Shaken (never), stirred, dirty, perfect or 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.
THE STORY BEHIND THE CLASSIC DRINK
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 favor 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 serve 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.
GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT
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 DUKES 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 created our London Dry Gin to be 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.
MASTER DISTILLER JARED BROWN’S MARTINI
- 3 parts Sipsmith London Dry Gin
- 1 part dry vermouth
- Fresh lemon peel
Fill a mixing glass with ice and add the vermouth. Stir for a few seconds. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Some prefer to keep the vermouth in, though it can also be used as a wash and then discarded.
Add the gin to the ice-filled (large cubes work much better than small) mixing glass and stir briskly for about 50 turns. Strain into the glass. Twist the lemon peel over the drink, so it’s perfumed with the citric oils, and then throw over your shoulder. Serve immediately.
For a classic Martini, it’s hard to top this recipe. But as award-winning mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana says: “It’s not a drink you can just whack together, and a Martini should be tailored according to what the drinker needs. When you’ve had a really tough day and need something a little stiffer, that’s where the drier Martini works. For a more relaxing experience, I like a wetter Martini with an olive and a twist. But either way, the person who makes your perfect Martini is like your blood brother.” We couldn’t agree more.
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