Martini is undoubtedly the most famous cocktail in the world having found a following in popular culture as well as with patrons across the globe
Undoubtedly, the Martini is one of the most famous cocktails in the world. What with James Bond having it ‘shaken not stirred’ and Ernest Hemingway liking them dry. In Across the River and Into the Trees, Colonel Richard Cantwell orders a Montgomery Martini: 15 parts gin to one vermouth. In A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry muses of sipping martinis: “I had never tasted anything so cool and clean. They made me feel civilized.”
How the martini originated has several theories. One of them is that Italian bartender Martini di Arma made the first martini in 1911 for John D. Rockefeller who was a frequent guest at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City. He loved the drink and dubbed it ‘the martini’ after the bartender. Another commonly accepted story is that Jerry Thomas, a bartender at the Occidental Hotel, invented the drink in Martinez, California in the 1870s for a miner who had just struck gold. Apparently the miner wanted to celebrate with Champagne, but the bar was out. Thomas crafted the miner a drink with the ingredients he had behind the bar — without him knowing it the Martini was born, starting a cocktail craze for the gin-based concoction.
Though Bond prefers it shaken, not stirred, martinis are generally stirred. A martini ‘on the rocks’ is served over ice as opposed to being strained into a cocktail glass, and ‘with a twist’ refers to the addition of a thin piece of citrus peel.
The classic martini is a simple combination of gin and dry vermouth. Variations like the Gibson – which is garnished with a pickled onion instead of an olive, dirty martini — includes dashes of olive brine, have been around for several years. Recently, martinis have evolved from the simple gin and vermouth mix. Modern classics like the breakfast martini and the espresso martini are famous around the world.
When vodka replaces the gin, it is called a ‘kangroo’. What James Bond favours is called ‘Vesper’ made with gin, vodka and vermouth, garnished with a twist of lemon peel. The cocktail featured in Ian Fleming’s very first Bond novel — Casino Royale — and is named after Vesper Lynd, the original Bond girl. In the book, Bond himself tells the exact recipe to the bartender. “A dry martini. One. In a deep champagne goblet. . . . Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” Kina Lillet is a fortified wine.
Dushyant Tanwar, Mixologist & Brand Manager of Monika Enterprises — one of the country’s largest importer and distributor of international liquor brands, explains, “To make a good martini (or any other spirit forward drink) take care of two co-dependent factors — the temperature of everything and the dilution that is the amount of water that the ice adds to your drink. Chilled ingredients, glasses and tools will ensure you get a chilled drink (the way it should be). Dilution is one thing that can make or break the martini. And there is no perfect dilution, it’s like taste, everyone has their own preference. Not enough dilution will make the martini seem strong and over dilution will make it watery. What will help you achieve a good level of dilution is good ice, chilled ingredients and a chilled mixing glass. Easy enough to take care of, but very hard to perfect.”
Here are three recipes shared by him:
The simple classic with gin and sweet vermouth. A delight for those who enjoy the subtle sweet flavours.
• Langley’s Old Tom Gin– 45 ml
• Carpano Antica formula – 15 ml
In a mixing glass stir both the ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.
Created by Salvatore Calabrese in 2000. This modern classic gets a perfect balance of sweet and citrus flavours to your palate.
• Langley’s Old Tom Gin – 60 ml
• Orange Marmalade – 1 bar spoon
• Triple Sec – 22.5 ml
• Lemon Juice – 22.5 ml
Shake all ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupe or a martini glass. Garnish with a twist of orange or lemon.
The perfect drink for lovers of vermouth.
• Boodles London Dry Gin – 45 ml
• Dry Vermouth – 45 ml
Stir both ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with 3 olives on a cocktail stick or a twist of lemon.