Last week Maggy and I were in California working on our 2014 Big Potluck event. Coincidentally, the California Olive Committee was hosting a press trip. Since I was already out west, I decided to join their tour. In the coming weeks I’ll write more about what I learned, but I couldn’t wait to share this Black and Blue Martini with you.
Our California trip started with dinner at School House Restaurant and Tavern in Fresno. We’d heard we’d be starting the night with cocktails, but when I walked in, I only saw wine. I ordered a glass of white and started to sip when I saw someone with a martini glass in hand. I marched back to the counter to trade up.
It was there I spotted a dish of blue cheese-stuffed ripe black olives. Interesting, I thought. The only blue cheese-stuffed olives I’d ever enjoyed were the piquant greens ones. Though interesting, the combination of sharp olive and the aggressive cheese are strong. Waiting for my drink, I skewered one of the stuffed ripe black olives. Perfect, I thought. The milder ripe black olive was a much better home for the powerful cheese. I had just discovered my new martini olive.
The morning after I got home I picked up a can of colossal California ripe black olives at the store and stuffed them with blue cheese. That night I made martinis for Maggy, Andy, David, and me. We were all fans of the olives, but I wasn’t wild about my martini. Like the blue cheese-stuffed green olives, it was too potent.
Getting ready to develop the recipe, I did some research and discovered my problem. For years I’ve kept my Bombay Sapphire bottle in the freezer for gin and tonics. Keeping it cold means the gin and tonic stays potent longer. A martini is different. When you’re drinking essentially straight gin, you need to soften it.
Now I keep two bottles of gin—one in the freezer for gin and tonics, one at room temperature for martinis. For martinis I pour room temperature gin and a titch of dry vermouth into the ice-filled shaker. After several dramatic shakes, I sit it down. Like a good roast, the drink needs to rest a minute or so. During that brief moment, the ice melts ever so slightly, softening the drink.
I’ve got new blue cheese-stuffed ripe black olives, a new martini method, and it’s Friday night. TGIF!
- 6 colossal canned California ripe black olives
- 1 tablespoon blue cheese
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) Bombay Sapphire gin
- 4 teaspoons (1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon) dry vermouth
- Fill 2 martini glasses with icy water and set in freezer.
- Meanwhile, stuff the ripe black olives with cheese. (I found fingers worked best) and thread onto short skewers.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add gin and vermouth; shake to combine, several seconds.
- Set cocktail shaker down and let stand for a minute or so for ice to melt slightly.
- Dump water from martini glasses and pour a portion of the drink into each glass. Add olives and serve immediately.