It wouldn't have been a successful Basel without a cocktail lesson in a bungalow penthouse at Miami's newest and hippest lodge, the Miami Beach Edition. While Ian Schrager is most known for his role as co-owner and co-founder of the iconic Studio 54, he's also responsible for pioneering the boutique and luxury hotel category. And the Edition marks his first return to the Magic City since his work at the Delano.
A smooth opening during the city's busiest week is no easy feat, but the Edition's went off smooth and without a glitch. One of the many events lined up was a martini making class hosted by leading London bartender and Absolut Elyx global brand ambassador Jack Hubbard, who was joined by local spirit aficionado Giovanny Gutierrez from Chat Chow TV. Gutierrez was coined with the task of bringing in a group of friends to spread the martini knowledge, and we were able to join in on the educational fun.
"The martini is the undisputed king of the cocktail," says Hubbard. But it wasn't always that way. Matter of fact, according to Hubbard, the first recipe for the dry martini included gin and was published circa 1903 in a small book called Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them. Then, in 1951 the vodka martini was coined the Kangaroo for "no reason in particular but probably cause it had a kick."
But it was a fictional character that blew the libation up. James Bond liked his martini shaken not stirred. There's another way to make a martini, however, and that is to throw it, which besides it's theatrical and visual appeal allows the alcohol to aerate. Basically you mix the drink by pouring its contents at arms length from one shaker to another whilst moving them away in opposite directions. "When you stir you chill and dilute, when you shake do both but also aerate. So throwing is the middle ground between shaking and stirring." If you're going to try this at home, make sure you've got plenty of Bounty and that you haven't had anything to drink prior to this.
Today, vodka martinis are the norm (partly because of the new popularity of the Mad Men era), but even so, all cocktails are subjective. "It's your call whether you want it dry or sweet," he says. For dry you'll want to go with Italian vermouth, while if it's a sweet tooth you've got opt for the French. Or as someone in our lesson did, you can use equal parts of both. "There are no real rules except to use a small number of ingredients with the highest quality possible," he says. "That is the key to creating the perfect martini."
For that, you might want to check out Absolut Elyx. "For me, this is the heart of Absolut." The handcrafted luxury vodka is manually distilled in a 1921 copper rectification from single estate wheat. From start to finish, the spirit it made in a 15-mile radius and has nothing added to round it off. The result is a smooth and velvety tasting vodka that you can swallow straight up without having a gag reflex.
"Elyx is the luxury side so we want to keep it organic and not flood the market with it." That's probably why you haven't seen the gorgeous Elyx bottle around very many places. "We don't want to be about the pretentious lifestyle either." And Edition, even with all its ritz and glamour, is aiming to cater to locals.
"We're trying to do the same as what we (Asbolut) did in 1979 with Andy Warhol and the crazy campaigns." The only difference is that they are involving the actual public. Hubbard gets to travel the world and impart his spirit knowledge. While you may have missed the martini cocktail lesson, you can make it at home with the recipe below if you're willing to drive up to Palm Beach to secure a bottle. That's the only place where Elyx is currently available for purchase. "We're not trying to do widespread distribution. It's not in our DNA."
There are some good news though. You can sip on Hubbard's Elyx cocktails all throughout the Edition, from Matador and the crystal lobby bar to Tropicale and even the Basement.
Absolut Elyx Martini
- 50 ml Absolut Elyx
- 5 ml dry vermouth
- lemon twist for garnish
- stemmed glass cocktail
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SHOW ME HOW
Measure the Absolut Elyx and dry vermouth into a mixing glass or tin. Fill with good quality ice and stir using your bar spoon until ice cold. Strain the drink with your julep strainer into a chilled stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha