Dry Gin Martini
Made at The Ivy | Serves 1
60ml Beefeater London Dry
10ml Martini Extra Dry
Stir the gin and Martini over ice for 20 seconds and then strain into a frozen cocktail glass. Add a twist of lemon to serve.
“This is the hour of diminishing, of slowing down, of quieting” – the wise words of the late American author and ‘Martini Advocate’, Bernard DeVoto.
Although the cocktail hour may be less prevalent in modern London as it was in post-prohibition New York, there are many of us who still preserve the ritual of a potent cocktail or two before dinner.You’d be hard pressed to find a drink more elegant and more fitting for this timeless ritual than the Dry Martini.
Whilst there will always be a contrast in opinion as to the correct formula and method for producing this simple yet elusive drink, the subjective nature of the martini is essentially the key to its beauty. Maybe you subscribe to the Winston Churchill mantra of merely passing the bottle of vermouth over the mixing glass, or maybe you have a penchant for all things saline and crave a healthy dash of olive brine? Either way, the more you know about how you like it, the more likely you are to receive the perfect companion during this hour of stillness.
Below are a few points of interest to consider if you haven’t already found your perfect martini:
Gin or vodka?
This is down to you. Although, yes, the first martinis did favour our juniper laced friend, if you don’t like gin then choose a vodka that you do like.
The Spirit-Vermouth Ratio
Don’t be scared to challenge your preconceptions about vermouth. Many advocates of the ‘Naked’ or ‘Bone Dry’ martini have ended up that way, most probably, due to an unfortunate encounter with an over diluted, vermouth heavy concoction. As a result they have hence vowed never again to let anything other than pure gin or vodka into their precious martini. It is here where I feel compelled to speak up. Whilst the spirit is of course the star of the show, a small amount of vermouth can really bring the drink to life. The word spirit is actually quite apt as the liquid itself is essentially the spirit of its previous living self (achieved through distillation). The wine base of vermouth gives the martini that injection of life and its subtle herbs, spices and citrus element help to lift the flavours of the spirit.
Olive or Twist?
The oils and aroma of a good twist of lemon rind can provide the perfect entrance to your martini. The origins of the olive’s introduction however are not fully known. One story is that, during the prohibition era in America, when their native gin was no longer available people started putting olives in their martinis to disguise the taste of these new ‘foreign gins’. It’s up to you. If you can’t choose… then why not have both?
Shaken or Stirred?
Whilst most bartenders will reach for the mixing spoon by default, it’s completely your prerogative to ask for it to be shaken if you want an extra cold drink. However, before you do so, you may wish to take the following into consideration: when the drink is shaken, tiny air bubbles form in the liquid causing the drink to take on a slight haze. Personally I find this a bit of a shame. A delicately stirred martini will produce a more clear and pure aesthetic.
Yes, shaking the martini will make it colder but it will also create more dilution. If you still want a potent elixir then maybe opt for a navy strength gin such as Plymouth Navy Strength or Sipsmith VJOP.
This might sound bizarre at first but think of it like this. Unless you plan on knocking it back in two swift gulps your drink will start to warm up as soon as it leaves the shaker. The colder it is to start, the more rapidly it will appear to warm up (unless you are at a cocktail party in an igloo). For me a stirred martini served in a frozen glass yields the best level of continuity.