A perennial favorite among cocktail connoisseurs is the martini. It’s a classy, classic drink, steeped in tradition, elegance and celebrity. The most notable celebrity, of course, is James Bond, the sexy, savvy double agent who preferred his martinis strong, cold and shaken, never stirred. Bond’s favorite was the Vesper, made with three parts gin, one part vodka and a splash of Lillet, a French aperitif wine, topped with a twist of lemon—a luxe cocktail for an austere agent.
The secret behind making a martini suitable for 007’s standards has been debated for decades. Traditionalists insist a proper martini should be made with gin, but modern times ushered in vodka as the go-to pour and is now the tacit standard when ordering a martini at most bars. How you mix a martini is up for grabs, too: old-school mixologists believe stirring the drink is not only proper etiquette but allows for more balance and flavor. But the method de rigueur is to shake the mixture together, thanks in part to Tom Cruise’s slick bartending skills in the throwback Hollywood hit, Cocktail, where performance is part and parcel to the drink being served.
So, there’s shaken, there’s stirred, and now there’s sitting. Enter modern-day mixologist Pat Carden, head bartender at Chandlers Prime Steaks and Fine Seafood in Boise, Idaho’s capital city. Consider him the mad scientist behind Idaho’s latest libation, the legendary Ten Minute Martini, truly a drink fit for James Bond.
A cleaner-cut version of Walter White, Carden is part bartender, part alchemist, with a hint of intensity and avuncular approachability—basically, the kind of guy you’d like to strike up a conversation with at a bar. He’s honed his craft over the years, serving up drinks, gleaning inspiration from his grandfather who taught him to never shake a martini and learning the elements of physics from his high school science teacher, who taught him the intricate properties of convection, a crucial factor in the formation of his famous recipe. He’s fond of storytelling, referencing the art of making a martini to the act of dancing: shaking a martini is like slam dancing, where the partners, gin and vermouth, bounce into each other and never really connect; stirring a martini is akin to a waltz, where the liquids meld together in subtlety and romance.
Despite his years of experience and training, Carden’s Ten Minute Martini came by way of accident, as maany good things do. One night while tending bar, he was preparing a martini for a guest. Midway through preparation, the guest told Carden to stop and wait as he stepped outside to take a phone call. Carden did as instructed and buried the concoction of gin and vermouth deep in a well of ice, letting it sit. Twenty minutes later, the guest returned and insisted he’d take the drink as is, despite Carden’s insistence that he’d be happy to fix a fresh drink, as the other would be too watered down. However, the guest insisted on drinking the original. After taking one sip, he declared it the smoothest, best-tasting martini he’d ever had, and kept ordering the same martini again and again each time he came in, not minding the wait.
The secret? Convection. During the wait, the martini had been magically stirring itself through the process of quiescent convection, where molecules of liquid descend in suspension as the mixture chills on ice. Much to everyone’s surprise, the martini didn’t taste at all diluted; rather, it was smooth, balanced and effortless, much like watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers float across the dance floor, as Carden would say. The only change he’s made to his creation is shorting the wait time down from twenty minutes to ten. The taste is the same, he says, and the customers keep coming back to Chandlers for his signature drink, proving the old adage that good things come to those who wait.