Thoughts on the Martini

What happened to the Martini? Today Martinis are a shadow of what they used to be. They are fruited and laced, infused and laden with pompadours of foam. What was once beauty in simplicity has become a freak show of fruit and spirit. Now we do not claim to be purists in the art form and believe us, we have played every variation on the theme, but in the long run a Martini should be a minimalist drink rather than a Broadway production.

In its purest form the Martini is comprised of a spirit, lightly embellished, nudged by a tease of Vermouth. It is a showcase of the majority constituent with a supporting role played by a minority relish.

The original Martinis were wet. In fact the original version, The Martinez Cocktail called for Sweet Vermouth. The Dry Martini as we know it today is attributed to British Field Marsh Bernard Montgomery who during WW2 had his martinis mixed to the same ratio as his battle strategy, 15:1 outnumbering the enemy.

The techniques in making this coveted cocktail always bring rise to debate. Shaken not Stirred? Gin or Vodka? There is no doubt that the original was made with Gin but Vodka has edged her way in there with a bit of help from Mr. Fleming’s Bond.

In making a good Martini it should be tailored to the recipient. We prefer all of our Martini’s, Gin or Vodka, PAINFULLY cold. The purists will say that we are bruising the spirit and so be it, for theirs we will give the drink a light swizzle and wish them well.

When we take the non-traditional approach to Martinis we like using aromatic spirits in place of Vermouth but steer clear of sweet cordials. Let us keep it pure, Martinis are NOT sweet. The following are a few ideas on the non-traditional Martini that still keep the integrity of a strong spirit embellished.

We like using various Eau-De-Vie such as Poire William (Pear) or Eau-De-Vie Framboise (Raspberry). A chilled teaspoon of either spirit floated on top of chilled Vodka makes an aromatic Pear or Raspberry Martini without being sweet.

Touching a few drops of Rose Flower Water along the rim of your Martini glass adds an inescapable floral touch to your Martini that can be quite soothing. The same works with Orange Flower Water but beware with it, a little bit goes a very long way.

We are also fond of the Dirty Martini (Gin and Vodka!) and approve of the judicious addition of Olive Juice, taking care not to make it seawater salty.

Bitters are back and there are all kinds of artisan bitters out there to add a new dimension to your Martini. The Bitter Truth, Celery Bitters works great with Gin and Vodka adding a celery-citrus taste to your Martini. The traditional dosing of Gin with Angostura, AKA Pink Gin is a longstanding popular tipple in England.

Smokey is in! Try misting a bit of your Favorite Single Malt Scotch across the top of a Gin or Vodka Martini. Hit it with a touch of Balcones Brimstone or High West, Campfire for an artisan touch.

When it comes to Martini’s they are as individual as the people that drink them. To each their own! In the long run we guess there is no harm in calling a fruit punch elaborately shaken and strained into a Cocktail Saucer a Martini. But for those who want to keep true to form, try to keep it simple, strong and dry.  Cheers.