Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Martini Savoir Faire

As a lot of you already know, I like GIN! One of my favourite drinks and I think that nothing can beat a nice long, cold, gin and tonic with a twist of lime in the summer. I am a purist and I don’t like to do too much to my gin, apart from mixing a few classic cocktails, and the martini is one of them. For those of you that think a martini can be made with vodka, I would probably suggest stop reading now. Not to start a war here, however a true martini should not be made with anything else except gin. If you must make it with vodka, call it something else, but not a martini. (Ok, I might be appearing, boorishly pretentious here, however I am not going to make any excuses).

Basically a martini consists of gin and vermouth, and that’s it! Nothing else, so forget the flavourings, the fruity liqueuers! The trick to a great tasting martini lies in the correct balance of vermouth to the gin. As to how much vermouth, that is under constant debate, which borders on the sensible to the ridiculous!

Winston Churchill had several variations as to the balance of vermouth, including

"Glance at the vermouth bottle briefly while pouring the juniper distillate freely."


“Wave an unopened bottle of vermouth over the glass freely”

Someone else (I am not sure who) was quite happy with the vermouth bottle being opened in the same room as you were making the drink.

However here is the lowdown. (Make sure gin and glass have been chilled to within an inch of their lives.

6 oz Gin
A splash of dry vermouth
3 Olives
Ice Cubes

Swirl the vermouth around the glass and then discard it! I don’t care what you do with it, pour it down the sink, give it to the cat or drink it yourself, but get most of it out of the glass.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then pour in the gin, and shake it like there is no tomorrow. Strain into your glass and you are as good as gold.

Spear the olives place in glass and enjoy.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for how many of these you drink and the resultant hangover. Actually that goes for all the drinks I feature on savoir faire.


  1. Wonderful blog. I hope you don't think it disparaging if I point out some tiny irreconcilable statements in the Martini piece. You say to 'forget the flavorings' and that, if you must make a drink with vodka instead of gin, 'please call it something other than a Martini'.
    The problem is, of course, that gin is flavored vodka. Hence, a Martini made without flavorings is by definition made with vodka. Like you, I happen to like the aromatics used to flavor vodka to make it gin, so prefer the gin Martini, but I do think one has to be gracious--even open-minded--toward those who demure.

  2. I'm with you on this. It's gin. The vermouth in excess wrecks the martini. It also packs on the pounds.
    Have you tried either Cold River Traditional Gin from Maine, or Cascade Mountain Gin from Oregon?

    [Plymouth Gin was, I believe, the favorite of Churchill and Roosevelt.]


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