The French Martini

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With the flavors of pineapple and raspberry, the French Martini is a stunning drink, with fruity flavors that appeal to many palates, especially those who are not particularly fond of alcohol.

While I probably should have started with a Martini, the true and old classic that has quite a bit of celebrity, I decided to start with a “French” Martini, which is a relatively new cocktail that originates in the 90s most probably from Paris (DeGroff 112).  This cocktail, according to Dale DeGroff, helped kick off the flavored “martini” craze which is so popular in the United States current bar scene (Ibid).  Lemon Drop Martinis, or Cosmopolitans.  These things are what people associate with the word “martini” now a days, when they are not necessarily a true martini.  I’ll discuss the true gin Martini next time.

The cocktail first appeared on the menu of the Keith McNally’s Pravda, which was a vodka-themed lounge which opened int he mid 90s (Ibid).  As such, it is quite often made with vodka, however, I personally choose to make it with gin, to give it an added kick of flavor and supplement the tastes rather than just providing an alcoholic bite that is found in vodka.  But outside of that, the vodka takes on its’ flavor alongside the fruity flavors of the Chambord and pineapple juice.  Both of these mask the flavor of the vodka, and blend well with one another to provide a somewhat tropical flavor; the finish is met with the taste of the pineapple juice, and a silky lingering thanks to the foam created from shaking the pineapple juice vigorously.  Like other “martinis,” which are so popular now a days, vodka is used and flavored with various other things in order to provide a specific flavor.  And the Cosmopolitan, is rather similar to the French Martini, is flavored with a liqueur and a few fruit juices.

While the martini doesn’t sound very French, one has to keep in mind the principle accent, Chambord.  Bottled in a holy hand grenade type object, Chambord is a raspberry liqueur that originates from France, and is not a “fermented mash of raspberries in the eau-de-vie family” (Ibid).  Eau-de-vie, or water of life, is a fruit brandy, reminiscent of aqua vitae, fermented and distilled.  Chambord is low proof, 16.5 percent alcohol by volume, and is a neutral grain spirit that fits in with Grand Marnier, cherry liqueur or other things (Ibid).  The liqueur was inspired by a historical raspberry liqueur that was produced in the Loire Valley during the17th century, and had been introduced to Louis XIV while he was visiting Château de Chambord (Chambord Online). However, it became popular during the 1980s and 90s alongside other “disco drinks” of that era, and was a sweetening agent utilized in drinks which during the time followed a formula of spirit supplemented with a sweet cordial (DeGroff 112).  Not only flavored with raspberries, the liqueur features “blackberries, Madagascar vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey and cognac” (Chambord Online).

There are many variations on the ratio of ingredients, including DeGroff’s 2 parts pineapple juice to 1 part vodka and 1 part Chambord.  This ratio is a lot higher than many others, which use a splash of both Chambord and Pineapple juice, or just a half an ounce of Chambord.  Personally, I experimented with the cocktail, and found that a ratio of 3-2-1 works rather well: three parts pineapple juice, unsweetened; two parts vodka, or sometimes gin depending on the palate of the person imbibing the cocktail; one part Chambord, since it adds a lot of flavor and depth in small amounts.  Regardless, the trick to the cocktail is to shake it vigorously to gather the foam that will garnish the top of the drink.  Such froth, like in a Clover Club, offsets the color, and provides a satin or silky taste on the tongue, enhancing the presentation of the drink, as well as the overall taste and feel of the cocktail.

The French Martini:

1 ounce vodka (or gin)
1/2 ounce Chambord
1 1/2 ounce pineapple juice, unsweetened

Combine ingredients in shaker tin.  Shake it vigorously until chilled.  Strain into a stemware glass.

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Chambord Liqueur.  “Chambord Online.”  Brown-Forman Corporation.  http://chambordonline.com/flash/flash.aspx (accessed February 26, 2010).

DeGroff, Dale. 2008. The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers.

Hamilton, William.  2004.  Shaken and Stirred: Through the Martini Glass and Other Drinking Adventures.  New York: HarperCollins Books.

O’Neil, Darcy.  Art of Drink.  September 16, 2006.  “French Martini.” ArtofDrink.com. http://www.artofdrink.com/2006/09/french-martini.php (accessed February 26, 2010).

Wikipedia contributors. “Chambord.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chambord_Liqueur_Royale_de_France (accessed February 26, 2010).