Cari Hah: Why I Love the Fifty-Fifty Martini

Fifty-Fifty Martini

Three Clubs bartender Cari Hah talks about her love of the Fifty-Fifty Martini and shares a couple of recipes.

I am fairly certain that I am a simple person. At least on the surface I am a simple person. I like spirits, I like Kit Kats, I like Hello Kitty. The cocktails I make are simple affairs: no more than a few ingredients combined to highlight the inherent flavor of the base spirit.

It may be this reason that I am so in love with the Fifty-Fifty Martini. I actually call them Fitty-Fitties ‘cuz you know, it sounds thuggish. I consider it one of the world’s most perfect cocktails. It’s a simple enough idea: equal parts gin and vermouth. Or vodka – seriously, don’t hate. I’m into vodka and it’s NOT a useless spirit. Stir both together with ice and add a dash of orange bitters if you’re into that sort of thing. (I am not a fan of the orange bitters. I don’t know why, I just don’t like them.) Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist or an olive. What could be simpler than that?

And yet within this simple cocktail are endless possibilities. I feel inexplicable satisfaction and joy when I make a Fifty-Fifty. It starts this way: I have to consider who is ordering the drink. This is not a drink that a person who doesn’t enjoy cocktails would order by name. So I assume that the person who orders this drink by name will have a preference of base spirit. That is the first question.

Then, depending on that base, the vermouth must be taken into consideration. There are vermouths that can overpower certain bases and/or add too much floral note and the whole drink turns weird. Also, you can play with a combination of vermouths, staying within the realm of the equal parts ratio, to change the whole game all together. Ice is also a factor. Depending on what kind of ice I am working with, the timing of the stir and all things involved changes as well. And finally the garnish: lemon twist or olive? Or both? I mean, why the fuck not? What is more delicious than that aroma of fresh citrus and a slight bit of salinity that one olive can bring? All of these little things added up – along with the love I have towards this drink, my guests and my profession – equal a pristine, beautiful cocktail that in its complicated simplicity becomes a most soul-satisfying situation.

I guess the Fifty-Fifty cocktail is a drink that is indicative of me. I am a simple person but within that simplicity are a lot more complications than what shows on the surface. I really do love me a Fitty-Fitty.

Fifty Fifty: Go-To Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Absolut Elyx or Snow Leopard Vodka
  • 1.5 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • 3 dashes of Miracle Mile Yuzu Bitters
  • Stir with ice then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist and a Dirty Sue Pimento Stuffed Olive.

Fifty Fifty: Gin Version

  • 1.5 oz Botanist Gin
  • 1.25 oz Noilly Prat Extra Dry
  • 0.25 oz Carpano Bianco Vermouth
  • Stir with ice then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist.
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