Shaken, stirred, dirty, dry: there are many ways to make the perfect Martini, and just as many opinions about which method is the best.
It seems everyone – from master bartenders to amateur mixologists, from three-Martini business lunchers to casual after-work drinkers – thinks they’ve got the magic formula deciphered. Below, we’ll disclose the way we think the Martini is done best, but first: a little history.
There are several different myths surrounding the birth of the Martini. Some claim it was invented in Martinez, California during the 19th-century gold rush. Others favour the theory that New York judiciary member Randolph Martine gave the drink its name. Ultimately, though, the origins remain ambiguous.
We know the Martini first appeared on the scene around the 1870s, but it was a different creature entirely with 1:2 or even 1:1 parts gin and sweet vermouth, as well as the addition of simple syrup or bitters, making it a much sweeter, less bracing beverage. By the turn of the century the ratio started to lean more heavily towards the gin until it reached its mid-century apex, when gin was barely kissed with a hint of vermouth.
The persistent attraction of the Martini, aside from its unforgettable silhouette and iconic place in pop culture, is that it’s so simple but also so tricky to perfect. With just three ingredients, it’s deceptively complex to mix, and bars like Duke’s in Mayfair, London, have built their reputation on crafting the ideal version of the Martini.
However you prefer yours, here are a few things to keep in mind. Always make sure the glass is chilled, ideally, it’ll come straight from the freezer. It’s also essential to use high-quality ingredients – since the drink is so simple, you’ll taste a lower-quality ingredient instantly.
For dry vermouth, we prefer Noilly Prat or Martini Extra Dry. For the gin, we think Sipsmith is the perfect Martini base. It’s clean, dry and full of juniper, and so does better than gins that tend towards the sweeter or more floral end of the scale. We’ll also pick sides and opt for stirred Martinis, as they promote less dilution of the ice.
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