It wouldn’t be a lie to say that the Gin Martini would have to be the world’s most famous drink. Classic, iconic and supremely sophisticated, it is the clean simplicity of this drink that keeps it on everybody’s lips (and in every home bartenders repertoire).
But don’t be fooled by simplicity. While this drink may only have two ingredients, it’s what you do with them that counts. The Martini is all about creating harmony between just a few elements.
Francesco Turrini, bar manager at Sydney’s Eau De Vie, who knows a thing or two about mixing a Martini that matters, believes that over dilution is the biggest culprit when it comes to a bad Martini.
“If you have too much dilution the temperature doesn’t drop, it goes up. If you have an over-diluted and warm Martini that is even worse than a warm beer and nobody wants that.”
While there may not be much known about the history of the Gin Martini, Turrini is quick to point out that the one thing that everyone can agree on is that it is descended from the Martinez. While not much is known, how is should be made is hotly contended.
We all know that we shouldn’t, as Ian Fleming suggested, shake but instead stir. Yet it is the ever-present debate about how much Vermouth to add that could fill volumes.
Turrini suggests that when you are starting out with the drink the typical 7 to 1 or 5 to 1 ratio between Gin and Vermouth is a good place to start. He says that this ratio has a “broader style taste and is what most people are used to being served in bars. After that, it clearly comes down to personal taste.”
With so many Gin variations on the market, it can be hard to know which Gin is the best but Terrini believes if you stay with a Juniper forward, London Dry, you can’t go wrong. While non-traditional Gins work in a wide array of cocktails, when it comes to the classic Gin Martini, tradition may actually be a positive thing.
As it needs to integrate flawlessly with the Vermouth, you don’t want a gin that has too much of a ‘look-at-me’ character. So pick a Gin that’s modest, but stated – a genteel gin, if you will.
As long as it is actually a Dry Vermouth, the brand of Vermouth is also a matter of taste and preference. “There are so many great Dry Vermouths, so many great brands out there,” Turrini points out.“These days we have plenty of Australian Vermouths which I really like. I think it’s good to use something that comes from the land where you are.”
As the old expression goes, the best Vermouth is a fresh Vermouth, so always remember the simple rules; don’t expose it to heat or allowed to sit unrefrigerated, once opened.
While the classic choice for a Gin Martini may be a Lemon twist garnish, it’s important to remember there are other options. The garnish plays a pivotal role in a Martini, as it is very much the seasoning for the drink.
Turrini has chosen Olives as his favourite garnish as they amplifying the savoury flavours, but this is a matter of personal taste, you could also choose Orange, Lime or Onions.
While it’s tempting to pull out a Martini glass for a Martini, Turrini points out that the ’80’s trend for oversized Martini glasses just results in a “pint of Gin Martini that’s not nice for anyone.” Turrini instead suggests the use of a Nick & Nora-stye glass
“In a double martini glass, which is the old school style, the glass only looks half full. Nick & Nora can hold the drink perfectly and it looks very sexy in that glass.”
A Martini should always be stirred with ice, not only so as to chill the liquid but to also dilute the drink. Turrini belies this is where a lot of home bartenders get into trouble. He advised that you under stir rather than over stir. “Really, you are only looking for around 15-20% dilution,” he recommends. The objective of course when you are stirring is to not break up the ice but stir in such a way that the ice is moving as one solid unit.
While you have probably read the words “strain into a chilled glass” many a time, with a Martini it’s particularly important that the glass is cold. As Turrini points out, it’s simple physics – if you pour cold liquid into a warm vessel, the liquid will warm up that much faster.
2 oz/60 ml Plymouth Gin
0.17 oz/5ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
In a mixing glass, add the Gin & Dry Vermouth. Stir until the ingredients are chilled and only slightly diluted. Strain into a chilled glass.
Garnish with Olives.