Today was my birthday, and I’ve been saving this drink until today.
For most people the Martini is the Cocktail, over time that image of a Martini glass became the icon that is used to show if something is a bar, and if you see this on the outside of a building you know they are probably a bar, and may even know how to mix a Martini.
Martini’s died a death during the late 80’s, they never really left, but palates were after something brightly coloured and garish, to mirror the 80’s. For me they were saved by the Cosmopolitan, the first drink for a long time which was enjoyed by all and had global success, and was served in a Martini glass, all of a sudden people didn’t want the long tropical blue drinks, they wanted something in a martini glass.
Then in the late 90’s in London we had Dick Bradsell and Ben Reid, both of whom started putting more and more drinks into Martini glasses, and in particular we had fruit Martini’s. Not really a Martini per-se, but it had people ordering ‘Martini’s’, and cocktails came into vogue again in a big way. But it wasn’t until gin started taking over the world, and people needed a way to drink it, which let them taste what they were paying for, that we saw the Martini come back in from the cold and be fashionable again.
David Embury unsurprisingly is rather opinionated when it comes to Martini’s, he touches on the difference between a wet and dry martini, and lists the generic drinks of the time, in a charmingly off hand manner ‘you will find many books that list the three types of Martini’s as follows (and I do not recommend any of them)’ and then after the 2:1 gin vermouth ration drinks he notes ‘My advice is to forget them all and, in your own home, serve the following’
Martini De Luxe from David Embury’s ‘The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks’
1 part Lillet Vermouth
7 parts imported English Gin
Stir well in a large glass or martini pitcher with cubes of ice and pour into chilled cocktail glasses. Twist lemon peel over the top
For me Martini’s are not about a recipe, its more of a concept, like coffee. Everyone likes there coffee a little differently, and when you order one you tell the person how you like it, and then get your perfect coffee. Martini’s are the same, you never just ask for a martini, you ask for it shaken or stirred, olive or twist, which gin, which vermouth and finally what ratio. For a simple drink with two ingredients there can be a myriad of versions, part of the fun is finding the correct one for you, and then different ones for different moments.
There have been hundreds of books written on the martini, I have way to many of these, and if you would like to learn more these are the best places to look.
I’ll leave you with the best advice on martini consumption from my favourite enthusiast.