A Definitive Guide To Using Oysters In Martinis

Seafood and alcoholic beverages really do go hand in hand. Crab can be paired beautifully with a Riesling, lobster with a Chardonnay, and mussels with some Chablis. But it seems like you can enjoy oysters with just about anything, since they're so delicious and versatile. Oysters are a mollusk known for their minerality and their refreshing flavor, and normally are served raw, fried, or steamed. They're often prepared with minimal spices to avoid overwhelming their delicate taste (via Yummy Mummy Kitchen).

A lot of shellfish and wine lovers might suggest some Champagne or Muscadet to drink along with the briny seafood, but there are liqueurs and cocktails that are also absolutely divine with oysters. Advanced Mixology suggests that with your next order of oysters you try sipping on a Stinger, a Hemingway Daiquiri, a seafood-infused Bloody Mary, or, of course, a classic martini. A martini uses gin (though many switch this out for vodka), dry vermouth, and some sort of garnish, whether you prefer a lemon twist or an untraditional caperberry. Sometimes, however, a martini requires a bit more of a salty bite to really get your taste buds going. The Oyster's My World says that while oysters can be successfully enjoyed with wine, beer, and even fermented buttermilk, we think that the oyster and the martini are the ultimate combination.

Why you should pair oysters with martinis

Let's get something straight first: You don't necessarily have to enjoy oysters in your martini — though you should definitely try it — but you should absolutely pair the two together. Why? The flavors complement each other beautifully. Martinis are meant to have a dry and briny quality (most often supplied by olives or caperberries), which naturally bring a salty, citrusy note to the liquor. It's a perfect dry-savory combo.

But for some martini drinkers, the type of oyster enjoyed alongside their cocktail is as important a factor as anything. So, if you're interested in playing around with seafood in your gin, try sourcing your oysters from different places and make note of which kind you prefer the most! Epicurious claims that Pacific Northwest oysters have green notes of cucumber that work perfectly with Hendricks gin, which has a botanical aroma. And if you can buy them, the site says French oysters are the best balance of flavors to use in your cocktail. The Manual recommends that if you are using East Coast oysters, they tend to have extra salinity and are crisp, so pair them with a classic gin martini.

There are, in fact, many oyster types worth trying from each coast, according to Food & Wine; between those and all of the types of gin, vermouth, and vodka out there, there should be some great flavor pairings to discover.

How to incorporate oysters into your cocktail

Now, if you are one of the brave souls willing to bring some excitement to their martinis, pucker up! To begin, let's not just pluck a whole oyster into your perfectly good martini — that will come later. Instead, Wine Enthusiast suggests the Marseillan martini: Begin by adding some lemon thyme to your choice of vodka and vermouth, then strain oyster water from the mollusk to whip it up with some egg whites and more lemon so you can use it as a foam to top your martini along with a stylish oyster garnish.

If you are searching for a more intense oyster martini, Great British Chefs recommends infusing your vermouth with the oysters before assembling your cocktail. The infusion process can take days, so be prepared to spend some time making this particular mixer; and their recipe calls for the use of oyster shells in the infusion, so make sure those suckers are clean as a whistle before merging them with your liquor. 

For those of you who live for the oyster, you might just skip the mixology and throw one into the bottom of your martini, though Native Flavor does warn that if you simply plop an oyster into your glass, the flavor will have difficulty surfacing. That said, the shellfish will absorb some of the martini and become extra plump, making it a perfect treat at the bottom of your glass.