The martini. Elegant, clean, seductive but most of all, mystical. Today, there are thousands of variations of this cocktail and the origin of this classic is shrouded in mystery.
Some claim Professor Jerry Thomas invented the Martini. The 1887 edition of his Bartender’s Guide included the Martinez, the classic cocktail with gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters and lemon twist garnish. Thomas claimed to have made the drink for the first time at San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel. One problem: that edition of the Bartenders Guide was published two years after Thomas died.
Others believe the cocktail was born from branding. Some believe the drink derived from the famous “Martini & Rossi” vermouth, first created in the mid-1800s. Apparently in the interest of brevity, the “gin and Martini” drink of the time eventually became known as the “martini.”
The last popular theory is that the modern martini has its roots at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel where in the early 1900s, Martini di Arma di Taggia was behind the stick. He served a concoction to regular John D. Rockefeller with London dry gin, Noilly Prat Vermouth, and orange bitters. It’s possible the martini as we know it today was named after this bartending legend.
Whatever the real origin of the martini, today this classic is a favorite of many bartenders, and increasingly so of everyday customers. The popularity of the drink is following a similar boom as the Old Fashioned trend from a few years back.
In 1922 the martini was most commonly made with London dry gin and dry vermouth are combined at a ratio of 2:1, stirred in a mixing glass with ice cubes, with optional bitters, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass. The garnish has always been the drinker's choice of a green olive or a twist of lemon peel.
Over the course of the 20th century, the martini became progressively became drier, in part due to the availability of higher quality gin in the US after the end of prohibition. During the 1930s the ratio was 3:1 (gin to vermouth), and during the 1940s the ratio was 4:1. During the latter part of the 20th century, 6:1, 8:1, 12:1, 15:1 or even 50:1 Martinis became commonplace.
The traditional martini comes in an infinite number of variations. James Bond usually asked for his vodka martinis to be "shaken, not stirred", following the advice from Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). Some even argue that the martini should be made by throwing, which tends to put more accent on the vermouth in the martini. A martini can even be served on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass although I consider it personally to be sacrilege.
Antonio Rosato, Mandarin Oriental, Milano
We start our exploration of the Martini at Mandarin Oriental in Milano, a leading hotel bar in the city.
Senior bartender Antonio Rosato prefers Tanqueray 10, a small batch citrus-forward gin. Antonio likes his Martini bone dry and opts for the In and Out method to have the premium Tanqueray 10 gin be the protagonist.
“I start by filling the mixing glass 3/4 full with Hoshizaki ice and then add two sprays of Noilly Prat dry vermouth. I stir the small amount of vermouth on the ice for 10 seconds before discarding it with a strainer.
Then I add 100 mL of Tanqueray 10 to the vermouth-coated ice, stirring for 15 seconds. To finish off the martini, I cut a strip of lemon peel which I then twist over top of the glass to spray the aromatics into the drink. This adds even aroma more to my citrussy and dry Martini.”
Domenico Carella, Officine Riunite, Milano
There is a time and of course a way to link what is a perfect aperitif
and meditation drink
So here we are: this is my martini
If you know me you will know that I'm fond of a few things, two of
which are the Martini cocktail and Scotch whisky...
So take a nice Martini glass, chill it with the technique that you prefer.
Now take the mixing glass
Pour a generous amount of Mancino secco (30ml)
What ever you do, don't lose a drop of the vermouth! We need all of it
to give us a fully rounded martini.
Now 60 ml of Tanqueray ten
And for a exceptional hint of peat add a few spoons of Ardbeg 10
For my martini, the most important thing after the ingredients is the dilution,
I love to have it wet.
When you have the right temperature and the right dilution pour it
into your glass finishing with a nice and organic lemon peel that will
not go into the glass in the end.
My martini? There is no short answer. Such simplicity requires many words.
Selecting a particular balance of ingredients is highly subjective, shaped by both internal and external forces. Not only has my preference changed over time, it changes with each hour of the day. A lunch martini differs greatly from a cocktail hour martini. An evening martini is yet again unique.
That said, the framework for my ultimate martini—evolved over the decades since Anistatia and I wrote Shaken Not Stirred©: A Celebration of the Martini—is simple. Simple because I truly believe the words of Antoine de St. Exupery: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
Gone are the orange bitters and drop of absinthe and olive and twist submerged in the liquid. I prefer a clean style that rose in popularity in the 1950s.
For the ingredients, I worked very hard as part of a great team to produce the finest possible London Dry Gin, made in London without compromise on a copper pot still and balanced to my palate. But a classic dry martini is not straight gin. It also requires vermouth. There are many wonderful choices these days, but I am at heart a traditionalist and, like the legendary Sasha Petraske of Milk and Honey speakeasy fame, I prefer classic Italian dry vermouth. I prefer it to be as fresh as possible, so at home I keep dozens of mini bottles and open a fresh one for every round.
I combine these two ingredients, the gin and dry vermouth in an ice-filled tin. I would rather throw than shake or stir as throwing imparts fine aeration that remains in suspension much longer than the large bubbles in a shaken drink. These bubbles brighten the flavour and round out the mouthfeel without clouding the drink.
How many times you throw is dictated by the quality of the ice. Good ice takes longer, while bad ice will be very quick to chill and dilute the drink. There is no need to count throws. Watch the strainer handle shift as the ice melts. I find when it has moved about 45°, the drink has taken on the approximately 25% dilution I consider optimal for softening it and opening up the flavours.
The twist is the moment where I find some of the greatest bartenders trip up. Running the twist around the rim and down the stem before dropping it into the drink is riveting theatre, but it detracts from the flavour of the drink. Why do bartenders continue to do this? It is because their predecessors did, and theirs before them, much like we as a species ate raw meat before we discovered fire (and later discovered restaurants and good chefs).
The twist should be large and fresh and squeezed over the drink, to impart sweet citrus and floral aromas. It should never come in contact with the glass or the liquid. If it does, it makes the drink bitter and sharp and less pleasant. After it has been squeezed, the twist should be discarded.
I also prefer my martinis small in a very, very cold glass. If the glasses are kept in the freezer, it should not be put on the bar until the drink has been mixed. If the glasses are on the shelf it should be filled with ice and water before the gin and vermouth bottles are opened.
This, then is my martini: fiery frost in a velvet cloak, part gin and part vermouth, part insight and part reminiscence, part serenity and part festivity.
50 ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
15 ml dry vermouth
Combine ingredients in an ice-filled Boston tin. Cover with a julep strainer. Throw as necessary. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze a lemon twist over the drink and discard it. Serve immediately to be consumed, in the words of Harry Craddock, “while it is still laughing at you."
Simone Mina, Checchino dal 1887, Roma
5cl Botran Reserva blanca
2cl HSE cuvée de l'an 2010
1,5cl Tio Pepe Sherry Fino
4 lacrime di sirena (saline solution)
Garnish with three olives not washed in brine placed in the glass before pouring the drink
Colored coupe glass
The idea for the drink was born from my love for rum in general and for white spirits. The pirate in me wanted to make a Martini with reminds you of sea and adventure, dirty but without relying on olive brine.
Thus, taking advantage of those natural olive scents of white rums from Martinique, in this case to my dear Botran Reserva Blanca, I have paired a HSE cuvée de l'an 2010 that compliments the savory and olive profile of the drink with a pleasant note of tropical fruit and with its 50% ABV might, helps the martini to stay pleasantly dry.
This is my way of understanding the poetry of Dry Martini, which me is the most anarchic cocktail that exists. It is in this perspective that my martini was crafted and has motivated my other martini experiments at Checchino dal 1887 which I love to call my "Martini Olé"
Dario Comini, Nottingham Forest, Milano
Il mondrian nasce nel maggio del 2002 a seguito di una intuizione importante con cui ho variato la sferificazione alcolica, questa tecnica resa famosa da Ferran Adrià nasce per racchiudere in una pelle di alginato piccole quantità di succhi di frutta o verdura da utilizzare in preparazioni di cucina, l’applicazione di questa tecnica al mondo degli alcolici ha creato non pochi problemi, l alcol essendo un solvente non si comportava in maniera inerte come le puree, ma andava a “bucare” dopo pochi secondi la “pallina” ottenuta attraverso il bagno calcico, il mio obbiettivo era creare sferificazioni stabili che si comportassero al pari di quelle utilizzate in cucina, cominciai così diverse sperimentazioni, la prima intuizione è stata quella di creare uno sciroppo di base composto da alginato ed acqua che avesse già riposato ( nella preparazione di Adrià l alginato viene immesso meccanicamente con un blender, questa preparazione aggiunge molta aria al preparato, aria che deve disperdersi per poter passare alla fase formazione della pelle, in quanto gonfia la miscela e non permette alle palline di formarsi nel bagno calcico, perché le fà galleggiare, l’aria viene dispersa attraverso 2 metodi, il riposo della miscela per 24 ore, oppure il passaggio attraverso una macchina sottovuoto a campana) questa praparazione premix permetteva non solo di velocizzare le sferificazioni, ma dava l opportunità ai nostri clienti di scegliere al momento cosa volevano sferificato nel loro drink , restava il problema del solvente, più la miscela era alcolica, meno tempo durava la solidità della sfera, ho risolto il problema aggiungendo una percentuale precisa di glucosio allo sciroppo di base, che ho chiamato “sciroppo madre” lo zucchero durante la formazione della sfera si frappone tra il liquore e l alginato, creando un “airbag” che non permette al alcol di bucare la pallina, questo know how l ho ceduto in seguito alla Fabbri che produce e commercializza in larga scala il premix.
Risolto il problema legato alla preparazione ora potevo creare cocktail che contenevano al loro interno diverse preparazioni con più liquori, il mondrian è l omaggio al re dei cocktail il martini, infatti contiene quattro diverse sfere, il bitter, l assenzio,il Pimm’s ed infine vodka infusa allo zafferano, i loro colori ricordano quelli utilizzati dal pittore olandese Pier Mondrian fondatore del neoplasticismo da cui il nome.
Questo drink non interferisce nel gusto finale del martini, in quanto le sfere restano integre al suo interno, un cucchiaino a corredo permette di degustarle a piacere durante la bevuta lasciandole esplodere contro il palato. Un quadro in un bicchiere.