Dry, Dirty or Filthy?
How do you like your Martinis?
You would like to make a gin Martini cocktail at home but are unsure exactly how to go about it. On the face of it, the Martini is the easiest cocktail to make with only 2 or 3 ingredients, starting with gin and vermouth. But a really good gin Martini requires precision and care. So where do you start?
Origins of the Gin Martini
There are many stories about the birth of this most iconic of cocktails.
One is that it was created by ‘Professor’ Jerry Thomas as evidenced in his cocktail manual The Bartenders Guide, 1887 edition where it is named as the Martinez cocktail. Thomas claimed to have invented it at San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel.
Rather romantically is the story that it was created during the 1800s gold rush in Martinez California. The legend is that a gold miner who had struck it rich wanted to celebrate in a local bar. As they didn’t have champagne the bartender concocted a drink from gin, vermouth, bitters, maraschino liqueur and a slice of lemon. And the Martinez was born which later became the Martini.
Perhaps more prosaically is that the Martini brand of sweet vermouth, first produced in 1863, gave rise to a concoction of gin and vermouth, abbreviated to Martini. Presumably by drinkers in a hurry.
Whatever the origin of the of the gin Martini, it is one cool drink and a perfect aperitif as the sun goes down. Even the cone-shaped glass it is served in has understated iconic status. Truly if ever a cocktail deserved an accolade it is the Martini.
Shaken or Stirred
Okay, so it is almost impossible to write this post without mentioning James Bond. Whereas 007 preferred his Martinis shaken, many purists will argue that this causes unnecessary dilution and should be avoided at all costs. At the moment the Stirred contingent are holding sway. But it may only be a matter of time before Shaken becomes the thing again. Time will tell.
One thing everyone agrees on is that your cocktail should be cold, very. Whether you are shaking or stirring you must use ice that is fresh out of the freezer, as dry as possible. And if you can, chill your glass in the freezer too.
Choose a gin you like. This might seem like stating the obvious but the character of your gin will determine the character of your final drink. There is no hiding place in this cocktail for a cheap budget gin. Don’t do that to this classiest of cocktails. Just don’t.
The Martini 5 Ways
The Dry Martini ~ 5:1 ratio.
50ml London Dry Gin, 10ml extra dry vermouth. Stir (or shake) both in a shaker with ice. Try not to break up the ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
The Dirty Martini ~ 5:1 ratio
50ml London Dry Gin, 5 ml dry vermouth, 5ml olive brine from a jar of good olives. Same method as before. Garnish with an olive on a cocktail stick.
The Filthy Martini ~ 5:1 ratio
50ml London Dry gin, 5ml dry vermouth, 2.5ml fresh lime juice, 2.5ml olive brine. Same method as before. Garnish with olives and a lemon twist.
The Gibson Martini
Garnish a dry martini with a small cocktail onion (yes really).
The Perfect Martini
50% dry + 50% sweet vermouth
More Martini Tidbits
Naked ~ with the barest smidgen of vermouth.
Wet ~ a ratio of 3:1.
Extra wet ~ a ratio of 1:1.
‘Straight up’ means prepared with ice then strained into a glass.
With a twist ~ twist, a strip of citrus peel over the martini then pop it into the cocktail.
Choose lemon, lime or orange to go with the character of your gin.
And finally, a few Martini quotes…
“A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy” ~ Noel Coward
“If you told me to write a love song tonight, I’d have a lot of trouble. But if you tell me to write a love song about a girl with a red dress who goes into a bar and is on her fifth martini and is falling off her chair, that’s a lot easier, and it makes me free to say anything I want” ~ Stephen Sondheim
“Why don’t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?” ~ Robert Benchley
“One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough” ~ James Thurber
“Happiness is…..finding two olives in your martini when you’re hungry” ~ Johnny Carson