Like most things that have been around for over a century, the idea of the ‘perfect Martini’ is subject to its own whims and trends.
Right now, the pendulum has swung towards the very, very dry – a gin Martini that’s barely shared a passing glance with vermouth, as bracing and cold as they come.
Of course, that’s one legitimate way of enjoying a Martini, but we’re of the persuasion that there are few wrong ways to mix this most classic of cocktails. And bartenders agree. Below, we’ve caught up with four of London’s top mixologists, who’ve each shared the recipe for their perfect Martini with us. From the sweet and vermouth-laced to the herbaceous and absinthe-dosed, see if these interesting tweaks won’t just persuade you to experiment a bit with your order.
We’re of the persuasion that there are few wrong ways to mix this most classic of cocktails…
Funnily enough, all of the bartenders that we spoke to confessed that they liked their Martinis on the wetter end of the spectrum. Max Venning of Islington’s 69 Colebrooke Row prepares a roughly 3 to 1 Martini when mixing for himself, and hints that vermouth may finally be coming back into fashion.
Says Venning: “I add all the ingredients to a metal tin over ice, stir quickly for 25-30 rotations and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Depending on my mood I garnish with a lemon twist or, for something a little more complex, a dash of absinthe on the top. This adds an amazing anise note, which brings out the earthy flavours from the angelica and orris.” Sounds delectable to us.
Max Venning’s Perfect Martini:
15 ml dry vermouth (Martini Extra Dry or Noilly Prat)
50 ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
Lemon twist or 2 dashes of absinthe
Declan McGurk, Bar Manager at the Savoy Hotel’s storied American Bar, notes a similar preference for wet Martinis – his ideal ratio leans even more heavily towards vermouth. And when it comes to mixing? He confides: “The key is in the ice, as we only use block ice and in the correct dimensions to ensure that we reduce the temperature as low as it can go. It must be cold enough to chew on!”
Declan McGurk’s Perfect Martini:
2 parts Sipsmith London Dry Gin
1 part dry vermouth
1 drop absinthe
Meanwhile Gareth Evans, who oversees the bars at decorated chef Jason Atherton’s restaurants, also confesses: “I like to drink slightly wetter Martins than most, about 4 parts gin to 1 vermouth – the common way to drink them seems to be very dry nowadays.” He also notes, “I don’t add any bitters, even though this is coming back into fashion.”
Evans recommends stirring over shaking, which lends a smoother texture to the final product; he blends the ingredients over lots of ice for about 15 seconds before straining into a frozen cocktail glass. As for the garnish, his preferences oscillate between a lemon twist, olives, or even an onion-topped Gibson Martini.
I like to rest the spirit amongst the ice, until I see spontaneous movement from the ice. I believe that is the cocktail whispering to me that it is ready…
Gareth Evans’s Perfect Martini:
60 ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
15 ml dry vermouth (Dolin or Noilly Prat)
He says: “My perfect Martini is always made with a very good measure of gin and a small splash of fino sherry. I add all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice – the more the better – and stir it a maximum of two or three times only.
I like to rest the spirit amongst the ice, until I see spontaneous movement from the ice. I believe that is the cocktail whispering to me that it is ready (I’m not already drunk, I’m just a romantic!) I then stir it one more time and gently strain it over a very cold cocktail glass.” It’s a decidedly quirky methodology, but who’s to fault him with a recipe that looks this decadent:
Francesco Turrini’s Perfect Martini:
60 ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
5 ml Tio Pepe sherry
3 dashes orange bitters
So there you have it: there are as many ways to mix a Martini as there are eager drinkers and imaginative bartenders. We’re intrigued to see the return of a preference for wetter Martinis, though wet or dry, kissed with bitters or austerely ungarnished, we’re more than content with almost any blend that comes our way.