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How To Make The Perfect Martini

Ahhh… the martini. Quite possibly the world’s most recognizable and coolest cocktail. Everybody has heard of a martini, and certainly everybody knows James Bond’s classic line ‘Shaken, not stirred’. The martini conjures up images of tuxedos, Aston-Martins, beautiful women, and shootouts with evil villains. Just take a look at the men throughout history who appreciated the martini: Sir Winston Churchill enjoyed his, as did Ernest Hemingway and Franklin Roosevelt. Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin were also martini fans.

A martini is a symbol of class and distinction. It shows that you are a sophisticated person with taste and style that goes beyond the common man. On top of that, the very fact that it is made with 4 or more ounces of 80 proof liquor, served straight up should cement its position in your mind as a man’s beverage. In short, it is a drink every man of legal age must experience.

So, now you’ve been convinced. You are heading to the liquor store for… well, exactly what are you going to pick up?

There are only four ingredients in a real martini: gin, vermouth, olives and ice. Many people add vodka to their martinis, but this is not correct. Vodka may make a fine cocktail, but it does not make a martini. On that same note, any martini referred to with words such as ‘Green Apple’, ‘Chocolate’, or ‘Crantini’ is also not a martini.

Incidentally, Bond’s signature ‘martini’ actually has a splash of vodka in it, according to Casino Royale, the first Bond book.

The Vesper
3 measures Gordons gin
1 measure vodka
½ measure Kina Lillet vermouth
Shake very well until cold, and pour into a deep champagne glass
Garnish with a slice of lemon peel

This technically means that his drink was not a martini, but since his car has a rocket launcher hidden behind the front grille, I’m not about to pick a fight.

Also from a purist’s standpoint, a martini should be stirred, not shaken. Shaking a martini ‘bruises’ the gin, which is a term for whipping air and water into the gin. This can make a martini taste a bit ‘sharp’. However, shaking a martini usually produces a colder drink, which is also key to the experience. I suggest making one of each, and deciding for yourself which way is better.

The instructions below are for shaking the drink. This is because this is how the average person ‘thinks’ a martini should be made. It adds a bit of drama to the experience, and it’s more fun than just stirring a stick. If you do decide to stir, remember to pour the drink through the strainer to remove the ice. Stir for no more than 15-20 seconds.

Step 1: Add three or four ice cubes to the shaker. Use the purest water you can to make the ice, as some of it will melt and dilute the gin.

Step 2: Add vermouth. The less vermouth you add the ‘drier’ the martini will be. Most martini drinkers prefer a dry martini, which may have a gin to vermouth ratio of 4:1. Some people go as far as to simply swirl the vermouth inside the shaker, and then dump it out so that only what coats the inside is left in the drink. It was rumored that Winston Churchill’s martini recipe was to simply fill a glass with gin, look at a bottle of vermouth, and drink. The amount of vermouth is a matter of personal taste. I suggest a 4:1 mix, but feel free to experiment.

Step 3: Add gin. The colder the better.

Step 4: Affix lid to shaker and shake vigorously for 10 to 15 seconds.

Step 5: Pour through strainer and into glass

Step 6: Garnish. I prefer three big fat queen olives on a stick , but some go with a curl of lemon peel. Incidentally, if you use two cocktail onions as garnish, you have created a drink known as the Gibson.

Step 7: Enjoy and repeat.

Let me make it very clear, that anytime you partake of even one martini, you are not to drive or operate heavy machinery. As stated above these babies are pure alcohol. They are meant for sipping, and you will get drunk very quickly if you are not careful. One martini is equivalent to several (4 or 5) shots of whisky, depending on the size of the glass.