Today we’re entering the Freezer Door Cocktail dimension with the Freezer Martini or Freezer Door Martini depending upon your preferred nomenclature. They’re the same thing: a pre-batched drink ready to go straight from your freezer. Some of the world’s best bars have been doing this a long time, ceremony and tradition be damned. The product is more consistent than when individually stirred. It’s also colder than one stirred over ice, which creates a pleasant increase in viscosity. Follow along and your home bar game will reach new heights.
The martini is particularly well suited for bulk preparation and freezer storage. It doesn’t contain juices and won’t freeze like more dilute cocktails. it’s a near-perfect solvent for whatever you’re eating and provides wonderful material for a cocktail lesson just as important as the discussion we had on Mr. Potato Head’s birthday.
What we describe here for the Freezer Martini can be applied to many cocktails, but would advise sticking to those that don’t include juice and will be served up, without ice. Like the Freezer Door Martini, appropriate drinks prepared this way are convenient and consistent. It’s no wonder many top bars use them in house.
What makes a good Freezer Martini?
At the end of the day what counts is building in the proper dilution. People may argue all day about what separates a lousy martini from the sublime. But those are generally debates about the gin to vermouth ratio. You might like a martini at 2:1 gin to vermouth, or the 15:1 version that became Ernest Hemingway’s favorite. You might even adopt Winston Churchill’s habit of glancing at a bottle of vermouth across the room.
In the end, the difference between a dumpster fire and a perfect martini comes from stirring the drink over ice to chill and dilute it correctly. That’s the classic process when mixing them one by one and this dilution matters more for a martini than almost any other drink. When it’s right the botanical elements of the gin and vermouth magically appear, neither drowned out by alcoholic heat nor lost in a soupy mess. But that’s not so simple, it takes a skilled, practiced bartender.
Here we address the problem by mixing in bulk. We know how much water has been added, bottle it up and put it in the freezer. Suddenly you are able, on demand, to pour a perfect elixir. What dilution makes a perfect cocktail? When the water is in the range of 15-20% of the total mix.
How to make the Freezer Door Martini
We consider London dry gin and dry vermouth to be ordinary household items. But for this example we’re using Ford’s Gin in part for the bottle it comes in. Seeing themselves as “the bartender’s gin” they put volume markers on the side of the bottle and a ring marking the whole 750ml on the neck. This makes quick end-of-shift inventory easy for the professionals and helps us as well. It’s an excellent gin for martinis, and widely available.
Our Editorial Board recommends martinis at a 3:1 gin to vermouth ratio. That means if we mix ingredients in the proportion of 3:1:1 for gin, vermouth and filtered water the final mix is 20% added water. You can, of course, vary the gin to vermouth ratio to your own taste. But be forewarned: if you go long on gin you’ll probably want a bit more water. If you’re in the Audrey Saunders camp enjoying “Fitty-Fitty” equal parts gin and vermouth you had better cut back on the water. Gin-heavy situations can inch toward being too alcoholic. Vermouth-heavy versions will turn slushy in a cold freezer. Not that a martini slushy isn’t a good idea, probably popular with the kids, but it’s not the classic cocktail we’re seeking at the moment.
This 3:1:1 ratio also works well with the fact that a standard 750 ml liquor bottle is for practical purposes equal to 25 ounces. With the Ford’s Gin bottle it’s easy to illustrate the process, with steps labeled 1 to 3 as shown. The alternative, of course, is to simply use a measuring up and whatever bottle you have that’s convenient.
Freezer Door Cocktails in General
if your freezer is particularly cold you may start to find tendrils of ice dispersed through the bottle. No cause for panic, the situation can be handled easily. For a Freezer Martini one course of action is to add a bit more gin to the bottle. That will lower the freezing point of the mix. The alternative is to shake up the bottle and pour. Those bits of ice will quickly disappear in your glass.
Every freezer is going to be a bit different in terms of temperature, which will vary even from place to place within the compartment. Where you put the bottle may matter, but if ice tendrils become a problem it likely means you need to use a bit less water and/or a higher proof base spirit. The 3:1:1 Freezer Martini is close to the edge and we strongly recommend using a gin of 45% ABV or a bit higher.
Freezer cocktails, of course aren’t just for martinis. Care to have Manhattans waiting for you in your freezer? No problem. Simply mix the requisite ingredients, pour in a bottle and put in your freezer. As with the martini, finalizing the dilution that works well for you may involve a bit of tweaking since no two situations are identical. But if you like a cocktail ready to go you’ll find it worthwhile to explore freezer door cocktails.
Freezer Door Martini
- Measuring cup
- 15 oz Ford's Gin
- 5 oz Dry vermouth
- 5 oz Water
- Optional: Orange bitters
- No matter what bottle you're using you can simply measure gin, vermouth and water in the amounts shown with a measuring up and pour each into your bottle of choice. If you're using a Ford's Gin bottle there is no explicit 15 oz marking, but you'll be good if you pour gin as shown, to the middle of the gripping band indent on the bottle.
- From there simply fill to the 20 oz line with dry vermouth and follow that with a simple 5 oz fill of water to the total volume marker ring on the neck of the bottle. And take note: please don’t use tap water in this application. You really do want to find a bottle of very soft bottled (i.e. not mineral) water or distilled. Yes, it makes a difference.
- At this point you have the option of adding 6-7 dashes of orange bitters. Cap the bottle, invert gently several times to mix, and place in freezer.
- The remaining instructions should be familiar:
- Pour into pre-chilled Nick and Nora glass.
- Garnish with your choice of lemon twist, olive or even both if you’re feeling Dale DeGroff-ish. Of course if you crave Gibsons it’s a cocktail onion but then please omit the orange bitters above and add a short dash of celery bitters to each serving.