The martini is making a comeback, and it’s all thanks to nostalgia for the ’90s. This iconic cocktail is back on the menu in all its variations, and the new martini era has begun with creative takes on the classic drink.
If you’re in Lower Manhattan, make sure to stop by Temple Bar and try their “Lifetime Ban” martini, made with gin, blanc vermouth, fino sherry, and mint. In Chicago’s Beauty Bar, you can order one of seven martinis named after hairstyles, including the “Blowout” with ginger liqueur and whiskey.
But what if you’re at home and want to jazz up your cocktail hour without buying expensive ingredients? Look no further than your pantry! A pinch of MSG can take your dirty martini recipe to the next level by enhancing the savory flavors.
Don’t believe the myths about MSG. Food scientists and racial justice activists are working to defend this ingredient, which has a misguided reputation in the United States as an unhealthy additive found primarily in Chinese-American food. In fact, MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in a wide range of dishes, including Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches. It’s also found naturally in tomatoes, certain types of cheese, and other foods, according to the FDA.
MSG was discovered by Japanese biochemist Kikunae Ikeda in the early 1900s in the edible sea kelp kombu. He coined the term “umami” to describe its distinct savory, salty flavor. Today, you can find MSG in the spice aisles of most Asian grocery stores as a crystalline powder. And it’s a game-changer when it comes to making things taste better than they are, including your dirty martini.
Dan Souza, editor-in-chief of Cook’s Illustrated, is a big fan of using brine in his cocktails and has teamed up with MSG evangelist J. Kenji López-Alt to create a supremely savory dirty martini. Lead bartender Channing Centeno at Bonnie’s in Brooklyn also serves an MSG martini made with Grey Goose vodka or Botanist gin, olive brine, sweet-and-sour Shaoxing wine, and, of course, MSG.
So go ahead and give your dirty martini a boost with a pinch of MSG. You won’t be disappointed!