Starting Fresh

he start of a new year is a time to refresh. When it comes to cocktails, this means a classic martini.

A great place for this is Genna’s Lounge. When the bar moved from its college digs on University Avenue to its current Capitol Square location in 1993, it made classic cocktails the focus. And the martini’s been a favorite ever since, says owner Kristi Genna.

“I think there’s a lot you can say about a real martini,” she says.

For starters, a real martini is made from gin, not vodka. If you want vodka, you must say so, Genna says. And the type of gin you choose makes a huge difference, so also let your bartender know the brand you want.

Schlichte, a smooth, crisp gin, is great for new martini drinkers, Genna says. Hendrick’s is flavorful with a slight floral taste (bartenders at Genna’s garnish Hendrick’s martinis with a cucumber slice). More aggressive is Beefeater; with its strong flavor, you either love it or hate it.

Whatever your gin choice, a classic martini should be served in a small, chilled glass so the gin stays cold. “Someone told me a martini should be gone in three to five sips,” Genna says.

Pour a splash of vermouth in a martini shaker and coat the sides; pour out the vermouth. Add ice and five ounces of gin to the shaker and swirl it around (avoid shaking, which “bruises” the gin). Pour gin into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an olive or a twist.

Recipe courtesy of Genna’s Lounge, 105 W. Main St., 255-4770,

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.