Why Our Ten-Minute Martini™ is Better Than the ‘Original’

Pat Carden is no bartender.

The term suggests a mere custodian, one whose job is simply to make sure the customers’ glasses are filled and their tabs are paid. Pat Carden is much more. He is a genuine cocktail chef, a creator of truly original and memorable drinks. He is a genius.

Carden’s greatest triumph is the Ten-Minute Martini™. It is our favorite drink, and I’m proud to say that I learned to make it from Pat himself, in a sushi-and-martini class he led at the old Kandor in Boise — a class that Chef Sin bought me for my birthday several years ago. I’ve followed Carden’s recipe religiously ever since when I’ve made it for friends and family — once even famously refusing a request to substitute vodka for gin (more on that later).

This martini is unusual in that it’s neither shaken nor stirred; rather, the spirits are poured over ice into a shaker jar, which is then plunged into an ice bucket or bin and left to stand for 10 minutes. The chilling process, the theory goes, causes the gin and vermouth, with their varying specific gravities, to gently mix without dilution. The result is spectacular.

Pat’s creation has earned him the  Boise Weekly’s title of Martini Mix-Off champion year after year, first when he worked the late, great Milky Way, and more recently at Chandler’s.

I order Pat’s martinis at Chandler’s — hand crafted by the master himself. They are tremendous.

But the ones we make ourselves at home are better.

Here’s why:

The Ten-Minute Martini at Chandler’s is marketed as the original, and it is almost the real deal. You wait a full 10 minutes (or more) for it to arrive at your table.  The shaker comes encrusted in ice, proof that it has spent the requisite time in the bin. The wait staff are skilled at the dramatic pour into the chilled glass, sending the expertly carved and curled lemon peel swirling.

But here’s the thing.

The olives are wrong.

At Chandler’s  — at least, each of the four times I have been there in the past 18 months — the olives have been wrong. They are traditional, pitted, pimento-stuffed queen olives, available in any grocery store and acceptable in any conventional martini. But not in a Ten-Minute Martini.

At the Milky Way, Pat Carden used only unpitted Picholine olives; in the class, he stressed that this was important. Hard to find, expensive, a challenge to thread onto a pick, the best ones I’ve bought have been from Trader Joe’s in Bend, Ore.* Good ones are available at the Boise Co-op.

And they are, in a word, exquisite. Small bites of salty pleasure. Peeling them away from the pit with your teeth is almost effortless. A regular olive is texture; a Picholine is joy.

I don’t know why Chandler’s seems to have resorted to a plain vanilla olive. Cost, maybe. Or the liability posed by those pits. Or the fact that most people who order martinis expect them to contain big blobs of green with red belly buttons, not tough little pearls that demand attention and offer rewards.

But an ordinary olive makes a Ten-Minute Martini faux at best, fraud at worst.

So here’s the real real deal, from the hand of the master: the Ten-Minute Martini recipe to rule them all.

Na zdrowie!

Ten-Minute Martini™

By Pat Carden


2 1/4 oz Plymouth gin

1/2 ox Noilly Pratt French Dry Vermouth

2 Picholine olives

Lemon twist


Pour the gin and vermouth into an iced mixing jar. Bury the jar in an iced sink. Wait 10 minutes until the cocktail is well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with lemon twist and olives. Remember, they have pits.

P.S. Chandler’s now offers the option of a Ten-Minute Martini made with vodka instead of gin. This is one variation I endorse. So Tracy, please forgive me. Next time, your Ten-Minute Vodka Martini is on me.

* July 2014 Update: Trader Joe’s no longer seems to carry Picholines or any close variants. Our favorites now come from the deli at the Ashland (Ore.) Food Co-op.

6 thoughts on “Why Our Ten-Minute Martini™ is Better Than the ‘Original’”

  1. Thanks for the great review of the 10 Minute Martini. You’re absolutly right, the picholine olives are superior. The allusion to liability issues is also spot on. We do not wish to disappoint. Picholines are always available at Chandlers for those in the know. Just ask.

    If you’re in the mood for something a bit different, try the variation of James Bond’s signature cocktail called “The Vesper Reconsidered”. Pat

  2. I’ve had the pleasure of Mr, Carden’s martini at Chandlers and have made it following his directions. But what I cannot seem to get is the ice clinging to the serving glass, even though I did plunge it in fresh ice for the 10-minutes. Could that secret be divulged? I have some CA girlfriends I wish to impress.

    1. Jean, I don’t know how Chandler’s does it, but I’ve been able to reproduce the clinging ice effect by simply wetting down the outside of the glasses and/or cocktail shaker before plunging them into the ice. Works great.

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I did try your suggestion before, but perhaps it is the shape of my ice or the temperature. My glass just slides right back out, even if I freeze the glass first, then wet it and plunge it.

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