A Martini is one of those fabulously simple foodie things that despite having only two main ingredients, demands utmost respect at all times. There are near countless variations on the Martini recipe. These range from classic twists on a traditional Dry Martini such as a Perfect, a tasty novelty twist such as the Appletini and semi-disgusting variants such as the Mantini (made with British Ale and garnished with olive and bacon).
To make a great Martini is to understand the subtle idiosyncrasies of the drink; that it is quality over quantity, and that because there are so many ways to customise the drink (i.e. shaken or stirred?) there are plenty of opinions as to what makes the perfect Martini.
Let’s put all of these out of our minds for a while and concentrate on the original (and arguably the best), a Dry Martini, made the traditional way. This drink – mixed and served well – is the sign of a great bartender or discerning drinker.
To make a Dry Martini the following ingredients are needed:
– 2.5 shots Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin
– 0.75 shots Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
– 1 dash Angostura Bitters (optional, to taste)
– Olives / Lemon zest twist / Onion to garnish
Quality ingredients make a great Martini. Bombay Sapphire is one of the best gins to use; its use of 10 botanical ingredients (such as juniper berries, coriander and almond) give the gin a more floral taste which works really well with Vermouth. An alternative to Bombay is Tanqueray Gin. Both brands are widely available.
The choice of vermouth depends on the drinker; Noilly Prat is a good all-rounder – superbly dry and a clean, refreshing taste. Another great tasting option is Martini & Rossi’s dry vermouth. As vermouth is variation of wine, to find the best is a matter of taste, so enjoy finding out which maker you prefer!
Take a good sized Martini (V-shaped) glass and chill it well in advance of preparation; keep it in the freezer for an hour beforehand. Failing this, fill the glass with crushed ice and leave to stand.
Take a Boston can or tumbler glass and half-fill with ice cubes. Pour the vermouth over the ice and stir until all the ice cubes are covered in vermouth. Discard the excess vermouth, leaving just the vermouth-covered cubes in the can/glass.
Pour the gin over the ice, stir and fine strain into the Martini glass.
Olives are the traditional garnish (doesn’t really matter if they are stuffed or not). A ‘Franklyn Martini’ has two olives. A ‘Gibson’ is a Martini garnished with onion and of course, there is the ever popular lemon twist. A ‘Dickens’ is a Martini without a twist.
♦ Popular Variants
The following are made in a very similar fashion; essentially a good Martini is well chilled and made with superb ingredients. The ‘Vesper’ is named after the James Bond character (remember *that* scene in Casino Royale?) and is made with gin and vodka. A Wet Martini is made with lots of vermouth, a Dirty Martini is made with brine from an olive jar and a Vodkatini or Vodka Martini is… well guess.
However you or your guests like their Martinis, remember to serve them ice cold, use quality ingredients and use a quality glass. Tuxedo and a Scottish lisp are optional.