stiff rye whiskey and scotch drinks will have their shine alongside coquito and egg nog, this Pine-Cran Martini could shine along in that mix too.
If there is a similar recipe to this drink available, call it happenstance as I made this up on the spot. One of the joys of home bartending is that you can learn on the job somewhat affordably and learn to find taste combinations that work. In our mind, the triple sec’s sweetness and the vermouth’s dryness would balance themselves out.
Martinis are tricky because people rarely drink it in its classic style, opting instead to go with vodka over the proper gin usage. Vodka gets a bad rap for being a so-called “tofu of spirits” (as James Lee of The Bitter Bar once said in an interview) because it largely takes on the flavor of what’s added to it and doesn’t add further complexity. There are vodka brands that claim otherwise, and we’ll put that theory to the test in the near future.
Gin, however, with its botanicals and those herbal, spicy aromas, turns a martini into a dance of flavor on its own and is a versatile spirit when one is adventurous or curious.
Over the holidays, we made two versions of this martini. The vodka version was made with a lightly sweetened, all-fruit juice cranberry juice. The other, pictured below, used Ocean Spray’s 100% Cranberry Pineapple blend. Shockingly enough, this was far tastier, although there was some worry if it’d all work together. It truly could be a year-round drink, and it’s extremely easy to make.
1.5 oz Vodka or London Dry Gin
.5 oz of Triple Sec (We used Cointreau)
.5 oz of dry vermouth (We used Noilly Prat)
.5 to 1.5. oz of pineapple cranberry juice
Combine all the ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Cover. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Pour into a chilled martini glass. Use dried sweetened cranberries as an optional garnish.
One completed, it should look something like this…
This might not be better than a classic martini or any of its companion drinks that are served up. However, the drink is refreshing, approachable, and might even sway a gin critic or two.
If made with vodka, it will be even more agreeable to most palettes. If you want to go all the way and use an unsweetened 100% cranberry juice, we’d suggest a bar spoon of simple syrup to tamp down some of the tartness.
As always, sip safely and surely, friends.