While the classic martini has been revamped a million times over, there is still something sexy about the mix of gin and vermouth.
Is there anything more appealing than hearing the phrase, made famous by a legion of James Bonds, uttered in the half-light of your favoured locale.
“Martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
The classic martini. A lethal combination and a classy one at that.
However, much the same way we tend to change our Bonds at the drop of a hat (or panties?), we seem to want to mess with the recipe of the classic martini.
Nowadays, there are cocktail lists dedicated to martini remixes. There’s the Flirtini, with a dash of champers. The Appletini that comes in a shade of green that cannot be taken seriously. Coffeetinis, Rossos, Bloody-tinis and everything in between is mixed up and served to us in a classic stemmed glass.
Though, I can’t help but wonder if the boys from the gold rush era, or even Bond himself, would have cared for the mix?
The old Occidontal Hotel in San Francisco is the scene of this week’s drink tale.
The venue, since demolished due to the severe damage it experienced during an earthquake in 1906, was a favoured choice for migrants who had flooded into the city after it was proclaimed the latest gold rush site in 1846.
After working a long day down in the shafts, a miner requested a mixer off of famed bartender, Jerry Thomas, who was granted a gold nugget in exchange for his services.
Thomas mixed bitters, cherry liqueur, a little sweetened gin and a slice of lemon.
In honour of the miner, who was heading back to Martinez in California the next day, Thomas christened the drink the martini.
The martini slinked around the recipe section of most bar manuals for a few years after that encounter. Though, it never really took up lime-light residence.
That is, until Martini di Arma di Taggia, working the bar at the Knickerbocker in New York, exchanged the sweet notes of Thomas’ recipe for dry ones. Arma di Taggia’s recipe contained equal parts dry gin and dry vermouth.
Once the fifties rolled in and product placement and gin endorsements were all the rage, the martini experienced a surge in popularity.
However, to appease the modern palette, the harshness of dry gin and vermouth has softened.
Nowadays classic martinis are served with either vodka or gin, left longer to rest in cocktail shakers to dissolve the ice and, a personal favourite, are dirtied up with a little olive brine for a smoother touch.
The classic may not have the popularity it once did, bartenders may be more willing to mess with it than any other era but there is still something striking about (wo)man with a martini in hand.
Classic recipe (modern remix):
70 Mls gin (or vodka)
14Ml of dry vermouth
Olive Brine (dirty twist optional)
Orange or Angostura bitters (optional).
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker (shaken, not stirred) with a few cubes of ice.
Allow to rest for 30 seconds
Serve in a martini glass with three olives.
Add a dash of olive brine (optional).
Tips on mixing the classic can be found here:
What’s your favourite martini mix?
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