Savor The Flavors Of A Caprese Salad, Martini-Style

The martini is the quintessential cocktail. Shaken, stirred, dirty, or dry, the drink is built around the idea of limitless creativity. These days we've got eccentric versions like the parmesan espresso martini, Velveeta's cheese martini, and the foie gras martini, and there's a solid argument that, for better or worse, social media is incentivizing bartenders to create these bizarre, buzzworthy concoctions. 

Hidden within the quiet riot of martini machinations is a surprisingly subtle and classy entry built around the caprese salad, which consists of sliced tomato, fresh basil, and mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The caprese martini narrows in on the pairing of tomato and basil. However, there's more to it than simply garnishing the drink with a cherry tomato, a ball of mozzarella, and a basil leaf.

More than some of the other modern martinis, the caprese martini stays pretty close to the spirit of the classic martini. For most variations of this cocktail, there are two main ingredients: infused vodka and dry vermouth. Some versions include tomato juice but at that point, it's really stretching the limits of what a martini can be and morphing into more of a caprese Bloody Mary.

How to make a caprese martini

Infusing vodka is a little-known trick to take the spirit and turn it into a vehicle for whatever flavor you want. For the caprese martini, that means creating tomato-basil-infused vodka. To do that, take some of the liquor and pour it into a jar. Next, put a couple of leaves of fresh basil and a ripe, diced tomato in as well. Put the jar in the freezer for at least six hours.

When it's ready, pour the contents through a strainer to catch the tomato and basil pieces, leaving only the vodka. Add the vodka back to the jar along with some olive oil before putting it back into the freezer for another 12 hours. Take it out and strain it again. Voila, you now have infused vodka. Make sure to use a fine mesh strainer throughout the process to remove any pieces of basil or ice. If there's anything that can ruin a martini, it's floating debris. 

If you don't want to infuse your vodka, you can also skip that step and use tomato water and basil simple syrup, but this extra step will ensure the freshest flavor. Either way, when you're ready to make the cocktail, grab a mixing glass and pour in 2 ounces of your infused vodka (along with a splash of your added ingredients if using instead) and 1.5 ounces of dry vermouth. Add ice and stir. Strain into a martini glass, garnish with cherry tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, and enjoy.