The elusive martini

On recommendation from my friend, Mr. 302, who drives a nicer car than me (yes, it’s a 302), this advice from MisterLucky:

“Before leaving for the office, place the best gin your paycheck allows in the icebox, along with a bottle of Noilly Prat or other fine vermouth. A glass pitcher and stemmed glasses should rest in the freezer compartment. Why not make fresh ice while you’re in there?

Upon your return home, put some Henry Mancini on the Hi-Fi and fill up the pitcher with ice. Pour about a capful of vermouth over the ice and coat well with an iced tea spoon, or better, yet a glass stirring rod.

Place your cocktail strainer (or a wooden spoon in a pinch) over the pitcher and strain. The old vermouth goes down the sink.

Now pour in your gin. Stir gently but briskly. Rough treatment might excite you but it bruises a dry martini. Taste is not affected but since a martini is a treat for all of the senses we feel the eyes should be let in on the fun.

If you notice, our ice is melting. Quick! Strain the nectar into stemmed cocktail glasses. Garnish with lemon, olive, onion or serve au natural. Check for unsighlty and diluting specks of ice and serve.

Note: There is no such thing as a vodka martini. There may be a vodka/vermouth drink that you enjoy but it is NOT a martini.

Thank you for your very kind attention.

I don’t know if 302’s own martini expertise comes from here; I am willing to bet it probably doesn’t, and besides, 302 does not snub the vodka. Anyhow, I’m beginning to understand that the culture around this drink is very serious indeed.

Pity so many of the bartenders in this country still labour under the impression that VERY dry martini = lots and lots of vermouth. Ugh!

The problem comes down to books again. If more people read books, they would have heard Hemingway say that one needs only show the vermouth to the gin, that’s it. OK, maybe that’s an urban legend, I haven’t actually read it either, and if you look up Hemingway’s martini, “The Montgomery”, you’ll see that the ratio is in fact 15 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. But it’s a good story. And the drink does look fine, does it not…

ps. I didn’t realise that there is a whole cookbook named after the old man. Amazing what cool things one discovers when looking for something else.


(Image courtesy of that book)

One Reply to “The elusive martini”

  1. I once wrote a review for mr lucky, blue and bossa 3? but that’s for another post.

    I have a different take on gin martinis, the more expensive the gin, the more flagrant and sweet it is in my opinion. I reckon you need to look for cheap, extra dry gin, chill it, add something citrus and just a little good gin and if required just a drop of rose water, garnish with a lemon peel = ‘the bad girl.’

    This weekend I was lucky enough to track down some, Ciroc vodka, which is made from grapes and I want to try it with is some raspberry syrup and Tabasco or with some heat, perhaps put a chilli in the mixer.

    Yes martini making is a serious business – and I haven’t found a place that makes good ‘bad boys’ in Cape Town yet but keep spreading tha word, maybe they’ll realise ‘dry’ is just a quick glance at the vermouth and nothing more.

    And by way of a footnote, I’ve got a busy couple of weeks but then, life! awaits in week one of December, when I think we should do that drink- crickey it’s been six months in the planning.

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